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I have included in my standard owner-architect agreements a clause that specifically states that if a permit, variance, etc. is required for the project, that the Owner agrees to such permits. This is to avoid the situation where an Owner has spent considerable money and time re: design services and at the beginning of construction you find out there is no intent for a permit....you are then in a very difficult position of refusing to issue drawings or in some way becoming complicit with the non-permitted construction. If they proceed w/o the permit then "the agreement shall be terminated and the Architect will no longer provide services for the Project." My agreement further states the Owner will indemnify my firm for claims, losses, etc. related to non-permitted work. I also make this clear as part of the negotiations before starting design services (which includes an explanation that despite the pain that building departments can cause at times, that getting a permit is in their best interest. This includes filling out real estate sale disclosure forms that ask if all work has been permitted!).
I truly do believe building permits are in an Owner's best interests. Many Owners and Contractors view it as a necessary evil and a way to jack up property taxes. Some of this is true, but a little education on my part goes a long way to reduce the "evil factor" and increase the "your best interests" factor.
One final thought. My issued drawings include 1) my seal, 2) "Issued for Construction" in the title block corner, and 3) a big fat title that states "CD100 – For Permit and Construction (date)". Anything issued before this includes a statement that these are in-progress drawings and not for construction.
Best wishes in resolving your current issue.
Steve Robinson AIA
Axios Architecture LLC | 2218 Lebaron Drive | Atlanta, Georgia | 30345 | 404/636-0611
I had a similar experience but the client had built two stories instead of the one I designed. I charged him for the time it took to inspect and measure the existing conditions and prepare a new set "Existing Conditions" plans. I also had him hire an engineer to verify structural soundness which he submitted with my plans.
Thad Broom, AIA Emeritus
Thad A. Broom, A.I.A. Emeritus
220 Olivine Ave # 104
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Tel: (757) 618 1125
To everyone who responded about unpermitted work - Mahalo! (Thank you in Hawaiian)
Unpermitted work in Maui is rampant. Two or three times a year I get a call from someone who needs after-the-fact plans, or even worse, plans but no permit. I always turn them down. But this time was different, it was my own project!
When I was President of AIA Maui Chapter, I wrote a letter to the Mayor of Maui County and proposed a mandatory inspection of any real property listed for sale. When I bought my house here, the title search uncovered an open permit from years earlier. The previous owner never got the required inspections. The house had been sold several times since then. Each time the liability for unpermitted work was passed along to the new owner. How is this possible, as Robert Zumwalt, AIA, pointed out? We can't rely on the title company. I told the mayor this practice should be illegal. There is such a law in Newport Beach, CA, where I am also licensed.
It undermines our profession when the practice of unpermitted work is so common. Who needs an architect if people feel they don't need plans, permits or inspections?
I have sent a letter of non responsibility to my client for the work done. Then I'll submit a proposal for additional services with some of the conditions J.Kretschmer suggested.