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liability risk in a town without building inspection

fenwayrabbit

I am an architect in MA. A client came to me recently with a vacation home project in a town in New Hampshire. This town doesn't have any building inspection service. Instead, the town will ask the owner and the builder to sign an affidavit to promise that the building has been constructed complying with all code. I emailed the town's staff and verified the information, but I noticed the staff's email address ends with .org not .gov. This is a fun project, I am very interesed, but concerned that the  town's regulation might conflict with the state of NH's requirement. Even it doesn't, will it has liability risk for an architect with the affidavit from the owner and the builder?

 Anyone has any experience like this or any advice? Many thanks.

 
Apr 15, 23 11:22 am
reallynotmyname

Barring any conflicts with state regulations (which you totally need to research), the arrangement looks like it places responsibility squarely on the owner and builder and not you.

See if the town will give you model language for the affidavits or pre-approve the language if your client and builder have to write them your selves.  A 15-30 minute review of these documents by an attorney wouldn't hurt either.

Are you concerned that the owner & builder will put you in a position where they signed the affidavits "because you told them to, based on your assurances that everything was built to code"?   If that's a concern, maybe talk to the owner about hiring a third party independent building inspector.

Apr 15, 23 1:29 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

I would not think this arrangement places any more liability on you than it would previously or in a jurisdiction with greater oversight. If anything you may have less liability because of non-existent land use constraints that could create liability. Generally, AHJ inspection and review do not absolve you of any of your professional liability. It's nice to have a second set of eyes but they won't stand in front of a bullet for you. 

Apr 15, 23 2:02 pm  · 
3  · 
ivanmillya

Wrong. Building code compliance in design always rests on the architect, regardless of the building department's involvement (or lack thereof). Just because a building plan reviewer or inspector doesn't catch an error or omission does not relieve the architect of responsibility for designing properly, nor does it relieve the licensed contractor from their responsibility for building properly.

Apr 17, 23 7:23 am  · 
6  · 

As Jovan said - the compliance part ALWAYS rests with the architect. In our drawings we have a code review and a report of special inspections. That is enough to show that we ensured compliance for codes and inspections. 

Apr 17, 23 12:01 pm  · 
2  · 
JonathanLivingston

Tell em you told them, but do tell them, and do so on your drawings and contract.  Same as everywhere else.

Apr 17, 23 2:22 pm  · 
2  · 

Yup!

Apr 17, 23 2:46 pm  · 
1  · 
JonathanLivingston

Doesnt matter what they do. You told them.

Apr 17, 23 6:59 pm  · 
1  · 
ivanmillya

Rick, I highly recommend you study up on your Practice Management and Project Management exams for the ARE, they'll help you a lot in learning how architecture firms actually work.

Apr 17, 23 7:10 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

Fortune favors the brave.

Apr 17, 23 8:34 pm  · 
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JonathanLivingston

Rick'd it.

Apr 17, 23 10:30 pm  · 
3  · 
luvu

.

Apr 19, 23 9:23 pm  · 
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luvu

My 2c : I’d consult with my PI insurance rep./ ask them to review the contract/ agreement.


If they advise against this agreement/ better not take the job. It’s either this project is not covered or you pay more fee on PI.







Apr 16, 23 12:07 am  · 
1  · 
x-jla

Liability has the potential to affect 3 parties.  1.designer of record.  2. Homeowner.  3.  Contractor.   Inspections or approvals don’t  take the liability weight off, although they may help a little in a court if it came to that.   

Apr 17, 23 4:10 pm  · 
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Kind of - if you show that your drawings where correct and the contractor didn't follow them the architect typically won't be involved past mediation. Then again you can still be sued for anything, anytime.

Apr 17, 23 5:15 pm  · 
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luvu

A precedent case in our justification the court has ordered

Apr 17, 23 10:29 pm  · 
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luvu

Fire engineer 42 %

Apr 17, 23 10:30 pm  · 
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luvu

damn hard to write on phone… never mind

Apr 17, 23 10:31 pm  · 
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Le Courvoisier

NCARB should let Balkins take the ARE even though he doesn’t have a degree.


want to see that reality check face slap 

Apr 17, 23 9:56 pm  · 
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deltar

But then we will get a 5,000 word essay on why NCARB is corrupt and the AREs not being a good measure of architectural prowess.

Apr 18, 23 1:46 pm  · 
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We get those anyways from users like Non-ASD and others who have fallen short of being a competent architect. Then we have users like WoodGuy who isn't an architect but creates great single family projects and is very informative.  

Apr 18, 23 1:56 pm  · 
5  · 
Bench

Pretty sure he claims he is now eligible for it and was going to start taking them imminently. That was roughly 3-4 years ago. For context, I got licensed in 2 different countries over that same time period.

Apr 19, 23 9:33 am  · 
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Bench

Oh looks like his rambling got nuked. Again...

Apr 19, 23 9:33 am  · 
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Two countries?! Nice!  I'm only licensed in one country and that took me three years.  I'm clearly lame.  


Apr 19, 23 10:32 am  · 
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deltar

If it makes you feel any better I'm licensed in 0 countries at this point in time but I'm in school so I have an excuse.

Apr 19, 23 12:03 pm  · 
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Bench

Chad if it makes you feel better, you've definitely used that * actual * license in one country many more times than i've used either of mine :(

Ironically, i think i am eligible for a third country license, and there's a non-zero chance that could be in the cards down the line.

Apr 19, 23 12:19 pm  · 
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Bench - Pfffft! I'm not signing any drawings so I'm really not using my license.  ;) I still think your accomplishments are impressive!

Apr 19, 23 12:49 pm  · 
3  · 
Wood Guy

Aw shucks, thanks Chad. I do wish there was a way to take a test, no matter how difficult, that would let me not have to work under a licensed architect for 13 years before being eligible for licensure. But I understand why the rules in place.

Apr 19, 23 6:19 pm  · 
2  · 

I agree Wood. There should be a way for people with the amount of experience you have to just take the exam. You'd pass with no issues.

Apr 20, 23 10:08 am  · 
2  · 
Le Courvoisier

Balkins, do you get paid by the word? That’s the only explanation for your incessant, incorrect, rambling.

Apr 17, 23 10:16 pm  · 
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graphemic

^ What is up with these radon bots?

May 24, 23 4:47 pm  · 
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omaharadonpros

If you're uncertain about the liability risks associated with the project, consider consulting with legal counsel specializing in construction law. They can provide guidance on navigating regulatory issues and drafting contracts that protect your interests.

Feb 7, 24 4:09 am  · 
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