application for payment

Like many things you may not have covered extensively (or at all) in architecture school, certifying the Contractor’s application for payment is an underemphasized but critical component of an Architect’s construction phase services. While review of applications for payment may seem like a “check the box” type of administrative task compared to responding to submittals and performing site visits, the Architect’s approval or rejection of a certification for payment has meaningful consequences. It is imperative to be mindful of those potential consequences when reviewing and acting on each application, and to recognize when it is necessary and/or appropriate to withhold approval of a Contractor’s application for payment, either in whole or in part.

Representations to the Owner

With each certification, the Architect makes certain representations to the Owner – but what are they, and what do they mean?

When approving an application for payment, you’re making three representations to the Owner:

(1) the Work has progressed to the point indicated by the Contractor;

(2) the Work is in accordance with the Contract Documents; and

(3) the Contractor is entitled to payment.

These representations made by the Architect are based on (1) the Architect’s evaluation of the Contractor’s Work for conformance with the Contract Documents and (2) the data comprising the Contractor’s Application for Payment. The Architect’s certification in the standard application for payment references the “Contract Documents,” suggesting that the Architect—in fact—possesses a copy of the construction contract which defines what those documents are.

In addition to reviewing the data comprising the Contractor’s application for payment, the “evaluation of the Work” requires site visits for the Architect to become generally familiar with the progress and quality of the Work.  If regular site visits are not part of your scope of services, the prudent architect may want to consider deleting the obligation to review the Contractor’s applications for payment from your contractual scope of services,

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