I’m acting as an owner’s representative on a project. The contractor calls me before he calls the owner, the front office folks, or the user groups in the building. It's one of “those” phone calls. “Hey there Lisa. Well, um, we had a pipe burst in the building last night…”. My first response was “Are you serious? knowing that this contractor and I can joke around. He assured me he was not joking. I headed over to the site.
It is a funny situation to be in. I’m not the owner (just acting on their behalf); I’m not the design architect (knowing the likely “behind the scenes” discussions); and I need to work with the contractor on projects independent to this one.
So first I focus on getting the facts: what, where, how, when (and the inevitable), what are we gonna do about it? Then I visit the site and see for myself (although clean up operations have begun) so I can report back to the owners (and the design team with whom the owner has a contract):
a) A brief history of an on-going punch list item which has yet to be fully resolved has failed (again).
b) The failure and the timeline as I could ascertain regarding the failure.
c) What are the areas which were affected and what fixes will be required?
d) Other questions/issues and when will it be completed? Who will pay for it?
It dawned on me as I was typing up the information that there is only one time when you can gather the true facts on what happened. That’s as soon as it happened, not after clean up, not after repair work. I seem to recall an insurance seminar on disaster recovery and in this short-term retrospective, I realized I had most of the stuff to capture all the information. Have you ever had one of "those” phone calls? What did you do? How do you make sure you capture the information you (or your client or the GC) might need in the future? What suggestions do you have? No, you can’t suggest hiding under your desk.
—Lisa Stacholy, AIA