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Brett M. Wilbur CSI, CCS, AIA
Senior Member
Username: brett

Post Number: 186
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 09:32 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

This question is not specifically about specifications; however, it is about the legal aspects of shop drawing review, specifically about consultant engineer review, which I tend to think falls under the watchful third eye of the specifier for the most part. Iíve searched through Google for some legal case studies or articles but have found very few, so thought I would share here to get some real experience from the front lines. Here it is in 2 parts:

1. What liability does the Architect have or take on if he were to mark up engineering submittals and return to the contractor without forwarding to his consulting engineer? Say it is for a light fixture and the schedule was tight and there wasnít time to forward for a proper review. Say the Architect erroneously approved the wrong ballast or the wrong voltage assuming that the subcontractor/contractor knew what they were doing.

2. What if the Architect had sent it to the engineer who reviewed and stamped it approved or rejected, but then the Architect made changes to the engineerís comments without telling the engineer? Say he overruled the engineer and approved a submittal that the engineer rejected.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1100
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 09:51 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I think the architect is wrong in both cases, and will come by unnecessary liability exposure.

Schedules have taken on a life of their own and everyone has come to both fear them and bend over backwards to meet them. BUT in the end, doing our work correctly should still be our primary issue-- and that may need to be explained to the contractor and your client [to whom the contractor will complain].

Sounds Pollyannish, but no project is worth your reputation, putting yourself in jeopardy by assuming unnecessary liability or bending to unreasonable expectations.
Russ Hinkle, AIA, CDT, LEED AP
Senior Member
Username: rhinkle

Post Number: 69
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 10:17 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ralph, I grew up with a mother who was always Pollyannish. Life is so much better when you approach it that way.

Just my take, but the older I get the more I agree with your take on schedules. With age comes wisdom.
Russ Hinkle
Robert W. Johnson
Senior Member
Username: robert_w_johnson

Post Number: 43
Registered: 03-2009
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 10:33 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post


I think the answers to your questions are pretty simple - the Architect is responsible for his or her actions. If the Architect overrules or ignores the Engineer in the review of submittals related to the Engineer's design responsibility, than the Architect assumes the liability that might result from those actions and the Engineer is relieved of any liability for the Architect's actions. Scheduling concerns will not offset that - the judge or mediator will not shed any tears for you.
Mark Gilligan SE, CSI
Senior Member
Username: mark_gilligan

Post Number: 237
Registered: 10-2007
Posted on Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 05:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

The architect that does not consults with his consultants accepts the liability and cannot pass the consequences along to the consultant.

I think you need to differentiate between active actions where one marks up the submittial as opposed to those situations where you did not catch a mistake. I believe that most general conditions take the position that the contractor is still responsible for mistakes that were not caught.

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