Architect Standard of Care

Architect Standard of Care

What is an architect’s standard of care to an owner?  A recent case gave guidance on this standard of care and liability for change order items caused by incomplete or incorrect plans.

In School Board of Broward County v. Pierce Goodwin Alexander & Linville, the Fourth District analyzed the architect’s responsibility for change order items caused by incomplete or incorrect plans. 137 So. 3d 1059 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014).  The school board hired an architectural firm to perform design services for a school renovation project.  After construction was completed the school board sued the architect for the extra costs of change order items generated due to changes in the initial design plans to meet building code requirements after construction commenced.  At trial the jury held that the architect did not breach its standard of care as to the most expensive change order; and awarded damages as to the choice orders where liability was admitted.  The school board appealed based on the jury instructed to decide based on an incorrect standard of care.

The Fourth District reiterated the standard of care that an architect owes to an owner.  The court stated that “an architect owes a duty of care to his client in arranging site plans and drawing buildings which are in conformance with building and zoning codes as well as other similar local ordinances.”  An architect commits a tort and breaches its contract when this duty is breached.  A contractual provision can enhance the architect’s standard of care.  In this case the court held that since the contract required the architect to provide plans for a building that would be code-compliant, then that was the standard of care owed, instead of the standard of a ordinary and reasonable skill services.


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