One of the unfortunate realities of the construction process is the prevalence of claims and disputes among owners, design professional, contractors and subcontractors. To aid in the understanding of the fundamentals of claims against construction professionals and contractors, and helping to achieve a favorable outcome if litigation becomes necessary, we offer a two-part primer on construction litigation for owners. This first part deals with claims against architects and engineers (collectively, “A/E”). The second part, to be published this September, will deal with contractors.

A typical claim of an owner against an A/E involves an error or omission in the design of an element of the project. In the case of an architect, the error may involve the faulty design of the roof or façade of the building. In the case of a mechanical engineer, the error may involve the defective design of the building’s HVAC system. In both instances, once the error is identified and remedial steps are taken, the owner will face additional cost in the form of a change order from its contractor and the general delay and disruption of the project. It is usually at that point that the owner asks the questions: How did this happen? Who is responsible? What recourse do I have?

The Theory of A/E Liability