The First Appellate District affirmed a judgment. In the published portion of its opinion, the court held that to the extent defendants’ construction professionals were aware of a building’s structural defects, that knowledge could not be imputed to the building’s owners.
RSB Vineyards, LLC purchased a vineyard owned by Bernard Orsi and others, including a residence that defendants had renovated and converted into a wine tasting room. RSB later learned that the renovated residence was structurally unsound for commercial use and was forced to demolish it. RSB sued defendants for breach of warranty, arguing they failed to disclose the building’s substantial defects. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing they had no knowledge of the defects. RSB opposed, contending that even if defendants were unaware of the deficiencies, those deficiencies were so severe that defendants’ construction professionals should have been aware of them, and this knowledge could be imputed to defendants.
The trial court granted summary judgment.
The court of appeal affirmed, holding that the construction professionals’ knowledge of any defects could not be imputed to defendants absent a showing that they were acting as defendants’ agents. There was no such showing. An architect or other construction professional acts as the property owner’s agent only when he or she is functioning in a supervisory capacity with respect to the work being done. When preparing plans or drafting specifications, however, the construction professional acts as an independent contractor, and the knowledge he or she acquires in that capacity cannot be imputed to the homeowner. Here, to the extent defendants’ construction professionals was aware of the defects complained of by RSB, that knowledge was acquired while they were acting in the role of designers and builders, not as defendants’ agents. Accordingly, any knowledge they acquired could not be imputed to defendants.