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  1. #1
    Barry Novick Guest

    Default Architect mistakes- who pays?

    On one of my addition jobs, I am now onto the third mistake on the plans. I am very frustrated, and not sure what I should do.

    The architect did not have any final grade on the print, and I did not think of it and the height of the doors. Well, now I 've got a door needing three or four steps, and I think the client wants concrete & brick ones built.

    I never include landscaping in my jobs, and I always tell my clients when I'm selling the jobs, if it's on the print, it is included, unless a particular item is excluded in the contract.

    My client feels I should pay (or the architect--as long as he doesn't have to), I was at the site and should have seen this coming. I contend it was not on the print, nor were grades, and steps could be part of landscape.

    I think I'll offer to build the landing and steps out of wood at no charge, anything else he pays for.

    BTW- I gave the homeowner the architect's name and number, but the homeowner hired him directly.

    Barry

  2. #2
    GACC Dallas Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Barry,

    I have never seen an architect pay for anything he did wrong, forgot, mis-drew, left out, over looked, under engineered, etc.

    If you can get this guy to go out of his pocket, my hat is off to you sir.

    Go get 'em.

    Ed. williams

  3. #3
    Michael Stone Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Barry:

    Depending on the situation and how hard you may wish to push the issue, Architects carry E & O insurance (errors and omissions). I don't know if this insurance is required for Architects in your state but you might check into it. A nice letter from your attorney can help them see the subject a bit clearer, especially if paying for the omission is cheaper than defending themselves against your claim in court. I'm not one for pushing law suits, but where does one draw the line here? I think Ed is right.

    Michael

  4. #4
    Allan Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Barry:

    I don’t think I have ever built a new home where there wasn’t some kind of mistake by the architect that I had to correct. I have never back-charged an architect, never would. It’s just part of the game. The “high-end” architect that I “interviewed” with a few months ago made it a point to tell me that if he made mistakes he would reimburse the builder. Again, I would never charge an architect for mistakes, I would absorb them. If it was a custom job, I would also make it a point not to point out architect’s mistakes to the client (like all builders do). This serves no purpose. Just smile, cover for him best you can, and move on.

    Allan

  5. #5
    jason_dd Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    some thoughts from the architect's point of view, or at least my pov.

    for the record, i have paid out of my own pocket for design issues for which i have been responsible. offices where i have worked have done the same.

    i don't have the legal fine points off the top of my head, maybe Dick can shed some light. however, here is what i see as fair:

    something left out of the drawings, but has to be there anyway (i.e. a front door): owner pays. they would have had to pay for it one way or the other to get a complete, usable project.

    design error causing contractor to re-do/re-order...: architect pays. for example, i drew some side walls of a custom built tub. when actually built, they were obviously way too high for client to get in and out of tub comfortably. i paid contractor for demo and re-work.

    contractor makes error: contractor pays

    i guess what i hope for is that contractor, architect and client play like they are on the same team. as allen says, the contractor and arch really ought to have some flexibility, with one covering for other, within reason. chances are they will work together again, and everyone screws up sometime.

    in barry's case, it doesn't seem all that clear. the only facts we have are there was no indication of grade on dwgs, and 3 or 4 steps are now required. 3 or 4 steps could mean a change in elevation between 12" and 24", which seems to me like a healthy oversight by both arch and contractor.

    if, no matter how the project was built, the steps would have been required, then, imho, owner ought to pay, as they needed them anyway. if other areas of drawings clearly make it so the steps weren't needed, then contractor ought to pay. if the steps are required because the arch had the wrong info on drawings, causing the coordination error, then arch ought to pay.

    of course then the issue of anticipated work comes into play. extra work, schedule changes, rush shipping..... even if the client pays for the steps (material and labor), i might pony up the extra costs to the contractor to recognize that as a "change" they cost more than if included originally.

    what kind of materials/labor rqrd and related costs will of course determine price. just because they might not have to pay for them, doesn't give the client the right to order gold-plated steps.

    again, this is what seems fair, and probably isn't the most accurate according to law. but, i think the world works better if we assume mutual good-will and fairness.

  6. #6
    Barry Novick Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Allan,

    I have also, thru the years and many jobs, just did the extra work and never said anything to the homeowner about the mistake.

    I'm just sick of everybody thinking the builders make SO MUCH money, let them pay for everything. I also had a another problem with this same job when we first got started. There was no mention on the prints of a tree that needed to come out, stump and all. The client could not understand how I did not include this in my contract, and I explained to him I priced out the prints, and there was no tree on the prints.

    While I think it is reasonable for the client to expect steps at his side door, I feel he should pay, since they were never talked about, they are not on the print or my scope of work, and if they were included from the begining, the price would have been higher to include them.

    I just need a break, can't wait for the show in two weeks!

    Barry

  7. #7
    Allan Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Barry:

    It’s just the age-old struggle between builders and buyers as to what is included in a job. A completed, detailed, set of plans and spec’s will go a long way in spelling out a builders responsibility, but even then things do always arise that buyers expect the builder to include. It is usually good to spell out what is not included in a contract as well as what is included. Over the years I have developed a checklist of hot items that come up over and over, and I try to make the buyer aware up front, but even so buyers will always try to get extra things included. I actually try to give my buyers a few extra items, thrown in as good will. I feel your pain.

    Allan

  8. #8
    Brad Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Barry
    I too feel your pain and have given plenty to cover architect's mistakes over the years. Allan is right that you need a checklist of "hot" items that seem to get neglected over and over. I also exclude landscape, finish grading, etc, from my contract whether its on the prints or not and specifically include or exclude steps, stoops and the like for each exterior, because the architect rarely gets them right on the the drawingsk, and sometimes you just don't know what the final grade will bring. I point out what exactly is included/excluded to the Owner prior at contract signing. You are correct that your price would have been higher if they were included and hopefully you can make the Owner understand that without ruining your relationship with the Architect who could bring you more work.

  9. #9
    Taylor Richardson Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    This is my first post here, so I hope everyone takes it easy on me. I worked as a super for 5 years for a company before getting my GC license here in California. One of the jobs I oversaw was a remodel and restoration of a Victorian home. The architect drew the plans for a very fancy porch with turned columns, brackets, and lots of gingerbread. The overall design was to follow the original home so the new addition wouldn't look new. I built per plan, but, in the end, was wrong. The architect's E&O insurance paid out $25,000 to rebuild the porch. What covered us was the clause in our contract "build to plan specifications." We did not change anything from the original plan. What also saved us was my boss and the homeowners had sat down at the contract signing and had signed each page of the plans, so both parties knew what was being included and excluded. This incident was ugly, as you can imagine, but it didn't cost us, the builder. It made such a huge impact on me, that my contracts all have the same clause of "build to plan specs," and the homeowners and I sign the plans also. It has saved me on small items, for which I am grateful.

  10. #10
    Joe Carola Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Taylor,

    I'm a framing contractor and I've been contemplating starting to GC jobs.

    What I have seen and it just happened from working along side these GC's is that there was a problem like you described and the homeowner was screaming at the architect and the GC.

    The GC said, "I built your job as per plans".

    She said to him this is a Million dollar addition, I hired you because you were qualified to do this job and you couldn't tell that there were problems with this job and your excuse to me is I built as per plans.

    So what your telling me is that your not qualified enough to handle this job, an experienced contractor would have picked up on this befor hand and I trusted you on my house. What else is wrong are you going to blame the architect knowing that what you were doing was wrong because it was on the plans.

    She also said if you were experienced enough you should have went to the architect on your own and worked it out first or during the job not when it's almost done.

    Well like you said if your contract stated built as per plans, you did. I guess the homeowners trust in the GC is no longer there.

  11. #11
    Taylor Richardson Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    What you are describing is another problem that I have run into and I'm dealing with right now. I am building a sound proof room for a professional musician that is pentagon shaped. The roof design includes a steel ridge with 5 hips made from glulams and a vaulted ceiling. The problems started from the beginning. The designer - not a licensed architect- drew the plans 5 feet over property lines and submitted it for permit that way. When I started laying out the project, I found the error. We then had to have the room redesigned, which took 3 weeks. Next layout works, but we had to change the roof line somewhat to keep the pitch to match the house. Then the fireplace/window layout didn't work. Then, when we built the roof and took out the supports holding the ridge up, the whole roof sagged 2 inches. By this time, I have documented 52 hours of consulting with the designer and engineer. I did layout per plan, I built per plan. So whose problem is it? Should I have caught errors by the designer? Glaring ones, yes. But when the plans have gone through plan check and engineering, I should not have to be the one to fix a design issue, such as the roof. This is why I have the homeowners sign the plans as to their acceptance of them. My contract states we are building per plan. I am a contractor, not a mechanical engineer. I don't do the math for live loads on the upper story of your addition. The architect/engineer you, the homeowner, hired said it would work, but it dosen't. Now the real fighting has started, with one issue of who is going to pay me for my 52+ hours. I have been fortunate in this instance that the homeowners understand my position, that I am the mechanic for this project. They have come to the realization that, while on paper the design looked good, in the real world it is flawed. But I still haven't got paid for my time. So what to do? I don't know, I'm still working on it. I'm still learning alot every day, as I have only had my license a year and a half, and being 30 years old, sometimes, potential clients question my abilities/skills because they think all contractors should be 50+ years old and be covered in sawdust. But out of 15 jobs, I've only had 1 that I took a beating on, so I'm pretty happy with that. The best thing I can suggest is make sure the owners understand you are the builder, not the architect/engineer. If you, the builder, are using owner supplied plans, make sure the homeowners realize you can't read the designer's mind, and all you can do is build from the blueprints, nothing more, nothing less. And sometimes, a little luck helps too.

  12. #12
    Sonny Lykos Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Fortunately for me, I only had one problem and it was like the one Taylor just posted. When I started noticing the errors, I made an appointment with the owner and said: “You hired three separate “professionals”, each of us operating within our professional expertise, and reason for being hired. I am not a designer, nor am I and engineer, nor an architect. I am not licensed in anything other than what I do. In effect, I ‘assemble’ what other ‘professionals’ design and build on paper. Please do not expect me to assume responsibility for the work of others that you have employed and paid. I would not expect you to assume the responsibility for what a plumber or electrician does. They are operate under the supervision and responsibility of me, not you. And even then, they only do what the other ‘professionals’ you hired designed and built on paper.”

    It’s been a few years but the conversation was pretty close to that. It ended the yelling directed toward me and I never heard another word about that particular problem or a couple of additional problems that came up - that were not under my area of “responsibility.”

    After that I changed the contract I used to use and spell out the responsibility of each “profession” for future clients, and made a point of discussing that during the contract signing. It really covered the “what ifs” that always occur in large projects and the question of to whom does the responsibility go to. Clients often look for a scapegoat when angry and since they see us more often than their designer or architect, we get the brunt of their anger. Learn from it, “clause” it in you contract, and talk about it with future clients. Make a point of it. We have to make that “professional” separation between ourselves and the others to each client.

  13. #13
    Joe Carola Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Sonny,

    As a framing contractor thinking about getting into the GC end of it. When a GC gives me a set of plans I see alot of times on plans such as roof lines not working out, stairwells not going to work, hip or valley going through the bedroom wall, roof or beam load stting on nothing,etc.

    I'll tell the GC befor I even price the job or I'll call the Architect up to see what we can do about it.

    Some GC's will say let's sell the job first and worry about it later because for the architect to change the plans now will never get the bid out.

    Do you personnally think that makes sence?

  14. #14
    Joe Carola Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Sonny,

    I tell the GC this ahead of time because I want to protect him from future problems. If I were to bid a job for you I would do the same.

    I bid a job one time for a friend also a GC and I told him that the new addition rafters were going to make for a clipped ceiling in the master bedroom because the new rafters were 2x10's and the old were 2x6's.

    It wasn't shown that way on the plans but I new that's how it was going to be because I've cut so many roofs. I said to him will this cause a problem for you, he said no.

    Needless to say it came back to haunt him because he was supposed to put some big fancy crown in the new master bedroom that the homeowener kept talking about how she couldn't wait to see. Now has a 12" clipped ceiling in it.

    She had asked him couldn't you tell that this was going to happen.

    Your right where not Architects /Engineers but regardless It seems to me just by what I've seen from the framing end of it one screw up if not caught ahead of time can cause alot of problems down the road.

    It also seems that to me that the homeowner still thinks the GC even though he's not an Acr/Engineer should have a little more knowledge.

    Do you think I'm making any sence befor I jump into GCING any jobs?

  15. #15
    Allan Guest

    Default Re: Architect mistakes- who pays?

    Taylor and Sonny seem to favor putting responsibility of the architectural plans and their accuracy solely on the architect-I mean it’s common sense that he/she designs the structure, it is not the builders responsibility to critique, question, guarantee, or be responsible for their work. Would the architect be responsible for what the builder did?

    They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. You build house #1 in your career, a few architectural mistakes, you deal with them. Same for house #2. Same for house #3. And so on, and so on. Same for house # 50, #100, #150, #200. After a while you come to the conclusion that their must be no 100% sure fire method of drawing plans without some mistakes. If you build 200 new homes as I have, and every one has had some kind of mistakes/detail that just didn’t work out, why would I expect house # 201 to be different?

    I have a clause in my contract that basically puts this responsibility on the architect or owner. But I never enforce it. I cover the architect when he makes mistakes, I cover the owner who is going to make some changes they don’t want to pay for, I cover a few subs who repeatedly underbid their jobs and ask for 10% more, I cover the inspectors who make stupid decisions about building codes, I cover for the vendors who screw up orders. In the end, the builder pays for everything. That’s my experience. However, because of this I have architects who repeatedly send me high quality profitable jobs, I have clients lined up for me to build their homes, subs want to do my work, inspectors like me because I don’t give them any lip, vendors give me good prices and favors when I need them.

    I make sure the house is build able per the plans, if I see something that does not work I bring it to the architects attention. I have found about 75% of these type of mistakes are in the framing, and my framer catches a lot of these mistakes and corrects them. I believe it is the builder’s job to be a problem solver and eliminate or greatly reduce ALL problems.

    Allan

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