Lowest Bids - or sub- bid that exceed the budget


Hi I came across a question that related to owner’s decision to make changes to e.g. plumbing as to bring the project back to budget that aligns with the lowest bona fide bid. Should the architect and consultant revise the design at no cost? What considered " the market conditions the architect could not reasonably anticipate? The owner could always have choice to ask the contractor to rebid the plumbing, would he? So It sounds like no matter what, the architect could not possibly anticipate the bid outcome and that the owner would have choices. Therefore, architects should always be compensated for the rework or provide value engineering work during the bidding process?

Thank you


Hi @vincent.c.lee !

This is a great question that digs deep into the AIA B101 contract. Without knowing the exact prompt of the question, I’ll come at your question in a more general sense.

With your example, the bided design in question that is coming over the budget is engineering scope, ie plumbing. This could have little effect on the architectural scope. For instance, is the specification on the toilet type causing the spec’d toilet to just be expensive? Is the bid coming in so high because of the required experience of the subcontractor? The Architect and Owner would negotiate whether changes in the Construction Documentation would be needed, but it really is a case-by-case scenario. I would say generally it is on the owner to compensate the architect and designer, within reason.

If the changes to the design to get the lowest bid to align to the lowest bona fide bid are minor, the architect could simply coordinate within Construction Administration using an addendum issued during rebidding to follow through on. If that cannot be achieved and a redesign is needed, then finding the crux of why comes next.

The caveat thrown in there is to cover the owner to not have to pay if the Architect/ Consultants ‘royally messed up’, and caused the lowest bid to be significantly higher than the lowest bona fide bid. Instances that would fall under ‘market conditions that the architect could not reasonably anticipate’ might be the subcontractors in the area of the Work are just so busy, and all of their bids are just more expensive due to limited availability. This is something that the architect is not in direct control of. They can, however, always have a pulse of things, but until the project hits the streets you never know.

Within the scope of the ARE’s, I would not expect to see a question digging into the specifics if an owner owes the Architect compensation for redesign, mostly because that scenario is very specific and requires a lot of background context of the project and Construction Documentation. Typically, and especially within the scope of the ARE’s, the Architect does provide conceptual construction costs to the client to keep expectations, scope, and the design in check.

If you’d like to learn more about the Architect’s obligation to sticking to a budget, I’d recommend this article: What is the architect’s obligation to design to budget?

I hope that this helps!