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Waiving Liability w/ no CA services

  • 1.  Waiving Liability w/ no CA services

    Posted 02-05-2019 03:18 PM
    I'm hoping I can get some advice on clients who would like to engage my services through building permit only.  I have language in my contract that states that liability is waived should I not be retained for CA.  If it is already agreed upon that the client does NOT want CA (or construction documents for that matter) do I have them sign the contract anyway knowing I will be waiving liability?  Should I even contract with an owner who is requesting up to permit drawings only, and sign and seal those drawings?  I'm happy to do Schematic Design services only and I have a separate contract for that but this would be a first where a building permit is requested.

    I'm asking in general but the project in question is an interior renovation of a Master Suite in a condo building.

    Adrienne Turner AIA
    Swiatocha Architecture & Design
    Philadelphia PA

  • 2.  RE: Waiving Liability w/ no CA services

    Posted 02-05-2019 04:48 PM
    HI Adrienne,

    You should really contact your attorney and your professional liability insurance company to see if that wording actually voids yourself legally of your own professional errors and omissions. My uneducated guess (note: I only play an attorney on TV) is that it does not. So if a problem were to occur, wouldn't you be in the same place, defending yourself that the problem wasn't your error or omission? It has nothing to do with construction observation, other than its a safeguard for you to observe errors that could be a problem, and are not your fault! In the many years that I have spent hanging out here at this forum, and as a groupie at CRAN symposiums, I can't tell you how many times that we have been told that the likelihood of one getting sued goes up exponentially when you don't do construction observation, because human nature is that everything becomes the fault of the person that is not there to defend themselves in person.

    Good luck,

    David Andreozzi, Architect

    David Andreozzi AIA
    Barrington RI

  • 3.  RE: Waiving Liability w/ no CA services

    Posted 02-06-2019 05:43 PM

    Be especially careful on this particular project as it is a condo building.  Most insurance companies don't want us to even
    work on them.  Interior work, if plumbing is involved, for instance, can affect neighbor units during construction and
    result in lawsuits from outside of the client you contract with.  I do believe that you can (with the assistance of an attorney) create a carefully
    worded contract that states that you are not doing CA and are indemnified against claims....but property gets sold (more frequently
    with condos) and you will potentially have future owners of that property who might take issue with work that was done.  Best to at least feel comfortable HOW the work was done, than be in the dark during construction.  And you mentioned that the owner doesn't even want CD's.  But you would have to complete those to get the project permit ready.

    I had a recent good size new construction project where the general contractor convinced the client upon signing his contract that the client would be saving a lot of money by not having the architect involved during construction.  No site meetings.  No observation.  Contractors often exclusively have the ear of the property owner during construction and you don't have any way to know what is being done incorrectly and falsely blamed on your drawings.  It can be a real nightmare to be out of the loop. Clients need to be educated that they don't get what they don't pay for.  
    Your being involved in CA is mutually beneficial, and is a tiny portion of our fee as architects.  We are problem solvers, and issues come up, especially in existing buildings, which can often require a thoughtful solution so the owner doesn't need to compromise their goals.  Some contractors are good at this, but not all.  Two heads are better than one.

    Stand your ground.

    Gina Moffitt, AIA

    Gina Moffitt AIA
    Kiyohara Moffitt
    Los Angeles CA

  • 4.  RE: Waiving Liability w/ no CA services

    Posted 02-07-2019 06:20 PM
    AMEN  !!

    Thomas Hirsch, FAIA
    Madison, Wisconsin

  • 5.  RE: Waiving Liability w/ no CA services

    Posted 02-10-2019 05:03 PM
    Is the owner pulling permit as an owner builder or are they contracting with a general contractor?

    Ricardo Ramos, Assoc. AIA, LEED® AP, CSI
    Project Manager
    Arcadia CA