Architects are a vital part of the construction ecosystem, and a skilled worker on which we rely much more than we might think. Even the most benign of personal property renovations or refurbishments can involve the expert eyes and hands of an architect to properly achieve – for numerous reasons, too.
But, well-trained as architects are in everything from aesthetics to materials and regulations, there are those that do not quite meet the mark. These architects can have serious consequences for the viability of your project and even for your personal safety, though the possibility of this might not be noticeable at first glance. Architectural errors are a grave issue, and one that must be dealt with accordingly. How, though?
Architectural negligence is a form of professional negligence, wherein an architect fails in their duty to a customer or client – with costly or damaging consequences. There are numerous ways in which this kind of negligence can present. Most commonly, this would be encountered by smaller private clients in domestic properties, where an architect has altered plans to the detriment construction of the finished product (effectively failing to provide the service sold).
On a larger scale, changes to architectural designs that weren’t approved or otherwise signed off by clients or supervisors could lead to significant roadblocks in the construction of a major building or installation – costing the clients heavily in order to rectify. In worst-case scenarios, failure to design something properly or safely could endanger lives.
The potential impacts of architectural negligence are manifold, as touched upon just now. In most cases, such negligent behaviour presents as a failure to follow instructions laid out by the client – leading to designs that do not match the brief, or that alter the brief and finished product without any form of approval or oversight.
There are other ways, though, in which architects can fail in their duty. For example, a design of theirs might fail to adhere to specific building or safety regulations – a fact that would escape most private clients. These failures could bring much more serious impacts, that go to the health and safety of the building’s users or occupants.
So, what can be done to address architectural negligence where it has occurred? Usually, architectural negligence is discovered after some or all of the damage has been done, so to speak. As a project nears completion, the specific failure of duty becomes more apparent. As does the cost required to undo said failure.
Unless the architect or their parent company offers equitably to make it right. The only real recourse for a private client is through the civil courts via a specialist solicitor. A letter before action can be enough to inspire mediation and settlement, but formal court proceedings may be necessary to recoup costs.