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Permit Drawings/Standard of Care

BulgarBlogger

If an Architect is hired to do Permit drawings, but not a full set of construction drawings and details, and is also not hired to perform construction oversight- just to make sure the work substantially conforms to the permit drawings so the owner can ontain a Certificate of Occupancy-is the Architect still liable for deficiencies, such as leaks, that result from contractor errors? 

 
Jan 17, 19 7:33 pm
Non Sequitur

Depends.  Our jurisdiction requires a signed form by all professionals prior to issuing a permit that state who is responsible during the CA.  If anything needs an arch's stamp, an arch needs to review during construction and stamp the occupancy letter so I don't know how one could just duck out at the permit phase... but if that's possible, I could see there being some simple language in the contract and a large "not for construction" note on the drawings that would remove most, if not all, liability.

Jan 17, 19 7:39 pm
BulgarBlogger

New York does not allow "Not For Construction" on DOB drawings. However, NYC plan examiners don't look at waterproofing details. They don't care. So if those are not ever produced, and you have a leaky facade, is the architect liable?

Jan 17, 19 7:43 pm

That's up to the lawyers.

geezertect

That's right, you'll find out at the end of the lawsuit. I don't know why any architect would only do the permit drawings but not the finals. Would a surgeon split the patient open and remove the kidney, and then let somebody else oversee the rest of the operation? Ah, but it seems like some architects just love to put themselves in these kinds of positions.

BulgarBlogger

I don't get it either; but I think the reason this happens is because architects want the money (however little it is at the end of the day) AND - they get talked into it by the developer.

mightyaa

Depends.  Be clear in your contracts.  Modify them to suit the services you are providing and limited field observations.  Also do the normal CYA note stuff for 'builder set of drawings' (experience GC and sub-contractors, drawings aren't all inclusive,  drawings represent design intent, follow manufacturer installation requirements, call if they have questions, etc.).  When you are in the field, I'd limit observation reports to just 'non-conforming' items and general construction progress... make sure you have some more boilerplate language on them that your visit didn't look at everything.  The clearer you are on what you are responsible for and what you are not, as well as what you did, the less risk you'll have.

Generally, I can only hang the architect if you have broken details that failed or I can show you accepted something you should not have.  What matters is "reasonable and prudent in the same or similar situation".  So the more you can inform me, an outside expert, of what the situation was, the easier it is to put myself in your shoes for what is 'reasonable'.  

The only other ones are ones where I've got the architect on-site taking photos of something really wrong then zero comment about it (duty failure to notify the owner/contractor of deficient work). Basically, teach whomever is in the field to take intentional photographs of specific things they are looking at instead of being a shutterbug.

Jan 17, 19 8:29 pm
BulgarBlogger

This is not me btw- I am the one hired by the plaintiff.

Jan 17, 19 8:52 pm
( o Y o )

"Hey - Paul McCartney! Can you sign an autograph for my girlfriend?"

"Sure, mate. Wot's 'er name?"

"Bulgar."

Jan 17, 19 9:17 pm
poop876

At the end it does not matter at all. If something happens they can simply name you in the lawsuit and you will be out of your deductible and usually your insurance company will settle anyways. 

Jan 18, 19 9:12 am
JLC-1

.

Jan 18, 19 10:33 am
geezertect

BB:  You've been hired by a plaintiff?  Is there a lawsuit in progress?  Sounds like there's a back story here.

Jan 18, 19 10:45 am
BulgarBlogger

yes- plaintiff bought property that was flipped by developer whose gc built according to permit drawings only without consideration for any other issues, such as flashing and waterproofing.

mightyaa

In that case BB, look at their contract, look at field reports/emails (disclosure documents), look at the detailing, and decide that if it were you doing that project, would you have handled it the same way...  If they did, then your opinion is they met the standard of care.  If not.... write out why you believe they fell below your standards as a peer.

You can't also be wishy washy and do the "well maybe if..."  You need to think in absolutes; it will or it won't work based on your experience.  There's no such thing as 'it wouldn't leak if that ice wasn't there'... you are in the area, you know what can be normally anticipated like ice in shade.  

Another pitfall is "industry standard" which is NOT standard of care.  Example; Speed limit is 55 - that is the law and standard of care.  Everyone might drive 65-70 (industry standard), but they all know it is against the law and are knowingly violating it which may result in consequences.  Therefore they fail to meet the standard of care.

Another phrase I like:  A building constructed just to building code is the worst legal building you can erect.  Standard of care can exceed code requirements.  So, you know code might allow ducts to route across the roof and that's fine in Miami..  But in NY, it'd be stupid to think that is a reasonable and prudent design option without some really good reason...

Jan 18, 19 11:25 am
BulgarBlogger

mightyaa:

This was a quick flip. There were no field reports etc. The architect prepared permit drawings, signed off the job as it was drawn, and walked away. The GC figure out all the waterproofing details and produced no shop drawings. There was basically no oversight. So my question is: can the architect be held liable for third party claims by not overseeing the project because his contractual scope was limited to just the permit drawings? 

Jan 18, 19 1:01 pm
geezertect

In the real world of litigation, the architect can be held liable.  My father was a lawyer who defended an architect in such a scenario.  He lost.  In a just world, he would be liable only for what he agreed to do, but we don't live in a just world.  Sounds like you're going over to the dark side and looking for the easiest target to screw.  Hope the plaintiff is paying you well for your testimony.

Jan 18, 19 2:12 pm
mightyaa

In my opinion... nope.  The arch would have no way to know what deviations, quality, etc. were happening on the project.  What I typically do is simply state the GC could have made a call, or issued a RFI, etc. if he didn't know how to put something together and no detail.  The architect had no way to answer a question that wasn't ever asked.  

the only caveat is you mentioned "make sure the work conformed to the permit drawings".  If the architect was supposed to do this for the owner .. then failed to perform that duty by not ever looking at the construction.... he handed the plaintiff a big stick to pound him with..   Depending on what the causation is of the leak, and say it's something like they didn't install a WRB and flashing that would have been obvious, it's an easy one to pin over to the architect for contributing because he failed to identify and was supposed to be the eyes of the owner as a construction professional.  So the architect wouldn't walk.

Worst one (as far as feeling bad for the architect) was the architect was doing CA, and rejected stuff regularly because the GC/Owner were going cowboy and making all sorts of deviations.  The Owner/Developer got tired of the architect poo-poo'ing all these changes and terminated the arch.  A collapse occurred while occupied by the new owners.  The architect still got hung because as a architect you also have a duty to the State as part of your license and knew there were all sorts of problems.... then did nothing with that information, report it to the building dept, etc. and should have reasonably inferred based on what he knew it was going to get real bad and pose a hazard (he knew they'd been moving walls around... so bearing conditions, etc.). 

Jan 18, 19 2:30 pm
whistler

If something fails in the home and say an insurance company pays for the repair then they likely will come after everyone with what is called a surrogated claim to try and get some % of their cost back through the insurance policies of those involved.  Even if the Architect didn't provide a full level of service.  A) the "professional should have known better. B) minimum care and service is expected in most regions ( it is in my territory and has been a bylaw for close to 15 years. C) If you have insurance they will come after you ( it is also a requirement to have liability insurance in my region as well.  

I have been drawn into two claims that I had nothing to do with but had to defend myself and both dragged on for years each.  Not a pleasant experience so bottom line do your job and do it well.

Jan 18, 19 2:33 pm
archi_dude

I think the disconnect lies in the misunderstanding of roles of an architect. Many architects think their main role is design and are willing to be talked into reducing their fee and scope to reflect that mindset. Legally the architects role is providing a working project that looks out for the safety and welfare of the public. I’d define welfare as a working building that isn’t a lemon. Accepting lower fees and doing less does not shield oneself from this liability and legal expectation. 

Jan 18, 19 5:31 pm
BulgarBlogger

I am curious what language an Architect can add to a set of Permit drawings that would cover him in case the contractor goes rogue.

Jan 20, 19 11:19 pm
whistler

there is nothing to add to the drawings to protect you.... best thing is to take your name off the project and claim the drawings were stolen from you.... that's actually happened to me too, haha thankfully the plan checker at the local municipality is a friend and caught the guy!

( o Y o )

The entire system is run by lawyers and insurance companies for their own benefit. Plan reviewers and municipal building departments have no liability.

It's time to bring back the Code of Hammurabi.

Jan 21, 19 12:10 am
RickB-Astoria

FOR WHATEVER THE LEGAL ISSUES, YOU CAN CERTAINLY IGNORE THIS POST.

I understand this is directed at Architects but something smells like bullshit when I read "If an Architect is hired to do Permit drawings, but not a full set of construction drawings and details, and is also not hired to perform construction oversight...".

Isn't full construction documents what permit drawings (actually its "submittal documents" when it comes to building codes and permits) are suppose to be? They are suppose to be complete. My opinion is basically ---- You submit all or nothing to building departments. 

Okay, there's the phased submission approach BUT even in phased submission approach you are suppose submit all required submittal documents for any particular certain level of work to be performed before requiring another batch of drawings and specifications for the next group of work to be permitted to be performed. Ultimately, for all work to be permitted requires complete construction documents. 

This partial construction documents is basically partial "permit drawings" because for practical meaning.... permit drawings IS the construction documents. Actually, it's "submittal documents" so it's two ways of saying the same thing. The submittal documents and construction documents are suppose to be one and the same. If what you submit is incomplete then you are potentially aiding and abetting construction work to be performed without permits or other potentially fraudulent practices. 

As a rule: You do all of it or you do none of it BUT none of this half-ass bullshit.

NOTE: I don't count contractor shop drawings as "construction documents" but supporting documents. Contractor "shop drawings" need not be completed before permits are issued but it would be nice but that's another issue and that would not be what you would be contractually responsible for unless you are also the contractor.

FOR WHATEVER THE LEGAL ISSUES, YOU CAN CERTAINLY IGNORE THIS POST.

Jan 21, 19 3:01 am
Non Sequitur

Ricky, your opinion here is equal to your experience level, ie. very poor.

BulgarBlogger

Rick- Permit drawings show the entire set as applicable to plan reviews for life safety and zoning. Plan examiners don't care if they see flashing or waterproofing details. They also don't care to see interior elevations, finish schedules, etc. So you end up being selective anyway about what you include in the construction set vs the permit set.

Jan 21, 19 12:38 pm
RickB-Astoria

Personally, I don't care if they don't care that the plan reviewer doesn't care if they see flashing or waterproofing detail, etc. The builders are generally going to use the permit approved documents (or copies of it) IF they are going to use plans instead of deviating. In other words, I'm not issuing two different sets of plans... one being for the building department and another for the contractors. It's the same document in full. I understand that you may give the building department a subset of the full documents.

Non Sequitur

Permit plans are typically NOT issued as is to the GC for construction... Ricky, it is common to issue a final IFC set once the permit is granted. This way, you can capture any item raised during permit review and tendering process. This is something you SHOULD be well aware of. Also important to note is that submitting a partial set of drawings for the purpose of permit (ie. life-safety review) cuts your project time by several weeks since you can get the permit process rolling while you complete the non-permit relevant details/specs. Again... nothing unique here, just business as usual for those in the business.

BulgarBlogger

+1 Non Sequitur

BulgarBlogger

+1 Non Sequitur

mightyaa

No such thing as a complete set of drawings. Per code, there are submittal minimums. Per standard of care, there are reasonable norms and plenty of supporting documents as to what should be in a drawing set. Omissions are hard to pin on a design team, and there's even normally a duty for the contractor to notify the architect if they believe something is missing.

RickB-Astoria

N.S., yes, good point there but I usually don't send out the CDs until they are as complete and thorough and go through the permit process. Basically, they are copies of the approved plans and documents. While I agree with mightyaa that there is no such thing as an absolutely complete CDs but the point is that they would be substantially complete regarding standards. While there is certainly possibility for revisions but those are the additional stuff that may sometimes need to go through plan review for approval of changes that are substantive. What I mean be complete isn't the absolute level but in that it is substantially complete. I strive to have things complete before copies are issued to the builders and permits. In addition, revisions that need to be made are added to the permit set after review and added to the sets permitted and reviewed initially. The point is not to submit something for review and then build something else with substantially different plans & documents. It is important for consistency and thoroughness.

BulgarBlogger

This is why you can amend filing drawings after permit... at least in NYC- a classic example: GC needed to build a soffit due to a hvac/plumbing conflic and now needs ro add a sprinkler head to achieve coverage.

RickB-Astoria

Yep. I try to minimize having to do that. It is why I hate projects being rushed to meet some date over getting it right and proper (the best one can). It is always with consternation to have to do revisions after permits are issued.

RickB-Astoria

N.S.,

You wrote: Permit plans are typically NOT issued as is to the GC for construction... Ricky, it is common to issue a final IFC set once the permit is granted. This way, you can capture any item raised during permit review and tendering process. This is something you SHOULD be well aware of. Also important to note is that submitting a partial set of drawings for the purpose of permit (ie. life-safety review) cuts your project time by several weeks since you can get the permit process rolling while you complete the non-permit relevant details/specs. Again... nothing unique here, just business as usual for those in the business.

I agree that some stuff can be submitted through a phased submission methodology with life-safety and structural systems (for load-path and all) is able to be submitted before other stuff that can be done later. 

It's nothing unique, of course. 


Threesleeve

Rick for how many projects have your drawings been submitted for permits?

RickB-Astoria

.

Threesleeve

Exactly.

Non Sequitur

and Ricky, what's the average length & size of those drawing sets?

RickB-Astoria

Each page is 36" x 48" x 8" thick basalt slabs and drawings are etched in stone. Remarkable degree of texture and permanence. 

NOTE: If you think I'm serious by the above then there is something seriously wrong with you.

LAPermits

I would look to see if the Permit Set was used to obtain a Building Permit.  In my experience, the Permit set is usually only the site plan, floor plan, elevations, maybe sections, maybe a roof plan, and maybe a landscape plan.  No plumbing, no electrical, no finishes, no material schedule, etc.  The level of detail is not sufficient for a Building Permit.  If a separate architect or engineer created the plan check set and stamped the plans that would be the one liable for construction defect.  Also, there are usually corrections, who incorporated those changes?

Jan 25, 19 10:48 am

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