Acceptance of Nonconforming Work

Some food for thought here:

In the practice exam case study regarding the accessibility ramp there is a question regarding actions the owner can take after the accessibility architect has deemed the accessible ramps, constructed during the project, to be nonconforming work. (choose two)

One of the correct answers was: “Accept the work with a reduction in the Contract Sum”

However, as this relates to code compliance issue, would the owner actually be able to make this call if the acceptance of the nonconforming work would make the ramp non-compliant?


Hi @Charlesanthonylent ,

This is a tricky question… Technically, the owner is within their rights to accept the non conforming work and may negotiate a reduction in the contract sum as a part of this.

This answer is supported by the A201 per article 12.3

However, per the AIA code of Ethics (which is also an official ARE 5.0 resource) if the owner chooses to accept the work the architect should take steps including advising the owner against, refusing to consent, and reporting this to the jurisdiction having authority.

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@coachchrishopstock this does seem like a little bit of a ‘gotcha’ question. Referring it to you just to be sure we think it is up to snuff!

Thanks @coachdarionziegler !
I agree it’s tricky but it’s technically correct and is testing the candidates understanding that the owner is within their right to accept any non-conforming work (even if it is non-compliant with a code, law, etc.). I totally agree that the architect should make a big deal out of this particular scenario, up to and including reporting it to the AHJ.
I would think the ARE would include some tricky situations like this, so we are aiming to match our practice exams to that level of difficulty.


Thanks @coachchrishopstock !

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I do agree with the owner accepting the non conformance work idea and as written to be correct. Architect will waive and have the owner sign of their acceptance for the non conforming work and not following the const documents. However, if the AHJ disapproves this work since it does not comply with the code, nothing can the owner do except to have it conformed, right?
Maybe other items such as types of windows or trims? Any minor that will not be a code problem has to be said here? This is my thinking which I think will not be acceptable to NCRB because it is a fact overthinking of the situation?

Hi @mcampos ,

The architect can’t force the owner to do anything and technically they are within their right as @coachchrishopstock says. However, per AIA ethics the architect should likely report this to the inspector. The AHJ can then refuse to issue a certificate of occupancy until the situation is remedied, meaning that the owner cannot occupy the building until it is fixed.

If there is no code or life safety concern related to the nonconforming work, the owner has rights to accept whatever they want and the architect has no responsibility to report to AHJ. The architect ultimately works for the client, who has final say.

Hope this helps!

Hi @coachdarionziegler & @coachchrishopstock,

I found something today in AHPP page 721 that frames this acceptance of nonconforming work issue a little more deliberately:

“Should the nonconforming condition conflict with code requirements or endanger life safety, the architect MUST object to the acceptance and insist on completion or correction”

I understand the point of this question was to make sure we get that the owner has the right to accept nonconforming work. But this feels muddy to me. I’m preparing for my second attempt of PjM and I don’t feel solid about what I’m supposed to take with me on this subject for my retake. Would appreciate your thoughts!

Hi @desireegcurrie thanks for writing in!
I agree that AHPP says that the architect must object to the owner accepting such work, and that they should insist on it being remedied if it affects life safety or conflicts with code requirements.
At the end of the day, there’s no way the architect can require the owner to require the contractor to fix it. That’s what this question is getting at, and A101 is clear that the owner is within their rights to accept all types of non-conforming work.
It’s definitely muddy, but if I saw a question on the ARE like this I’d think back to the contracts first, and then use process of elimination to come up with the answer(s) that are in conformance with the contracts.
I hope that helps and good luck on your exam!