The construction market
is rapidly moving towards design-build as the contract method of choice.
The advantages are obvious to everyone, but you as the contractor
assume significant additional liability. Even if you subcontract the
design work to a reputable, fully insured architect, your risks are many:
- You have no coverage
unless the design error resulted in bodily injury or property damage.
If the building simply did not meet the specifications, life safety
codes, fire codes, or if there was any other problem that did not result
in physical injury or damage, your only protection is the architect's
- Architects generally
carry very low insurance limits, if any, and they are often restrictive
- Architects' policies
are "claims made," meaning coverage must be in effect at the time the claim
is made. Most professional liability claims are filed 3 - 7 years after
the job is complete. What protection do you have if the architect discontinues
his insurance or discontinues his business? What are the chances of
having legitimate protection if a claim is first filed 9 or 10 years
after completion of the project?
- The owner has a
contract with you and demands immediate corrections. Litigation with
an architect, even if successful, could take several years.