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When architects make mistakes: What to watch for

Architects play a foundational role in construction projects. They create both the big-picture vision as well as the all-important details of the finished structure. Considering their work combines aesthetics, math and science, it's no wonder architects undergo such intensive training and education.

Yet that doesn't mean they never make mistakes. Architectural errors can not only be costly, but also dangerous. They can jeopardize the success of the entire project.

So what kind of mistakes should you be on the lookout for?

Problems with the design itself

In some cases, hang-ups arise due to shortcomings with the architectural plans. Perhaps it turns out that critical parts of the design are structurally unsound. Or maybe the plans fail to comply with current housing or fire codes.

Depending on when these errors come to light, they could derail the project - or at least drive up the costs. Multiple change orders may be necessary if construction has already begun. Delays may push out the project's completion by weeks or months.

Problems with supervising the progress of the project

Historically, architects functioned as "master builders." They not only drafted the plans for the structure, but also played an in-depth role in supervising the entire construction.

Today, that's no longer the case. Architects have a much more narrowly defined role, and they rarely manage day-to-day aspects of construction.

However, depending on the terms of their contract, some may still have a limited responsibility to periodically observe and inspect the project's progress. In these situations, architects could be liable if they don't fulfill those duties - for example, by neglecting to monitor the project or failing to report problems.

Suspicious of malpractice?

If you think an architectural error may have impacted your project, it's important to speak with an attorney who understands construction law. You may have a strong claim for compensation.

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