Part of the Board’s mandate to protect the public health, safety, and welfare (HSW) requires that we assist consumers who are having difficulties with their projects. The written contract requirement helps ensure that consumers and their architect are clear on the terms of the business relationship and components of the project. As the project emerges, difficulties can arise when the contractor is building pursuant to the architect’s plans.
The professional service of "construction observation" can be an invaluable means to ensuring that construction is consistent with the plans. Often however, when clients feel they must economize, they elect to eliminate some services from the contract, including construction observation. This is unfortunate because it can greatly impact the quality of construction and compliance with the specifications in the plans. Lack of construction observation can also lead to problems that threaten the public HSW.
The increase in instances of construction defect litigation suggests that such a proposal like the one the Board advanced in 2002, which would have required construction observation, should be considered again. The American Institute of Architects (AIACC) 2016 legislative agenda includes a proposal limited to features of the project that impact accessibility.
While the AIACC proposal has merit, perhaps it could be enhanced with a provision to encourage a broader involvement of the architect of record in the construction administration phase of projects to ensure compliance with the approved plans and therefore increased protection of consumers. However, as accessibility litigation has been particularly widespread and frequent, AIACC’s proposal has focused on accessibility features of projects. In addition, the civil rights nature of accessibility underscores the need for reforms to the current process. While the legislation is still being developed, perhaps it is time to promote measures such as AIACC’s proposal in an effort to help ensure that clients are receiving the project and quality they desire.