Free Hit Counters ip-location

|- WJM home -|- WJM address and contact info -|- WJM design philosophy -|- WJM qualifications -|- WJM typical services -|

Client Support Information...

William J. Martin, Architect is available during normal business hours to answer any questions that Clients or Contractors may have about any aspect of a Client's project design.


PHONE --- Westwood Office 201-666-5576 - Fax 201-666-5502 -
(Urgent matters only please, Private Cell 201-805-4431 ).

- Smartphone Q-R barcode - scan it with your smartphone barcode reader app. to load WJM contact information.

EMAIL --- OR - E-mail by clicking here - Feel free to attach photos, files, or other website product information.

BUSINESS ADDRESS --- Westwood Office - WJM Architect, 25 Boulevard, First Floor, Westwood, NJ 07675 USA

Clients should not forget that WJM is with them throughout the project to answer questions.

Clients are encouraged to ask as many questions as they want so they can be comfortable that they understand their project drawings.

Recommendations for Clients That Have Received Their WJM Architect Construction Drawings and Documents

The client should bid the project out competitively to building contractors without delay. Since bidding takes several weeks, the drawings should go out for bid right away. See "Bidding Process" below.

When the client has a block of uninterrupted time, usually several hours, the client should sit down with the construction drawings and a pad of paper for notes. Starting with the very first document, the client should read all the notes and review the drawings in order. It is very important that the client fully understand their project and ask questions if they do not understand the information depicted in the construction drawings. It is the responsibility of the client to review all of the construction drawings.

WJM uses plain language as much as possible. The client should be able to understand 90% or more of the information in the construction drawings. There are two reasons for this. First, plain language is much less likely to be misunderstood than complex construction lingo and unclear abbreviated terminology. Second, it is important for the client to understand what is happening, or will happen, to their building.

Not all technical construction lingo can be avoided. If there is a question about what a drawing note means or what something depicted in the drawing represents, the client should make a note of their question and reference the note number, room number or drawing number as needed to clearly state the question. WJM will explain the meaning of any technical terms at the request of the client.

Clients should begin to list their desired shapes, patterns, colors, and textures of finish materials. WJM construction drawings generally specify wall, floor, ceiling, etc., materials and typical fixtures. Unless otherwise noted, the shapes, patterns, colors and textures of finish materials, mouldings, and specific fixtures are the specific preferences of the client and are selected from contractor supplied samples. The client should list these desired selections and request samples from the contractor soon after the construction begins. WJM will explain the pros and cons of various finishes at the request of the client.

Clients should also make note of any clarifications that may be necessary. As the client reads through the drawings, they may find that many of their written questions are answered by information they come to as they read further.

When the client has finished reviewing the drawings, any remaining questions can be answered by WJM. Clarifications are made by Addendum. A WJM letter addendum referencing the drawings and clarifying the information is generated and becomes part of the construction drawings.

Clients should not be concerned that clarifications are needed. This is a normal and expected part of the design and construction drawing process.

Addendum(s) can then be given to bidders to adjust their bids to reflect the clarifications. Addendums can also be generated during the construction itself to clarify construction components that may not be visible until after the construction has begun.


As soon as the client receives the completed construction drawings for a project, in most cases, clients will want to immediately bid the project out to building contractors and obtain a total contract price for all of the construction work depicted in the drawings.

Clients are encouraged to discuss potential building contractors with WJM.

Clients that request it, may receive assistance in locating qualified building contractors from WJM. Multiple bids ensures that the client is getting the best reasonable price and quality level for their money.

The client can invite any qualified contractor to bid the project. Recommendations from family and friends are good ways to obtain potential bidders. There are many talented contractors out there and WJM is always looking for good, professional building contractors.

Generally speaking, the client should call a minimum of 3 contractors for bids. Less than 3 bids is not sufficient to know that you are getting a reasonable price for the work. More than 5 bids can be difficult to compare and keep track of, although some clients are able to do this. If you feel you can, there is no limit as to how many bids a client could obtain.

WJM recommends that clients should always request and carefully check contractor references.

Multiple copies of the plans are provided to clients for bidding. Mark one set as your personal client set. Call and make separate appointments with each bidder. The bidders should come to the building or site and see, first hand, the circumstances of the project. Give each bidder only one set of the plans and do not give out your personal client set by mistake. Bidders that want an additional set can contact WJM directly. If the client runs out of sets, additional sets are available from WJM at the cost of copying.

When the client receives multiple bids, the bids should be compared to one another, with the client paying particular attention to the "exclusions". Exclusions are the portion of the construction that has been excluded by the bidder from the bid. Unless noted otherwise, the WJM Architect construction drawings depict complete construction, including finishes and fixtures. Many contractors will submit bids with some of the work excluded. Sometimes contractors will exclude kitchen cabinets, appliances, plumbing fixtures or exclude painting and other finishes. This is not unusual, but the client needs to be aware of this when comparing bids. Bids with many exclusions will appear lower than bids with less exclusions. The client should not be afraid to ask the contractor to clarify the bid or provide clear lists of exactly what is "not included". The WJM Architect construction drawings are very detailed and designed to protect the client. Generally, anything depicted in the drawings and not specifically "excluded" from the bid is specifically included in the bid.

The client should also pay attention to any "allowances". Allowances are prices included in the bid to cover the cost of a specific portion of the work. Examples of allowances are prices for kitchen cabinet countertop work, hardwood flooring, tilework, painting, electrical outlets, lights, etc. Allowances are usually expressed in dollars and represents that the kitchen work (for example) included in the bid is "X" amount. Having allowances listed in the bid protects both the client and the contractor, since final selections on finish and fixtures will not be made until after the contractor is hired and the project begins.

Like exclusions, low allowances will make the bid appear lower. The client should compare allowances between bids and ask questions about how they were calculated and on what quality level of materials the allowance is based (for example, custom cabinets vs. stock cabinets or formica countertops vs. granite). Adjustments can be made to the allowances to reflect the desired quality level of the client for that particular portion of the work before the contractor is hired and while the client has the most negotiating leverage.

After the contractor is hired and the project begins, and the client makes final selections of countertops and cabinets, the actual price is compared to the allowance price. If the actual price is higher, the client will be responsible to pay the difference. If the actual price is lower, the client will receive a "credit" from the contractor for this difference in cost. It is important to understand that many allowances have a "labor" and a "material" component. The labor and material should be separate in the allowance to allow the client to see how much is devoted to the materials alone. This helps in comparing various contractors bids to one another. Clients should note that it is not always possible for the contractor to separate labor and material cost.

Clients will want to select the lowest responsible bidder to build their project.

Remember, the clients goal is to obtain construction value. Competitive bidding ensures that the client is getting the most for their money.

The above general recommendations are not meant to cover every situation, call WJM with any questions you have about the bidding process, specific bids, exclusions, allowances and comparing of bids.

Clients should not forget that WJM is with them throughout the project to answer questions.

General contractor selected--- now what?


IMPORTANT NOTE: Clients should discuss with WJM any contractors that describe themselves as construction managers (also described as “cost/plus” contractors) instead of general contractors. There is a difference and WJM can explain the pros and cons. If a construction manager is used, the same recommendations below apply.

It should be the responsibility of the general contractor to apply for all the building permits. This is necessary since the general contractor may have to produce his or her contractor registration numbers or proof of insurance, licensed electrician seal and signature, licensed plumber seal and signature, or other consumer protection information.

The vast majority of building contractors are smart, hard working, responsible business owners. However, some contractors may try to avoid disclosure, insurance, and responsibility by having the building owner sign the permits making the owner responsible for the construction. While this can be legal, it is risky for the owner. Some contractors may subtly suggest that it will save the owner money or that the project will cost a lot more if the contractor has to obtain permits in the contractor’s name. Make no mistake, it may not be about what is best for the owner, it may be about avoiding responsibility, consumer protections and insurance. WJM does not recommend hiring of any contractor that suggests permits be obtained in this manner.

The owner who signs the permits and accepts responsibility for the construction is ultimately responsible for what happens on the construction site. Also the owner becomes responsible to call for inspections at the appropriate times.

The general contractor should be contractually responsible for calling the building department and obtaining all required inspections. The general contractor will know when to call for these inspections, the owner may not know. Failure to call for all required inspections can cause very expensive problems and cause extensive delays in the construction.

The general contractor should also be contractually responsible for obtaining all final inspections, the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (T.C.O.), and the final Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.).

There may be circumstances where the owner might want to obtain the building permits before a general contractor is hired. In these circumstances the issued building permits should be transferred into the general contractors name when they are hired.


The general contractor fills out the permit forms and submits the plans to the municipality for review and issuance of the permits. When someone applies for a permit to build something, they are actually applying for two or more permits.

A breakdown of the various separate departments involved in permit review is as follows:

Required permits may include, zoning permit (local law), building permit (state law), and possibly municipal engineering review or other local review (local Law). Local laws vary from town to town.


Zoning Officer, Land Use Officer, Zoning inspector-- This person is responsible for the initial review of a permit application to determine whether or not it conforms to the local zoning ordinance. If the zoning application and plans are complete and the proposed work conforms to ALL of the zoning requirements, the application will be approved by the zoning officer. The application and plans may then be submitted, by the contractor, to the municipal engineer for further review or the approved zoning application is then submitted to the building department for review and compliance with the state building codes.

It is important to understand that the Zoning Department and the Building Department in many municipalities are completely separate departments, even though they may occupy adjacent offices. Clients should not confuse the Zoning Permit with the Building Permit. You must have both permits before construction can legally begin.


For purposes of discussion here, I refer to New Jersey. Other states have similar permit processes.

After obtaining the zoning permit and any other required prior approval reviews, the building department reviews the plans for the proposed construction. The contractor will fill out the four or more separate permit forms. If the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code (NJUCC) permit application forms are properly completed, the plans and applications go through "plan review". Each of the four subcode officials separately reviews the plans for State building code compliance. The plumbing design is reviewed, then the electrical design, then the fire safety design is reviewed, and finally the building and structural design. If during any of the reviews, an official needs more information, the plans are rejected with a request to clarify or fix the missing information. Each of the 4 subcode officials must sign off on their portion before the permit applications and plans go to the construction official for his final review and signature. The building permit can then be issued.

If the permit applications are truly complete, and clear, this process can be completed in about 3 weeks. However, the building department has by law up to 20 days (4 weeks) to complete the plan review process. An official’s request for more information extends the time the department has to complete the plan review process.


The client should inform WJM when the contractor has obtained the all the building permits and is ready to begin the construction.

The client should inform WJM when the contractor actually begins the construction.

Clients should prepare themselves for the disruption that construction creates. Keep your mind on the finished project and try to be as patient as possible. The need for timely decision making and the disruptive nature of construction can be very stressful for some clients. Contractors have a job to do, and are generally understanding, but confrontations with stressed out clients can have a negative effect on the contractor. Clients should call WJM before they confront the contractor if they have concerns.

The client should keep a daily project journal of the progress of the construction. Clients should write down the weather and a summary what happened that day. The client should also write a summary of anything the general contractor tells them during that day as a journal entry with the date and time the statement was made and what the client said in response. This can be very useful in preventing misunderstandings such as “I didn’t say that” or “I never told you I would be done with that by Thursday” or “I told you 2 weeks ago that the counters had to be selected, ordered and delivered on site by today”

Journal entries should be made, date and time, if the plans are not followed and why. WJM should be informed by the client if the client suspects the plans are not being followed. WJM can come to the site to check on questionable construction.

The client should inform WJM of the periodic progress of the construction.

The general contractor is to supply samples or refer clients to material suppliers for client selections to be made. The client should remind the contractor that reasonable and adequate time must be given by the contractor to the client to make selections and choices. Some decisions will take longer than others. The client should confirm, with the general contractor, how much time the client has to make the various selections and choices. Clients should try to make decisions in a timely manner as to not delay the contractors efficient execution of the construction work. If reasonable time has been given, excessive delay or indecisive behavior by the client, may entitle the contractor to charge an extra for the productivity lost from products that have not been selected in time for scheduled installation.

The client will need to keep track of, in writing, product material selections, available selected options, model numbers, manufacturer, color numbers, samples, color names, preferred construction methods, and texture number choices, etc. These selections should be confirmed in a written form to the general contractor, that the client has to made the various selections and choices and exactly what those choices are.

All of this information should be recorded in the client’s daily construction journal with date and time entries.

This is important if a problem or dispute occurs. The client’s construction journal can be used to determine the sequence of events that lead to the problem. This makes it easier to resolve the issue quickly and decisively and move on with the construction.

The client may wish to take date stamped pictures each day of the construction to document exactly what was done and exactly when. The client may wish to video the construction each day for the same reasons.

Remember, the client’s goal is to obtain construction value. Following these recommendations helps ensure that the client is getting the most for their money.

The above general recommendations are not meant to cover every situation, call WJM with any questions you have about the construction process or progress, inspections, and responsibilities.

Clients should not forget that WJM is with them throughout the project to answer questions and explain construction terms.

Click here to return to the Main WJM Page

|- WJM home -|- WJM address and contact info -|- WJM design philosophy -|- WJM qualifications -|- WJM typical services -|