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Who's Liable

Discussion in 'Architects & Engineers' started by Francis Vineyard, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

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    Typically with international corporations, but more often with out of state designers submit drawings for hotels, apartment complex and restaurants that are required to be sealed by a Virginia Registered Design Professional, how does that agreement work?
    For example when I contacted the RDP that stamped the drawings, I'm referred to the designer in another state working with a different firm.
     
  2. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    I imagine it depends on your State laws....I think here it reads something like "prepared under my supervision".....Depends on what you mean by liable. Everyone gets sued, including you...
     
  3. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    Yes, Everyone gets sued, BUT the RDP that stamped the drawings, is ultimately the responsible party. He/She is stamping the drawings and taking on that responsibility/liability. Between the parties it is a contractual/civil matter.

    Disclaimer:
    I am not a lawyer, do not play one on TV or anywhere else. Contact the state licensing board, I have on this matter, in CA.
     
  4. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    Until the RDP puts ridiculous notes on the plans like: Contractor responsible for following local codes......Drawings are diagrammatic, follow local codes.....XXXXXX per local codes.....And so on....
     
  5. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

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    I understand every state has different regulations concerning individual license and between the company. To further clarify can you give me an example of an agreement or contract that would be advertised between states?

    It may be none of my business but it's seems weird for an RDP (revealed it's not in his contract) to refer another person who is not licensed in Virginia.
     
  6. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    Large corporations, typically have a corporate design firm that will keep the branding image of the cooperation. A hotel or restarant will want its own Architect or Designer to design all their branded locations. it is a prototypical layout and look.
    The corporate designer may not be licensed in a particular state so they will contract with a local to sign the drawings.
    Restarant Prototype
    https://tonyromasfranchise.com/research/tour-new-revolutionary-prototype-design/
    Hotel Prototype
    http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/286120/Hilton-reveals-new-Hampton-Inn-prototype
     
    #6 mark handler, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  7. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

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    Mark, is this usually done with advertising?
     
  8. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    NO. Preselected.
     
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  9. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

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    One major issue is design costs are minimal if you use the same plans again and again making minor tweaks for local laws and site plan variations. You are not creating the same wheel again and again.
    Most of the Plans, details, sections, Elevations structural are the the same.
     
  10. RLGA

    RLGA Sawhorse

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    This situation is not unusual—in fact, it is quite common. Architectural firms may team up to pool their skills to go after a project. Many times this is done because one of the firms has experience in a project type that the other firm does not have. Some firms, especially large firms, will probably have someone registered in the state where the project is located, but decide to work with a local firm.

    The arrangement between these firms can be formalized through a contract, in a MOU for a less formal agreement, or just a handshake. Usually only one firm will have the actual contract with the owner of the project. Sometimes firms will create a joint-venture, which creates a legal entity that binds the firms together. This entity can then enter into contracts under the joint-venture name.

    As to liability, the design professionals that seal the documents (usually there is one RDP sealing the documents for each discipline) have ultimate liability, but when a lawsuit is involved, the plaintiffs will go after anyone that can be tied to that project. The professional liability insurers and the firms’ respective attorneys will advise the design firms involved, especially if they enter into a joint-venture.
     
    #10 RLGA, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  11. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

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    Ron, your response could explain the different backgrounds and disciplines when we had three large apartment complexes designed by the same firm but stamped by different local companies.
    But what was puzzling their company representative would practically ask the same questions for each project as though their "teams" didn't consult with one another.
     
  12. RLGA

    RLGA Sawhorse

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    That may be due to handling each project as a separate project for documentation purposes; thus, each of the three firms that will be the architect-of-record for their respective project will have documentation on decisions specifically addressed to their project. Thus, the firm for Project #2 cannot say in court, "Well, we relied on the response to the question for Project #1, so we assumed it applied to our project, too."
     
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  13. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    There are two types of liability that are interrelated. With respect to contractual liability all that matters is which states laws will be applied. This can result in the law from State B being applicable even though the project is not in state B.

    Professional liability is governed by the laws of the state where the project is located. The professional could be located in any state or country. In cases where the licensing laws require the firm meet certain state imposed requirements they may create a separate state specific entity to satisfy those requirements.

    Will suggest that in most if not all states the building official has no responsibility for sorting out who is liable.
     
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  14. Msradell

    Msradell Sawhorse

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    I've been involved in situations like this several times and know better what the RDP puts on the drawings everything still falls back to him if something doesn't meet code or doesn't work correctly.
     
  15. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Sawhorse

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    Thank you all for the replies. This information of what happens behind the scenes gives me a better understanding and respect for local RDP that wisely subcontract and in dealing with those who fly around the country sometimes on a weekly basis.
     
  16. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

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    Ultimately it comes down to how much risk do you want to accept vs the renumeration received.
     
  17. RLGA

    RLGA Sawhorse

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    You can't assign risk based on fee. Pro bono projects sealed by registered architects carry as much liability as any other project sealed by an architect.
     
  18. RickAstoria

    RickAstoria -------------------

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    Ultimately, you can define the scope of work and services which can in various degree impact risk exposure.
     
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