Lawsuit against Engineers and Architects.
In Texas, a person filing a lawsuit related to a construction project for damages arising out of the services by licensed design professionals like architects or engineers must follow strict statutory guidelines. For example, the plaintiff in a case must file an affidavit by a competent expert along with the petition for the lawsuit that supports the claims against the professionals. Without the expert affidavit, the lawsuit can be dismissed by the judge.
Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 150.002 states that the expert must hold the same license or registration as the defendant professional and set forth the information required by the statute. These types of lawsuits are typical in construction defect lawsuits.
A construction defect is generally defined as a “defect in the design, the workmanship, and/or in the materials or systems used on a project that results in a failure of a component part of a building or structure and causes damage to person or property, usually resulting in financial harm to the owner.” When there is a construction defect, the property owner will often look to the engineer, architect and general contractor to determine potential liability.
In many cases, it is the general contractor that did not following the engineer’s plans. And on other occasions, the plans have had errors that the general contractors followed. Construction defects can be classified as being either a patent or latent. Patent defects are those that are known or readily obvious upon inspection. They are the ones that a construction professional should find during routine inspections. Conversely, latent defects are those that are concealed or otherwise not as obvious. Latent defects possibly will not be found even by someone who does a thorough inspection.
Patent defects are obvious which oftentimes that means there is an easy fix. These defects are often cosmetic and surface so accessing and repairing the issue is typically not that intensive. On the other hand, since latent defects are not obvious, usually under the surface of and inside the systems of the property, resulting in more in-depth problems.
These defects result from a project design professional’s failure to produce accurate and well-organized construction plans. The defects occur by omission or error in the design plans. Omission can be corrected by adding to or modifying a contractor’s scope of work through change orders. Errors, on the other hand, usually require some sort of redesign and replacement or overhaul of a design component.
Designers may also omit some detailing during the design process, such as window details, flooring or doorway details, while waiting on other details and intend to include missing information later This can cause an issue if they do not return to complete the drawings before being released to another team for their design input.
Many design plans use drawings that are prepared by different teams working separately from one each other. Common mistakes can be made when producing and interpreting drawings or design renderings. Incomplete drawings can also lead to design defects and delays from clarification and change order requests. These can be costly.
Drawings may not be coordinated, in particular if they are prepared by different teams. To try and prevent this problem, the design team should communicate with each other and regularly review all recent working drawings to ensure that they coordinate accurately.
Engineers and design professionals may encounter inconsistencies between the drawn and written information on the plan, such as schedules or specifications. For the benefit of the architect or an engineer: just because it looks like a design defect, does not mean that it is. The alleged defect may be performing as intended.
Some design details that can lead to defects
- Notes that are not understood.
- Doors opening the wrong way or with insufficient opening space (i.e. opening into other doors, cabinets, windows, etc.).
- Undersized, impractical or awkward spaces.
- Changes in structural elements
- Poorly detailed junctions between different components or systems.
- Incorrect symbols or lack of symbols
- Poor plan reproduction.
- Missing components.
- Inconsistent information.
- Illegible writing.
- The use of acronyms that are not understood.
- Incorrect or inconsistent scales being used across drawings.
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In lawsuits against Architects and Engineers, hire an attorney experienced in construction law matters. We have the experience to help Architects and Engineers in the most challenging cases. Our clients also appreciate the fact that we are loyal to their businesses and honest in our communication at all times.
From San Antonio to Houston, one Texas law firm wants to help. You can reach a board certified attorney at The Weaver Law Firm by calling 713-572-4900.
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