Last edited 25 Oct 2014

Responsibility for building design

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[edit] Design duties in law

[edit] Standard of liability

[edit] Duration of liability

  • The architect remains under a continuing responsibility beyond the signing of the contract to see that the design will work.
  • This obligation probably lasts through to the issue of the final certificate.

[edit] Techniques and materials


[edit] Compliance with statutory requirements

  • A designer impliedly undertakes only to use professional skill and reasonable care and does not warrant that the design will not contravene any relevant legal principle, however:
  • Where traditional contracts are used, responsibility for a building which contravenes the law will usually fall upon the designer rather than the builder.
  • JCT 98 Clause 6.1.1: the contractor is generally responsible for ensuring that all statutory rules are complied with, but
  • JCT 98 Clause 6.1.5: a contractor who has merely worked in accordance with the contract drawings or bills is protected from that liability.
  • This is subject to the proviso that upon discovering any discrepancy between these documents and the legal requirements, the contractor immediately notifies the contract administrator.
  • JCT CD 98 Clause 6: gives no such protection – the contractor must bear any cost involved in making the work comply with the law, even when the employer’s requirements are at fault.

[edit] Legal responsibility for design

[edit] Architect

  • The overall responsibility for the design of the project will usually be borne by the architect if there is one.
  • An architect who lacks the ability or expertise to carry out part of a design job has three choices:
  1. To refuse the commission altogether.
  2. To persuade the employer to employ a specialist for that part of the work.
  3. To employ and pay for a specialist personally, knowing that any liability for defective design can then be passed along the chain of contracts.
  • The complexity of construction technology has meant that the employer frequently gives the architect the authority to delegate specified parts of the design and it may even be implied from the circumstances of the case.
  • In recommending the appointment of a particular specialist, architects owe their clients the usual duty to use reasonable skill and care.
  • They will not automatically be responsible for the defaults of the people they recommend but if their recommendations are negligent they may become liable for their clients’ losses.
  • When appointing a specialist, the architect’s responsibility will normally be confined to directing and co-ordinating the expert’s work.
  • However, if a problem arises the architect is not entitled to rely blindly on the expert on matters which should have been apparent to him, but must warn the client.

[edit] Contractor

  1. The decision about the required performance.
  2. The way in which the performance will be achieved.

[edit] Sub-contractor