Think now, Avoid Headaches Later with a Commissioning Consultant

By AIA Contract Documents

June 28, 2024

Construction professionals are surely familiar with the old axiom: “measure twice, cut once.”  Of course, this applies literally to the act of carpentry, but can be extended to any decision made on an active project. Modern construction continues to require the joinder of a multitude of systems, often technologically advanced, to deliver a functional end product. Enter the role of the commissioner on a project. Commissioning is the process of ensuring the design intent of the owner is met, and the building systems and components are functional and properly integrated.

AIA C203™-2017 provides an agreement to hire a consultant that will provide commissioning services for a project. Under the form agreement, the commissioning consultant will be involved from the early stages of the project to provide key input and assist in developing various project requirements. The commissioning consultant will either assist with the development of the owner’s project requirements or review such requirements if they are already prepared. The consultant will then ensure the project requirements conform with the owner’s basis of design. Using these two documents, the commissioning consultant will develop a written commissioning plan setting forth the consultant’s activities and various protocols to follow.

The commissioning consultant’s responsibilities continue through the design and construction phases – holding coordination meetings, reviewing submittals, creating checklists, conducting site visits, testing systems, and more. After tests verify that the systems are working as intended (or remedy any issues if not), The consultant will create a commissioning report that sets forth project objectives, basis of design, checklist and testing results, a training plan, and recommendations for ongoing commissioning. C203™-2017 also provides a table to select supplemental and additional services to further adapt the contract to the user’s needs.

Buildings continue to require increasingly complex systems. These include HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems, all of which must work together seamlessly. Commissioning can also contribute to cost savings and efficiency gains, as well as increase collaboration on a construction project. Therefore, owners and contractors would be wise to consider the use of a commissioning consultant, especially as the industry continues to evolve and embrace new technologies.

AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.