Clients, when appointing a designer, whether Architect, Engineering Consultant, or a Contractor ( Design and Built Contract), expect the building to operate when complete in the manner envisaged when appointment was made.
If the building fails to meet the client’s expectations, there are often questions asked of the designer and/or contractor as to whether the problem resulted from a failure on their part to meet their contractual obligations. these obligations will normally take the form of implied or express terms in the conditions of appointment or the terms of the contract under which the work was carried out.
Architect / Engineer Drawings Approval
In general terms when an employer appoints an Architect or engineer to design a building or work of a civil engineering nature, he is entitled to expect the Architect or engineer to be responsible for all design works.
The approval of a contractor’s or subcontractor’s drawings by the Architect or engineer, will not usually relieve the contractor or subcontractor from liability. Employers who incur costs due to this type of error will normally commence an action against both the contractor/ subcontractor who prepared the drawings and the Architect/ Engineer who gave his approval.
The Architect/ Engineer will normally be responsible for design coordination, except where the contractor is appointed on a design and build basis. It is possible for an Architect to disclaim the responsibility for design coordination in his conditions of engagement with the employer and place the burden upon the contractor’s shoulders. For main a contractor to take on a responsibility for design coordination will require a fully descriptive clause in the main contract conditions of contract.
Design Error .
It is commonplace for a contractor to have placed upon him by the terms of contract, a full design responsibility. Some contracts provide for parts only of the work to be designed by the contractor. If under the contract the employer appoints an Architect, whose duty it is to prepare all the drawings, with no reference being made to a contractor’s design responsibility, can a situation ever arise where the contractor finds himself liable for a design fault?
Human errors occur on a regular basis, including design errors by Architects and engineers. Contractors may from time to time suspect that a design error has occurred. Contractor may draw the architect/ engineer attention to the design error by submitting a Request For Clarification to the engineer, and request more design information. The Contractor’s duty to warn the architect of defects which they believe existed in the architect’s design.