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Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

  • 1.  Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-17-2018 13:00
    We were asked to design an ADA upgrade for a large affordable housing complex. The project was funded by the state, so a state agency reviewed and approved the design before it was submitted for building permit review.

    The construction was done by a different division of the same company that owns and manages the housing complex.

    The contractors/owners have asked us to provide "As-Built Plans and Specs certified by the architect as a part of the place in service package, which shows the "State housing finance and development corp" that we have done everything we proposed under our application to them. They will provide the 8609's and regulatory agreement once they sign off on our package".

    We visited the site and discovered significant discrepancies between the approved design, and what was actually built. We slammed on the brakes, and have asked for full compliance with the design before producing as-built drawings.

    Our team includes civil and MEP engineering.
    - Does the architect stamp and certify all drawings, with written approval of the consultants, or must each consultant produce their own as-built drawings?
    - Besides "AS-BUILT DRAWING", what verbiage should be included in the stamp?

    The owners/managers/contractors are chafing at the delay, saying to "just do it", because there's almost no liability.


    Dennis Glynn AIA
    Dennis Glynn Architects, Inc.
    Bellevue WA

  • 2.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-17-2018 15:27
    I would think each SMEP needs to produce their own as-builts.

    Is this drawn on Revit? Is there a BIM model.

    This is one tough case— one for the books (and CSI, ARE test questions).

    Good luck.

    I look forward to reading others’ more informed advice.

    Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
    Registered Architect + Interior Designer

    Tara Imani Designs, LLC
    10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
    Houston, TX 77042

    Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

  • 3.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 11:19

    Hi Tara, thanks very much for your response, and your understanding of the situation - a tough case, indeed.

    The project's drawings were produced with AutoCAD.

    Agree that - ideally - the consultants should each be responsible for verifying and certifying that construction reasonably replicates their design.

    If we end up certifying the consultants' drawings too, what kind of agreement should be in place between us?

    I have asked our E&O insurance company to weigh in, as this could directly impact our insurance coverage.

    The mind boggles/sphincters pucker...

    Dennis Glynn AIA

    Dennis Glynn AIA
    Dennis Glynn Architects, Inc.
    Bellevue WA

  • 4.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 11:51
    Hi Dennis,

    I would think that you cannot or should not ‘certify’ the Consultant’s drawings. Is there any precedence for this?

    You might even contact the licensing board in your state licensing board and ask them what they recommend.

    I’m not a lawyer or expert in this area.

    I have dealt with sticky situations but not this particular type.

    It’s good that you’re checking with your E & O insurance (I assume this is your Professional Liability Insurance). You might also refer to your state’s practice act.

    As-built drawings usually include location of lights and plumbing fixtures- but doesn’t guarantee that they are in compliance with certain codes, does it?

    You might also bring in a Consultant to certify the other Consultants’ work... just an idea.

    Please keep us posted in the forum.

    It’s a very unique situation.

    Kind regards,

    Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
    Registered Architect + Interior Designer

    Tara Imani Designs, LLC
    10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
    Houston, TX 77042

    Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

  • 5.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 20:36
    On one point I have to disagree. This situation is not "unique" at all.  All of the time in our practice we are asked to do things, certify things, stamp things that are not under our umbrella, not our preview, not our problem. From day one this should have been an absolute no. This is clearly a play to shift liability of contractor's potential mistakes onto the "certifying" architect. I would absolutely say no to this request. Do not take on liability that is not yours. Suppose for a moment your insurance carrier said this was covered. Do you want the hassle, time, emotional drain and expense of litigating an issue that was not yours simply because you agreed to do this??? You have a deductible. Does what they are offering to pay for this even cover your deductible? Do not agree to this.

    [ Nea May] [Poole]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]

  • 6.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 19:48
    These documents are not "as built" documents.  They are "Record Drawings".  The architect cannot certify that the drawings show the construction as it was built.  The architect cannot know about concealed conditions.  "As Built" will be literally interpreted that the architect certifies that the drawings show exactly (EXACTLY) what was built.  Do not use the term, "as built"..

    Separate design disciplines should prepare their own "record drawings."

    If the architect knows that there are constructed differences from the construction documents, the architect must identify those and not imply those differences are the only differences.

    Separate design disciplines must certify their own "record drawings".  The architect does not have the knowledge and skill to know the constructed condition of the engineering design and must not imply that it has that skill.  ...again "as built" will be literally interpreted.

    Your professional liability insurance carrier may have some language that will be useful in this matter.  It is a common problem.

    If the owner chafes, ask them to completely indemnify you from all liability for certifying "as built" documents.  They will not do so.  There is a big difference between no liability and almost no liability

    John Nyfeler FAIA, LEED AP
    John Nyfeler, FAIA
    Austin TX

  • 7.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 20:59

    Hi Dennis, I have been out of practice long enough to know I cannot provide any response that would be current and/or helpful regarding your situation.

    On the other hand, I can provide you with my thoughts about the comment from the 'chafing owners/managers/contractors' to "just do it, there's almost no liability". The operative word here would be almost".

    It would be my professional recommendation that you ask for (if not demand) a written waiver of liability for your firm's involvement in this process, no exclusions...full waiver.  Given the demonstrated lack of 'moral' character by these people, I would also recommend that your firm not proceed without asking for 50% of your total fee for your services to be paid in advance, with the balance to be paid, in-hand, at the time your firm provides your completed certification documents.

    This appears to be about as high-risk an endeavor as one can conjure, and you and your firm do not need the hassle and potential misery, without these two conditions being agreed to in writing. 

    Good luck.


    Steve L. Wintner, AIA Emeritus

  • 8.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 17:22

    You better check your liability insurance before certifying anything.




  • 9.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-21-2018 17:31
    Record Drawings (As-built Drawings) are the responsibility of the Contractor if you certify work performed by them, you would be breaking the law. You can only certify drawing if you produced them yourself or under your supervision.  


  • 10.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-22-2018 22:08
    Record drawings and as-built drawings are two different things.  Read through the front end documents and AIA contract documents.

  • 11.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-29-2018 21:33
    First of all, your obligation to provide "As-Built" drawings should be defined in your Agreement (Contract) with the Owner. Then the Owner/Contractor Agreement should assign the responsibility to maintain an "As-Built" set of documents on site, delineating any deviation from the Contract Documents. Finally, if required by your Owner/Architect Agreement, you modify the Contract Documents to reflect the Contractor notations (red-lines) and provide new documents to the Owner, unsealed. Sub-Consultant Agreements should assign their requirement to update their documents.

    William Hutz AIA, Emeritus
    Houston TX

  • 12.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-30-2018 18:29

    I am a licensed architect but have been a retail shopping center and mall developer for 20+ years.  I always require my contractors to provide as-builts.  I may have the architect look them over, but I hold the contractors completely responsible for documenting their in-field changes. If you are not on-site every day, and even if you are, how will you be sure you know all the changes that may end up in the job for one reason or the other.  If I were a practicing architect, I would not take on this task. 


    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  • 13.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-31-2018 20:08

    Dear Group,


    This should be a simple summary:

    1. First and foremost, the definition of "Certification" is required to be delineated.  If an Architect is being asked to "seal" the as-builts, which is usually the case for certifications, then this practice should not be implemented.  If the Architect is being asked to shop drawing "stamp" the as-builts, to accept (not approve) the documents as general conformance to the Architect's knowledge based on ASIs, Revised Issuance, RFIs, etc., then no exceptions should be taken.
    2. Additionally, an Architect (or a licensed Professional Engineer or Delegated Designer), via the Architect's or Engineer's practice act, cannot certify any document unless first-hand knowledge is demonstrated.  Actual site conditions cannot be ascertained to satisfy the first-hand knowledge test, by the design professional, only the General Contractor and/or Subcontractor should certify the As-Builts. 


    One methodology to reduce the tension between this request, would be to ensure that the "Close-Out" Section, General Conditions, and/or Division 01 of the Contract Documents clearly depicts this scenario. 





    Ray L. Chandler, Assoc. AIA, CSI, NFPA, ICC

    President and CEO

    L.A.M.B. Oxford Management and Technology Company, Inc.

    dba: Lamb Oxford MTC, Inc.


    a general, design, construction, and data management consultancy


    6754 Bernal Ave., #740-414

    Pleasanton, CA 94566-1218


    Mobile: (310) 968-3359



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  • 14.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 06-04-2018 06:16

    I have taken this request in the past and substituted "as built" with "as designed" - for many of the reasons stated. This "as designed" set would include all revisions and field sketches issued to date. Ultimately this is really what the client needs.


    Best regards,



    George Sorich




    Tel: 312 873 1030  | Cell: 312 405 7461  | Email:  | Web:
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  • 15.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 06-01-2018 08:54

    The contractor is responsible for recording conditions that are different from the construction documents. And as much as CMs may try to leverage us to do their work in this matter, our conventional responsibility as an architect is to be generally knowledgeable about the delivery of the project in accordance with the construction documents and so our knowledge of changes in the field is equally limited. And as architects we are responsible for incorporating formal change order revisions – something we typically distribute as sketches and generate these using the BIM model so this is usually up to date with the changes we have documented.


    I believe the real value for record drawings is to reveal concealed conditions and major building systems. I will add that components of a building that can be observed and measured easily without selective demolition are usually redrawn by the next architect when a building is under-going a future renovation. Few architects trust or rely on record drawings except for general information and part of their services will likely be the preparation of measured drawings using the original record drawings as a general reference. The record BIM model and drawings to some extent has a great utility for Owners to manage their own inventories, maintenance, schedule and occupants of the rooms, etc.


    Terry Scott Forbes


    Managing Principal


    VMDO Architects

    200 E Market Street

    Charlottesville, VA 22902

    434.296.5684  O

    434.466.9069  C


  • 16.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 17:26
    Edited by Steve Davis 05-18-2018 17:39

    Unless it is already in your contract, I would not do this work. Architects typically do not "certify" anything. Talk with your E&O carrier. As for as liability, one lawsuit will change your mind about no liability. If the DOJ or an attorney were to have a group survey the property and find any ADA violations, everyone involved will likely be brought to the table and threatened with a lawsuit. Also, since ADA is civil rights law, there is no statute of limitations. I've been there and it's not pretty.


    Steve Davis, AIA




    Architecture  Planning  Interior Design


    129 S. President Street

    Jackson, Mississippi





  • 17.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 20:28
    Listen to Steve, refuse to do this work, no good will come of it!

    [ Nea May] [Poole]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]

  • 18.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 18:28
    Such documents are “Record Drawings and Specifications”, not “As Built” drawings and specifications. The architect cannot know how every part of the project was built including concealed conditions. "As Built" will be literally interpreted and the architect cannot certify something he/she does not know.

    If there are known differenced between the construction documents and the built condition the architect has an obligation to so state, and to not imply that the known differences are the only differences.

    The separate design disciplines are responsible for confirming their separate record drawings. The architect does not have the knowledge or skill to state the satisfactory condition of construction of the engineers’ design.

    Ask your professional liability insurance carrier for their advice on their coverage in this matter. They will have language that may be useful.

    If the owners chafe at a delay, ask them for a release from all liability related to your certification of the documents. They will not. There is a difference between no liability and almost no liability.

    John Nyfeler, FAIA

  • 19.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 20:30
    Amen! You are not in a position to "certify" anything. They are hoping you will take on liability you do not have. DO NOT do this work!

    [ Nea May] [Poole]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]

  • 20.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 19:09


    Having worked in affordable housing projects for the past 4 years, let me warn you I've seen some incredible things, and have resolved to never work on those projects again. But here are some industry-standard practices for R.A.'s meant to keep your license intact and you not thrown under the bus.

    • The R.A. produces the ADA upgrade/ renovation drawings.
    • The General Contractor does the work.
    • The R.A. does a 1st walkthrough/ punch list for the GC. Either it is already in your contract, or the letter accompanying the punch list provides written notification to the GC only one additional site visit will be performed by the R.A. as part of the Contract. Any subsequent visit will PAID HOURLY, according to the original Contract's hourly basis.
    • The GC provides WRITTEN notification to the R.A. the work is complete, with each item checked off, initialed by the site foreman, with a date of completion.
    • The R.A. does a 2nd walkthrough/ punch list for the GC, as inevitably they will not have performed all items. From this point forward you get paid additional, hourly.

    If you haven't written into your original Contract "services subsequent and additional to the services defined herein will be additional to the Contract at the following rates...(chart with monetary amounts designated per each hierarchical employee of the firm) you may now negotiate additional services if you are at least 75% paid on the project.

    It also should have stipulated in your Contract with the Owner the General Contractor will provide a redlined as-built set. If you have that, you can additionally mark that up, staple your final punch list to the GC's redline set and stamp ONLY your punch list.

    If it is in your Contract to provide as-built's , you may include your punch list items directly red-lined into the set, AND include your final punch list on the cover sheet (pdf it into the AutoCAD drawing). You can stamp that and not lose sleep.

    The "the 8609's and regulatory agreement…" between the State and the Housing Authority is really not your problem.

    If you cannot negotiate additional fees for services outside of the Contract, and your original Contract did not stipulate the General Contractor is to provide a redlined as-built set, then you cut your losses. DO NOT agree to stamp whatever they want.

    Lastly, the MEP consultants are to do their own as-builts, but you will have to redline those as well, because R.A.'s are liable for consultant drawing discrepancies! See Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice.

    Hope this helps. Cheers!

    Kimberley Frederick, R.A., AIA, NCARB

  • 21.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 19:15
    I guess that I am thinking, respectfully, : Why are you just discovering these deviations from the Permit Drawings (or approved drawings) and what was built ?  Were you responsible for certiying Payment Applications ?  Your budget seems to have allowed you to visit the site in response to the as-built request; shouldn't you have visited, say, for a layout approval by the contractor prior to the start of actual work ?  It sounds also that as-builts were known at the start of the project as a requirement of your contract; more reason that periodic site visits should have happened.

    I do many many projects where I never get to visit the sites; most involving some sort of ADA compliance; many of which are Public Works.  I would not sign a contract asking for as-built drawings unless that contract included a T&M component for site visits.

    ........wishing I could be a little more sympathetic.........

    Affordable housing, ADA:  huge liability.  You need to demand that the work be corrected (and hope that they don't ask the questions that I ask above).

    Bill Adelson, AIA MBA

  • 22.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 20:26

    Dennis: I am not sure in your case if this is an option but in 18 years of business whenever we have been asked for "as built" drawings we say we do not offer that service. I don't know what it is about us as architects but "no"  does not come easily to us. For true as builts you would need to have had someone on site 24/7 which is why generally the contractor is responsible for this. There is no way after the fact you can produce accurate as-builts for you and all of your consultants (nor can they unless this was known from day one).

    Refuse to take on liability that is not yours and, I am sure, you would not be well compensated for. It does not matter what drafting program you used you have no idea, 100%, what was built. Protect yourself and politely say no.

    [ Nea May] [Poole]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]

  • 23.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-18-2018 20:54
    Offer do do a set of “survey” drawings, not “as built” drawings, as an additional service and under a separate contract. Do not, anywhere in your contract or survey documents use the term “as built.” Submit them to the client, and if they wish to submit them to the Authorities Having Jurisdiction, as representative of what THEY contracted to construct, well, that is their own business.

    Alan Burcope, AIA

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 24.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-19-2018 01:00
    Caveats:  I am not going to offer legal advice - for legal advice see your attorney.  My comments below are based on 'common' contract formats (i.e. AIA), and on practices in jurisdictions known to me after 45 years in the industry and 25+ of those as an expert witness dealing with design and construction disputes.  At risk of repeating some of what has already been posted, here are some 'top ten' thoughts (which could easily be expanded):

    1.  Just say 'no'.

    2.  Nobody can 'certify' something about which they do not have first hand knowledge.  Unless you were on site 24/7 and had eyes on every piece of work installed by the contractor you cannot 'certify' that the Work is error-free and in complete conformance with the Contract Documents and applicable codes/laws.

    3.  If you performed 'observation' as part of your contract administration duties then you can issue a statement that something installed is 'to the best of your knowledge' conformant to the construction contract, and nothing more.  Designers who issue any kind of certificate at project completion that goes beyond personal knowledge is erring.

    4.  The only party that can create and issue 'as-built' drawings/specs is the contractor, based on its first-hand knowledge of what was installed.   On 'substantial' projects - and depending on the jurisdiction all school, hospital and government projects - the contractor is obliged under the contract to continuously mark up the Construction Documents during the Work to depict what was actually installed (which may vary from the original CD's).  Those documents are prepared by the builder for the use of the Owner (and sometimes the AHJ).  They are not for the designer, and the designer's role is only to pass along the 'as-built' mark-ups to the Owner upon completion.  The designer is not obligated to check/verify the accuracy of the 'as-built' documents (and this would not be possible unless the designer had first hand knowledge of every nut and bolt).

    5.  The duty of the designer is to issue Construction Documents, and to perform 'observations' (if that is part of the design contract), for 'general conformance to the intent of the CD's' (the typical 'form' contract limitation).  The designer is not obligated to ensure the work as installed conforms 100% to the CD's (which includes by reference all applicable codes/laws), issued after review/approval by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.  The obligation to conform to the CD's (as well as all known codes/laws) rests with the builder.   The builder is presumed to have knowledge superior to the designer with respect to most technical code requirements of individual trades, and is required by contract to bring to the designer's attention anything in the CD's that appears to be in error or not code conformant - prior to installing the Work, so that the error/omission in the CD's can be corrected.   The contractor is also obligated to affirmatively inform the designer and owner of any Work that has been installed that does not conform to the CD's.

    6.  The laws applicable to 'conformance' of CD's to the codes, as well as those applying to construction itself, recognize that 'perfection' is not the standard expected of either the designer or contractor.  Design and Construction, both human endeavors, can (and usually do) inherently contain some errors.  Even a 'certification' issued by the contractor that installed the work, must be taken in that context - likely there has never been a 'perfect' project (and certainly none I have come across).   Even the contractor's certification, if it is issued, does not 'prove' the Work is correct - or prevent a lawsuit if digressions cause damage to the owner or users.

    7.  The contractor was obligated to install the work consistent with the Construction Documents (which includes plans and specs among other things).  You stated you are aware of things not conformant, which begs the obvious question 'what else is not conformant'?  If the contractor now came to you and said 'now everything is OK', on what basis would this be credible?

    8.  It is entirely likely your Professional Liability insurance would not cover your liability if you issue a 'certification' without having the first hand knowledge upon which to base it.  You should (as others have noted) contact your carrier (not just your broker) to obtain further information on that front.

    9.  The contractor/client that is 'demanding'  you comply with their need for 'as-builts' is (to be kind) misrepresenting to you that there is little liability if you do what they ask.  It is accurate that a lawsuit under ADA can only be brought against the owner.  However, the owner can, in turn, sue the contractor and the designer for the damages flowing from the original complaint.  Liability under the ADA for even the most minor digression from unbending criteria can far exceed your profits, your entire fee, and even your insurance (depending on the size of the project and the real and collateral/economic damages suffered by an Owner for non-compliance and remediation).   As an example only, I handled a case where a seemingly unimportant (and not carefully considered) small 'cut and pasted' note about the size of a credit card in the CD's was incorrect, and ultimately led to damages in excess of $40 Million (with a capital M) in damages.  An ADA-specific case illustrating what can happen even when the designer warned the Owner not to do something because it 'might' be wrong, can be Googled - see Mandalay Las Vegas.

    9.  Unless there was something in your contract that obligates you to perform the services being requested, you should simply decline.  There is no 'law' that requires you to certify the work of contractors.  If you did include something in your contract that obligates you to do this, you should seek advice from an attorney in your jurisdiction that specializes in construction law (not a generalist).

    10.  When all other ideas have been exhausted, SEE item 1, above.

    Howard I. Littman, AIA, Emeritus
    Forensic Architect, Expert Witness
    Agoura Hills, CA

  • 25.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-19-2018 00:09
    Good day to all.... I'm wondering that there is conflict between design drawings and reality while there should be daily supervision during construction by all designers (Architect, Structure eng., and MEP)?? In this case the contractor should prepare the A's built set of drawings as he did not follow the approved design.. Besides, the client should cut from the handing over payment against this conflict . All designers have to raise a report mentioning all the changes in order not to be responsible for any sequences due to these changes............ The Stap Of drawing supposed to include Project on as built drawing supposed to include Name of the party who prepared the drawings under his responsibility, Signature of site manager, project manager, head of contractor  signature, the client signature for approval, and date action... if the Architect should stamp these drawing he must comment on it with all differences then sign....... thank you

    ESSAM EL MASRY Intl. Assoc. AIA
    Stellar DLC

  • 26.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-20-2018 15:34
    I think you've done the right thing by refusing to sign until the work matches the documents.  I question whether there's "almost no liability", but in any event, you don't want to be attesting to the state something that isn't true.  I suspect that could put your license at risk if discovered; it would in my state.

    Any tenant could make a claim that some part of the ADA provisions don't comply with the regulations.  There have also been quite a few attorneys and others who look for buildings they believe have violations, and either file a complaint, or ask the designer directly for corrections and a "damage" payment.

    And finally, I'd require your consultants to provide their own drawing certifications. You might want to include on the drawings what you depended on to produce them - for instance, "As-built drawings prepared from Contractor's redlines, no designer verification conducted." or "Prepared by designers based on xx hours of on-site verification of accessibility improvements."  If there is more work than the accessibility improvements, you should make clear whether you're providing as-builts for the whole design, or just the accessibility provisions.

    Jim Fitzhugh AIA
    RSP Architects, Ltd.
    Minneapolis MN

  • 27.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-21-2018 08:30
    We ask our consultants to prepare their own As-builts. We notice that contractors miss many items on their red-lined As-builts from the job trailer.  So we use photographs to determine the missing project items and show them on the drawings. Unfortunately, it is the "hidden" items that are the most important because they cannot be easily verified later.  We then date the drawings and call them "Project Record Drawings".
    We do not seal the project record drawings.

    Frank Marshall
    EI Associates
    Harrisburg PA

  • 28.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-22-2018 12:14
    It appears that the Contractor and Owner want you to draw up what they built to relieve them of any responsibility of what was built.  They then can point to your drawings at a later date and claim it has been built per the architect's drawings.  If what they built does not meet code and ADA, then it needs to be corrected.

    You are right about contacting your insurance company, because you may share in the liability of their screw up.  Periodic site visits that are appropriate to the phase of work should have been performed.  This would have allowed you the opportunity to observe the work in progress and catch any discrepancy with the Construction Documents.  Even if the Owner did not want to pay you for these services, you are still responsible for it.  Also, to send a junior person with little or no field experience is like a deer in the headlights of a car - they just admire that something they drew is being built and not what is being built and the contractor runs them over.

    James Sines AIA
    Technical Director
    Morris Adjmi Architects
    New York NY

  • 29.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-22-2018 12:30
    As my first boss - John Kincheloe (God rest his soul) - used to say, thinking out loud in the older white two-story house-turned-commercial-Office-space, to my immediate boss and me and another intern Architect and to the marketing/administrative assistant nearby: “the drawings show where and what, the specs define what and why, and the contractor knows how.” Or something to that effect.

    Tara Imani, AIA, NCIDQ, ASID, CSI
    Registered Architect + Interior Designer

    Tara Imani Designs, LLC
    10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 170
    Houston, TX 77042

    Work/Mobile Ph: 832-723-1798

  • 30.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-23-2018 19:06
    Regarding Mr. Sines' post, I think it is important for readers to know the following (contrary to what was posted):

    Post:  Periodic site visits that are appropriate to the phase of work should have been performed.  This would have allowed you the opportunity to observe the work in progress and catch any discrepancy with the Construction Documents.

    Comment:  The Architect, during normal construction administration observation visits, only ascertains that the work 'in general' appears consistent with the CD's.  The Architect is not charged with performing in-depth inspections/investigations to "...catch any discrepancy...".  It is the contractor, not the Architect, that is charged with ensuring there are no discrepancies (unless the A foolishly signs a contract with custom language that makes the A responsible, something I've never encountered).

    Post:  Even if the Owner did not want to pay you for these services, you are still responsible for it.

    Comment:   NO... the Architect is not responsible to perform services for which it has not been engaged, as detailed in its contract (and thus presumably paid the appropriate/agreed fees) - and is not responsible for the outcome if the Owner decides not to hire the Architect for CA services.   Architects are in business (despite that some Architects routinely perform some services out of some sense of moral 'rightness', even when they know the will not be paid for them).  Additionally, when the Architect is not engaged to perform CA observation on a regular basis, the Architect cannot 'certify' upon completion anything other than what is visible at the time a final punch-list inspection is performed.  This obviously cannot include any latent deficiencies...   and punch-list inspections are not detailed technical inspections that might detect anything other than gross errors (like the 1/4" variation in dimensions for ADA features that are often the meat of a lawsuit).  Moreover, practitioners would be well advised never to perform any service for which it is not engaged and paid, because the act of doing so voluntarily can create a liability without reimbursement (which will likely not be covered by your PL insurance).

    Howard I. Littman, AIA, Emeritus
    Forensic Architect, Expert Witness
    Agoura Hills, CA

  • 31.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-23-2018 19:56
    You beat me to it, Howard. The Architect is never under obligation to perform tasks they were not contracted to perform. We are licensed professional service providers, not trained monkeys that jump when someone rings a bell in exchange for bananas.

    One of the prior responses also indicated that the architect and all subconsultants are responsible for "daily supervision during construction." No, no, no! Neither daily visits or supervision are required under any model contract I am aware of, and both would be no go decisions for me if I saw one. Theoretically, we could do daily visits or full time observation if the client wanted to pay for it, but I may have trouble staffing that consistently for any significant duration. Also, even that may not be enough to "certify" that the work is completely correct, since you probably still wouldn't see every nail and screw installed. All it takes is one screw to be overdriven and all of a sudden you've provided a false statement. It may not seem like much, but it gives the lawyers something to gnaw on.

    I have had projects, primarily for the National Park Service, where we provided electronic transcription of the Contractor's record drawings, but... it was part of the contract negotiations up front and was strictly limited to being a scribe of the contractors hand-marked plans and incorporating sketches and modifications that we had prepared during CA, so those were already in CAD.

    If the Owner/Contractor are just coming at this late in the game after cutting you out of earlier construction phase involvement (which is my understanding of the original post), that's too late on their part.

    Also, as others have pointed out, we generally do not certify anything, but I understand that some jurisdictions, such as NYC, require a certification of some sort for permit close-out. I really don't know how I would handle that. One colleague recently noted that he makes liberal use of special inspection requirements, then references the special inspections in certification with the appropriate "to the best of our knowledge" language. Perhaps someone in one of those jurisdictions can chime in with how that is generally handled on their part.

    Steven Hovland AIA
    Associate Principal
    Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.
    Emeryville CA

  • 32.  RE: Architects asked to produce and certify as-built drawings

    Posted 05-23-2018 08:02
    You might do well to get advice from counsel as opposed to an Owner who tells you "there is almost no liability".  This will sound harsh and while I don't mean it to be, the unvarnished truth is often the best form of communication.

    Architects should never certify anything on the construction side. It is impossible to certify any construction conditions unless you conducted continuous on-site observation while that work was being completed. There is no other way to certify the nature and extent of the work in place, and it would be difficult even then.

    That said, understand that your malpractice insurance (and it is malpractice insurance – the term "errors and omissions" is a misleading misnomer) covers you for your inadvertent failure to meet the standard of care only. If you assume additional responsibilities by contract that are not imposed by the prevailing standard of care – such as certifying as built drawings - you will likely find that you have no insurance coverage.

    The DOJ does prosecute ADA compliance cases, and has on occasion tried to add claims against Architects. The statute and the case law are solid however and provide that liability only lies with the owner and operator of a building, and not the Architect. However where the Architect certifies as-built drawings, that may well change. In effect the Owner is asking the Architect to guarantee the building is in compliance with the ADA, and if the DOJ or a private plaintiff believes otherwise, the Architect is exposed to a claim he or she would not otherwise be subject to. Again, that could constitute an obligation assumed by contract, and again there would likely be no malpractice insurance coverage.

    As to consultants' work the law in every state that I am familiar with provides that an Architect may not seal work which was not prepared by the Architect or under the Architect's direct supervision and control. While some local municipalities may accept it, no Architect should ever seal the work of a consultant. That is what the consultant is for.

    Finally the question of "certify" must be addressed. Certify what? Certify that the construction comports with the as-built drawings in their final form? Certify that the work meets the ADA? While the answer to that question again likely puts the Architect beyond the reach of their insurance coverage, the cost of litigation necessary to resolve that question alone would pay a years' college tuition for one of the kids of the average defense attorney.  Certifications are analogous to warranties, and warranties - which imply absolute complaince - are not within the scope of your insurance coverage.  The only thing you really warrant is that you complied with the prevailing standard of care in the course of the preparation of your work product.  Odd as it sounds, there can be situations where the Architect complied with the standard of care and yet failed to achieve code compliance or come other project objective.  Where that occurs, the Architect has no liability, unless of course the Architect assumed liability by contract.

    I get that clients ask for it – but that doesn't make it a difficult situation. I have many clients who call me and ask me not for advice as to what they should do, but instead to endorse something they have already decided they would like to do. I decline politely and explain why. Your client pays you for your advice, not your seal. In that instance your advice should really be in the form of an explanation as to why you cannot comply with the request.

    If the Owner really needs certification to the effect that the work comports with as-built drawings that should come from the contractor who had control over the execution of the work.  If the Owner expects some sort of guarantee to the effect that the design and the work comport with the ADA (which honestly this sounds a lot like) then the Owner is expecting something no Architect can ever really, and really shold never provide.

    Frederick Butters, FAIA, Esq.
    Attorney at Law
    Frederick F. Butters, PLLC
    Southfield Michigan