Standard of Care in Conducting General Reviews of Construction

  • 14 novembre 2022
  • Yasser Korany, PhD, PEng, PE, LEED AP, PMP and Joe Figliomeni, JD

General reviews of construction are a mechanism for documenting deviations of actual construction from the original design intent and building code requirements of a project. While general reviews are useful in minimizing the risk of construction failures, that is not their only purpose. Suppliers for systems and materials such as pre-fabricated structures and roofing assemblies usually require that general reviews of construction be carried out as a pre-requisite to issuing warranties for their products.

The Building Code Act1, and the Ontario Building Code2, stipulate that general reviews are to be carried out by an architect, a professional engineer, or both, depending on the type of occupancy and building size (see Table under Division C, Article of the Ontario Building Code). However, neither the Building Code Act nor the Ontario Building Code define the term “general review.” 

Both the Architects Act3 and the Professional Engineers Act4 define general review as “an examination of the building to determine whether the construction, enlargement or alteration is in general conformity with the design governing the construction, enlargement or alteration, and reporting thereon; (“examen de conformité”).” General conformity is widely understood to be the reviewer’s professional judgment that construction work has been carried out in accordance with normally accepted industry standards and the essential requirements of the project plans and specifications.

Verifying the adequacy of the design and the accuracy of the plans and specifications are not part of a general review of construction. This is not to suggest that concerns over obvious or suspected deficiencies should not be raised, and the reviewer must describe the measures needed to correct any deficiencies found.

For most projects requiring a building permit, a Commitment to General Review Form is required to be signed by one or more professionals. This form confirms the relationship between the three parties involved: the client/owner, the reviewing architect/engineer, and the chief building official. The client/owner and reviewing professional have a contractual relationship and both have statutory obligations to the chief building official. For projects not requiring building permits such as re-roofing, there is no requirement to report to the chief building official. If the reviewing professional is not contacted to carry out the review, or the contract with the client has been terminated or breached, the reviewing professional is not obligated to complete the general review of construction. However, they do have a professional duty to notify the client and the chief building official in writing of the termination of their professional services.