top of page


Banner of a few projects.jpg


By Maria Luisa Castellanos, principal of United Architects

Image by Sven Mieke

Photo by Sven Mieke from Unsplash


During the Permit Review Process, we, as the architects, wait for the expediter to send us any comments on the plans.  If it is an electronic submittal process which we are handling, we follow the online process.  Once we get comments, we distribute any comments to the appropriate engineering sub-consultant and work on any revisions to the architectural plans ourselves.  If we are handling the electronic submittal process, we charge an additional fee for this service.

While the plans are reviewed, we help the clients to select 2 to 4 general contractors who will bid the project. As a Miami architect, I have seen some sleazy people try to use general contractors to do free estimates.  I am a firm believer in pre-qualifying all general contractors prior to giving them the plans to bid.  Some people give the plans to anybody and then after the bids come in, they do their due diligence.  I think that is very inconsiderate.  Why waste somebody’s time if you will not be willing to give them the job if they turn out to be the low bidder?  Putting together a bid takes a great deal

of time and thought.  I don’t believe in wasting the time of busy general contractors.  I usually give contractor 4 to 5 weeks to put a bid together and then I have a formal bid opening at my architecture office in Coral Gables.  This method assures all participants that the bid is above board and not trying to cheapen a preselected general contractor or use the contractor for free estimates when they know that the project will be built by the architect/contractor.  Here is an article I wrote, Hiring a Contractor


Once a contractor is selected, we recommend that the contractor is hired using one of the pre-formatted agreements established by the American Institute of Architects.  AIA A105-2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor for a Residential or Small Commercial Project, is a good contract for the client to review and possibly use:  For larger and more complex projects, other AIA owner/contractor agreements are more suitable.  Under no circumstances should the client sign a contract until the plans are approved by the building department, ready for the permit to be issued.  Neither should he sign an agreement he does not understand.  If he has any doubts about the contract, he should review the contract with his attorney.

Once all the plans are approved by the building department, the general contractor goes to the appropriate city or county and gets the permit put in his name.  The general contractor must have liability and workmen’s compensation insurance, even if workmen’s compensation is not required by law.

Image by Scott Graham

Photo by Scott Graham from Unsplash


Many clients want the services of their residential architect during construction.  These are three that are common:  Shop Drawing Review, approval of the contractor's invoices, and Construction Observation.  An additional fee is charged for these services. 

Shop Drawings, like the title implies, is when the contractor actually goes out and “shops” for the actual items specified in the plans.  Once he identifies a particular product, he gets the information about the product.  These may be in the form of catalog cuts or samples.  He sends these to the architect who in turn will send them to the engineers, when what is being reviewed is a product for an engineering discipline.  Items which are normally reviewed are roofing, electrical panels, trusses, concrete mixtures, structural steel, cabinetry, flooring finishes, and many others.

Carpenter with saw by greyson-joralemon-on-unsplash.jpg

Construction Observation are visits to the field by the architect and/or engineers periodically while the construction is going on.  A normal schedule for these services would be either bi-weekly or monthly.  Often while the A/E is reviewing the work, they are also going to review the invoice from the general contractor.  Billing by the general contractor is normally based on the percentage of completion according to the schedule of values established by the general contractor at the beginning of the project.  The clients must pay the invoices by the general contractor on a timely basis.  

Often, on large projects, a 10% retainage is withheld from each sub and general contractor.

Photo by  Greyson Joralemon from Unsplash

During the course of the work, it is important that the general contractor deliver partial releases of liens from all the subcontractors and the materialmen providing work to the project.

When the general contractor considers the project 90% complete, he can ask for a substantial completion inspection and then the retainage is reduced by another 5%.

Once the project is finished, a final release of lien should be obtained from each subcontractor and materialman on the job before final payment is made to the general contractor.  All permits must be closed out.  A certificate of occupancy or completion must be obtained by the general contractor before a project is considered finished.

At this point, the clients can happily occupy the premises and all services by the architect, engineers, and general contractor come to an end.


Call 305-552-5465 or Email to discuss your exciting project ideas with the principal of the firm, Maria Luisa

Castellanos, R.A., LEED AP

bottom of page