From the day that construction starts, the architect begins his work of supervision. At least twice a week he goes to the site and observes the progress of the work and how it is being done. Special conditions may arise where the contractor or his foreman call hurriedly for the architect, such as uncovering a large boulder at one corner of the excavation for the cellar. There may be a fine point to be decided regarding the location of piping or some detailed instruction concerning the installation of the interior woodwork. On these occasions it saves time for everybody if the architect or one of his associates is readily available. Watching the cellar excavation for unexpected subsurface water is also an item that no experienced architect neglects. He sees to it that concrete for foundations is mixed properly and has the specified percentage of cement. The installation of piping for plumbing and heating is supervised carefully, as is the work of plastering.
As the house nears completion, his supervision increases in direct ratio. In fact, during the last two or three weeks, the architect is not infrequently there most of the time. The last details of the interior trim are being completed, decorating is under way, and lighting fixtures are being installed. All of these require direct supervision and the architect expects to be on hand. These final details can make or mar the general effect more than is realized.
When your house is finished to the architect’s satisfaction, he gives his final approval and thirty days thereafter the final bill of the contractor is payable. This period is to allow for minor adjustments, such as windows that stick, doors that will not latch and the like, the small things that always need to be done with any new house and are generally attended to after the owner and his family have taken possession.
Just as the general contractor is paid in installments, the architect’s fee is likewise liquidated. There is a standard schedule which provides that one-fifth of the estimated fee shall be paid on completion of satisfactory preliminary sketches; two-fifths when the plans and specifications are finished or on letting the contract for actual building. The balance is paid monthly in proportion to the amounts paid the contractor.
When a house is to be remodeled, the architect proceeds in much the same way. He presents suggested sketches of the ways in which the desired changes can be accomplished. When these are satisfactory, working drawings are prepared that show what is to be removed and what new construction undertaken. The working drawings are, of course, accompanied by a set of specifications, and contractors are invited to submit bids for doing the work. On letting the contract, work proceeds about as with that of building a new house. There are, however, more opportunities for unforeseen contingencies and so the architect often has to devote more of his time to supervision. Sometimes, if the particular remodeling project is one requiring unusual care, the percentage of his fee is a little higher by special arrangement.