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Last edited 17 Apr 2015

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Architect's instruction
Construction contracts generally give the contract administrator the power to issue instructions to
the contractor. These instructions can be called contract administrators instructions or

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architects instructions (AI's). We have used the terms architect and architects instruction


below, but they could easily be replaced with contract administrator and contract

Alternative dispute resolution.

administrators instruction.


Broadly, Instructions may be given:

To vary the works.
To postpone the works.
To remedy workmanship, goods or materials which are not in accordance with the contract.
To sanction a variation made by the contractor.
In relation to the expenditure of provisional sums.
To open up work for inspection.
To carry out tests.
To exclude persons from the site.
The contractor must comply with the instructions within certain limitations. The contractor has

Confirmation of verbal instruction.

Contract administrator.
Contract sum.
Compensation events.

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the right to reasonably object to an instruction, and instructions can only be given as
empowered by the contract. On receipt of an instruction, the contractor may ask the architect to

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inform them which conditions empower them to make that instruction. Disagreement about the
validity of an instruction may result in a dispute being deemed to have arisen, and the dispute

GLA publish supplementary planning guidance

resolution procedures of the contract will then come into force.

for Londons commercial heartland.

If an instruction requires a variation in design to be carried out by the contractor (such as on a

design and build project), the instruction may be considered to alter the employers requirements.

Skills gap

If an instruction constitutes a variation, then the contractor may be required to give a variation
quotation, and the works described in the instruction will not begin until the architect has
confirmed their acceptance of the quotation.

If the contractor does not follow an instruction, the architect may be required to issue a 'notice to
comply' to the contractor. If they still fail to comply, the architect can instruct others to carry out
the work and the contractor will be liable for any additional costs incurred. It is important therefore
that such costs are properly recorded, and if possible a range of quotes obtained.

BRE Academy skills gap survey finds key BIM

and management skills are lacking in

Contracts can be vague about the nature of instructions, other than that they should be given in

individuals, organisations and the wider

writing. They should also be dated and signed. There are various instruction pro-forma that can be


purchased. It is sensible to send an instruction by recorded delivery, or to confirm its receipt in

the minutes of subsequent meetings.
Government Construction Strategy
If an instruction is given verbally, either the architect should subsequently confirm the instruction
in writing, or the contractor should confirm it in writing, and unless the architect tells the
contractor that the instruction is incorrect, then the contractors description of the instruction will
stand. See Confirmation of verbal instruction (CVI) for more information.



Architect's instruction - Designing Buildings Wiki

Where an instruction is given to open up work or to carry out tests, costs incurred will be added
to the contract sum unless they were provided for in the contract bills, or if the work opened up or
tested proves to be defective. If such an instruction is given because other similar work, materials
or goods were defective, then no addition will be made to the contract sum as long as the
instruction is reasonable.

Find out more

The governments new construction strategy
Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Alternative dispute resolution.
Confirmation of verbal instruction.
Contract administrator.
Contract sum.
Compensation events.
Defects liability period.
Extension of time.
Provisional sums.
Relevant event.


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moves towards BIM level 3, but sets

unambitious efficiency targets compared with
its predecessor.

Building of the week - Florence Cathedral

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140 years in the making, the masterpiece of

Renaissance Florence and the world's largest
masonry dome.

Dear All I would like to know if people have strong views on how and when costs should be visible
to the contractor on an AI. We are using NBS Contract Administrator which allows these costs to
be hidden, or displayed.If the cost of an instruction is not known at the point of instructing, surely


it would be meaningless to show an arbitrary number. As such, is it ever appropriate to display

costs at the point of instruction?In my experience architectural practices deal with this in differing
ways, but I suspect there is an approved way of doing it.Thanks!

The consensus of opinion appears to be that whilst the display of costs attached to an AI is
optional, transparency is favourable. If you have pre-negotiated a price put it into the AI but be
clear what it covers, such as overheads, prelims and profit. If not negotiated state it as a "budget
cost" but also define what it covers.

A new type of communal living that is growing

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in popularity around the UK.

National Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2016-21



Architect's instruction - Designing Buildings Wiki

Government publishes their spending strategy

for infrastructure projects together with a
commitment to make efficiency savings.

Development House, Shoreditch

Architects unveil plans for innovative all-timber

structure in London's Shoreditch.

Unusual building design of the week

Peter Cook's Kunsthaus Graz modern art

museum in Austria, a landmark piece of

Buildings in film



Architect's instruction - Designing Buildings Wiki

With 'High-Rise' in the cinemas, here is a

selection of famous buildings that have played
important film roles.

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