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How to Deal w/ Client That Does Not Want to Apply for Permits

crisprods

Morning everyone,

Have worked for about 6 years designing and drafting for a architecture firms. Though not a RA yet.

Got a real estate agent friend that insisted I help one of his clients with a interior kitchen and living area remodel. I disclosed that I am not a licensed professional. They then revealed that they do not want to pull permits for this work, that was also my friends recommendation to them.

Clients were pretty laid back and agreed to my fee and requirements that I would only be a designer and not be involved in the construction of the project.

How can I approach the rest of this project to make sure that I protect myself and also do a good job, any experiences you can share? Things I should put in the plans?

 
Jul 19, 22 12:42 pm

Have it written into your project that the client is responsible for obtaining all required permits, inspections, and complying with all applicable building codes.  


Jul 19, 22 1:18 pm  · 
2  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

Maybe add something along the lines of, these drawings are to convey design intent, and are not considered for construction.

Jul 19, 22 1:48 pm  · 
3  · 

I would not prepare construction documents that would be for permits and like what Chad and b3tadine said for anything I prepare. Additionally, contract should always be in writing and you should have in the contract some term that you will not be held liable for any construction work they do without permits. 


Jul 19, 22 1:56 pm  · 
 · 
Miyadaiku

Are permits required and they are unwilling to apply or are permits just not required? Those are different things; I'll let you use your judgement on which one is ok.

While it isn't incredibly common(I hope?) for a client to jump the gun and just do work without permits, it happens more often than you think. Usually it's some form of negligence on their end(still not good). Personally, I would avoid working with someone who willingly discloses that they will not obtain permits if they are needed.




Jul 19, 22 11:26 pm  · 
 · 
Wood Guy

A code enforcement official once laid things out for me when I was trying to get away with something on behalf of my client, with my employer's encouragement. He said that his responsibility was to protect the interests and safety of the municipality and its residents. My responsibility, he suggested, was to protect the interests and safety of my client and my company, even if it wasn't necessarily what they wanted.

He asked whether what I was trying to do would protect my client and my company, or open us up to potential danger and law suits. The answer of course was no; that little conversation changed my career and I won't enter into any situation where I am knowingly exposing my clients or myself to potentially dangerous or illegal activities. 

Jul 20, 22 8:17 am  · 
2  · 

I agree. I would have a clause that would A) indicate that the client will be responsible for obtaining permits, and B) a clause regarding the client holding you harmless and indemnifying you from any consequence of use of drawings for construction without permits holding the client or client's contractor/subcontractors as it may. 

I also agree with the suggestions by Chad Miller and b3tadine. You advise your client as a professional and that includes your professional obligation as the standard of care would indicate advising clients to abide by the laws and legal requirements. 

Of course, you're not there to give them legal advice as a lawyer but you have professional duty of care to not do illegal activity in the course of performing your services and advise to your client that you will not be a party to facilitating or aiding and abetting potentially dangerous or illegal activities such as construction without a permit when a permit is required. 

I may even include it in the contractual terms that client demanding professional to facilitating or aiding in potentially dangerous or illegal activities, as a contractually valid basis for the professional to terminating services with the client.

Jul 20, 22 2:12 pm  · 
 · 
zurijordyn

Morning everyone,

Have worked for about 6 years designing and drafting for a architecture firms. Though not a RA yet.
Clients were pretty laid back and agreed to my fee and requirements that I would only be a designer and not be involved in the construction of the project.
How can I approach the rest of this project to make sure that I protect myself and also do a good job, any experiences you can share? Things I should put in the plans?

Jul 21, 22 7:59 am  · 
 · 
whistler

Run!. Doesn't matter what you write into the contract you are seen in the eyes of the law as "the professional" regardless of your actual professional standing.  Scope creep happens all the time and once they start moving and expanding the scope of work ( assuming its a reno ) the issues can become significant.  I had a builder get red flagged by the local building department when they saw an old toilet out on the curb. Same inspector actually goes to open houses and reviews the build against the plans they have on file and comes back and busts the balls of the owner.  He's a dick!


Sep 30, 22 7:22 pm  · 
2  · 
reallynotmyname

You need to research and find out from the local authorities what the town where the project is located will allow.   Where I live, you wouldn't need a permit if you don't change the plumbing locations, don't add any electrical circuits, and don't move any bearing walls.

If you learn that the locality will require a permit for what is being planned and the client still resists, you should walk away.

Oct 1, 22 9:29 am  · 
 · 
reallynotmyname

The people who don't want to get permits are usually the same people who decide they don't have to pay their designer's fees.

Oct 1, 22 11:16 am  · 
1  · 
bennyc

Prepare a design contract, and clearly state on contract as well as on the drawing you provide that drawings are design drawings only, subject to local code and zoning and authority having jurisdiction and you are not liable for any issues as a result of providing those drawings. 

Oct 1, 22 11:07 am  · 
 · 
whistler

That won't get you out of the lawsuit, you may be able to argue it but you've lost the battle as soon as you get drawn into the lawyers office. The process is draining the day in court just means it will get resolved and as soon as your insurer sees you have a law suit whether it's your fault or not you premiums go through the roof.

Oct 3, 22 4:19 pm  · 
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