Yes? Never? Maybe? Contract Clauses for Architects & Engineers (Tue Tip)

Make plans to attend a free webinar specifically for design professionals.  Entitled “The Bright Gray Line: “Yes”, “Never”, and “Maybe” Contract Clauses for Design Professionals (and how to find the difference)”.

The presentation will highlight challenging contract clauses and approachs to evaluating, negotiating, and managing those clauses.  Among the clauses which will be discussed are those relating to indemnity, the standard of care, code compliance, and document ownership.

The seminar is sponsored by Hall & Company and  presented by attorney David Ericksen, President of Severson & Werson.

When:                  Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time:                   1:00 pm EDT

How:                    Click here to register

If you attend the webinar, let you know your thoughts afterwords.  I’m planning to attend as well, so we can compare notes.

The Architect Has No Clothes! (or, why subconsultant contracts matter)

Caesar statute

Everyone is probably familiar with the story the Emperor’s New Clothes.  There, the Emperor is not wearing anything but his birthday suit, and yet everyone is afraid to tell him so.  Today’s lesson is how to avoid being the clothesless fool by making sure you are covered with appropriate contracts with your subconsultants.

Previously we have talked about the need for a written contract on your construction projects.  Usually, the focus is on the contract agreement with the Project Owner.  Just as important, however, is the contract with your subconsultant.

A recent case brought to the attention of the E&O carrier Victor O. Schinnerer demonstrates what can happen when you have a signed contract with the Project Owner, but your subconsultant contract is not yet formalized.

The architect’s subconsultant agreement had been revised by the subconsultant to include the following language: 

Subconsultant’s maximum aggregate liability under this Agreement shall not exceed $250,000.

Having been warned of the dangers of limiting the liability of a subconsultant without having a corresponding limitation in the prime agreement, the architect attempted to further negotiate with the subconsultant. The subconsultant agreed to increase their liability to $500,000 but said “I am told by our legal counsel that based on the work we are doing and the amount of our fee, $500,000 is our limit.  

Work on the project had already started, but the subconsultant was withholding their design documents until they received a signed contract.  At that point, the architect turned to his E&O carrier for advice.

His options were limited at that point, and the architect was left with weighing the risk of a claim in excess of $500,000 versus the risk of a delay claim from the Project Owner if he took time to seek out a new subconsultant.  Essentially, the architect had no clothes.

Keep this lesson in mind the next time you are negotiating with subconsultants about a planned project.  You should ensure that their contract has the same obligations that you have in your contract with the Owner.

Have you experienced a situation where you were contracted to perform, but your subconsultant refused to sign a contract with similar terms? How did you handle it?Drop me a line in the comment section.

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Photo: (c) Mary Harrsch via Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Lien Law Unlikely To Change– Yet

detour signFor those of you following the proposed revisions to the NC lien law that is currently at the NC House Judiciary Subcommittee B, a quick update:  the proposed bill (HB 489) is unlikely to be voted on this legislative session due to its unpopularity with several constituency groups, including both the AIA-North Carolina and the NC Home Builders Association.

According to NC Bar Association Construction Law section chair, Nan Hannah, a vote is unlikely in this legislative session.  However, there is the potential for a study commission to continue the conversation and discuss alternative lien law changes that might satisfy all constituents.

Such a study commission will only occur is Subcommittee Chairman Paul Stam hears from those in the industry that such a study commission is desired.  In addition to the Construction Section of the Bar, the American Subcontractors Association of the Carolinas supports the idea, as do other industry groups.

If you want to add your voice of support for a study commission, contact Representative Stam  or Co-chairman Representative Grier Martin.

Do you believe that the proposed lien law revisions adequately protect designers? Is a study commission worthwhile?  Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.

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Photo: (c) freefoto.com via Creative Commons License.

New Sustainability Rating System Set to Launch

Design sustainability ISI logo

Are you aware of the new sustainability system being developed for infrastructure?

The non-profit Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is developing an infrastructure ranking tool called envISIon.   The new  ISI rating system will be founded on the “triple bottom line” concept of sustainability, which includes environmental, economic and social considerations.  It will include an option for third-party verification, and will be applicable to a wide range of infrastructure projects, from roads and bridges to energy and water systems.

As of earlier this week, Version 1.0 of the sustainable infrastructure ranking tool has been accepted by the ISI Board and, after  a sixty day technical review, will be placed on the ISI website for public comment starting in July 2011.

Following the public comment period, which will last as long as six months, envISIon will be made available as a commercial product. In the meantime, ISI and its Founding Organizations, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), will be focusing on identifying and certifying assessors.   

By the end of 2012, projects assessed as “sustainable” will be eligible for public recognition by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

Are you interested in the new sustainability system? If so, check back with ISI in July to obtain your copy of Version 1.0 to review.  If you would like to share your comments with blog readers here, just give me a shout out.

Free AIA & USGBC Credits at Upcoming Webinar

This just crossed my desk:

A free 1 hour webinar “Sustainable Schools:  Design, Construction & Operations” will be held by ED&C magazine on Thursday, May 26th, 2011  at 3pm EDT.

school children crossing sign

How One School District Changed Behaviors and Buildings to Achieve the Nation’s First Net Zero School

Warren County Public Schools in Bowling Green, KY is the home of the nation’s first Net Zero school building. The district, that grows by about 400 students annually, has built six new schools since 2006. Each building has served as an energy efficiency milestone as officials have honed designs to achieve a 77,000-square foot building that operates at 18 kBTUs per square foot. The limited energy consumption coupled with the revenue from solar panel production allows the elementary school to operate without cost. The district designed the building to be a hands-on energy museum for the students to continue learning about energy.   The Net Zero School milestone is just one of many accomplishments of WCPS that has also offset $6 million in energy costs since 2003 by changing behaviors and mindsets.

  • Examine how the Warren County Public Schools district changed mindsets and offset $6 million in energy costs in less than eight years
  • Evaluate how the school district honed its building designs to achieve a school capable of producing as much energy as it consumes to achieve the nation’s first Net Zero school building
  • Analyze how the district is taking what is has learned and passing it on to its students through children’s Energy Team initiatives and challenges
  • Define the new methods the district had enacted to enhance its massive energy-savings initiatives, buildings and programs

Go here to register.

The program qualifies (with certain requirements) for:

  • 1 GBCI CE Hours towards the LEED Credential Maintenance Program; and
  • 1.0 AIA learning units

More about the Net Zero school can be found in this post on the Biofriendly Blog

Photo: (c) freephoto.com via Creative Commons license.

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