When a problem emerges during or after a construction project in Missouri, the owner, contractor and architect often point fingers at each other when liability needs to be determined. Architects include language in their contracts meant to protect them from liability in the event of construction problems. However, courts tend to scrutinize these terms, and they do not necessarily let architects avoid responsibility.
Typical contracts seek to protect architects from the failure of contractors to follow architectural specifications and other proper building methods and procedures. However, some agreements specify that an architect will regularly inspect construction activities. Some contracts even include an obligation that an architect should alert an owner to construction problems. When this provision is present, an architect has a much higher chance of being held at least partially accountable for building defects, especially if the errors would have been easy to spot during an inspection.
The supreme court in Alabama addressed this situation and ruled that the architect bore responsibility for failing to notice and report problems. Any potentially negligent acts on the part of the contractor, however, were not seen as the architect’s full responsibility.
A person who owns a building troubled by construction defects might want the support of an attorney. A legal review of the applicable contracts could provide insights about the extent of the architect’s or contractor’s accountability. An attorney could organize documentation and write interpretations of the contract terms that cite applicable laws. The process of litigating the matter could involve an attorney approaching the responsible parties and attempting to negotiate a financial settlement prior to going to court. Should that effort not succeed, an attorney could present the case in court and communicate the failings of contracted parties and the resulting cost to the client.