It is often assumed that professional negligence claims refer to suing solicitors, surveyors and perhaps even negligent accountants, but there is another field where the professional negligence claim is definitely on the rise and that is within the field of architecture. In fact, the architectural field is now almost awash with professional negligence claims, much to the delight of professional negligence solicitors, but to the chagrin of everyone else!
The key to understanding architect negligence claims is to be aware of what exactly constitutes negligence. Any new building that is finished will have a series of defects. These are usually identified as part of the ‘snagging list’ when the architects and the builders go round a building and identify what has not been finished correctly and what isn’t quite right.
The defects are a normal part of any building and certainly if every building that had defects could be subject to a professional negligence claim, the construction industry would soon be non-existent, such would be the legislation.
So a building with defects per se does not qualify as being a building that has been built by a negligent architect. It depends really on the extent of the defects and whether or not the defects exist to such an extent that the house is not safe, or that the house doesn’t fulfil the brief or that the house is not worth the money it took to build it, because of the defects. This last point is important. Often it can take say £500,000 to build a house, but, if there is then an economic slump, the house may only be worth £400,000. In itself this does not mean that there is a case for a professional negligence compensation claim. This is because the value of the house has only been brought down by external forces. If, on the other hand, the value of the house had been brought down because the roof had always leaked, then there could be an argument that someone had been negligent. If the roof is investigated thoroughly and it is found that the architect didn’t design it properly, then negligence has occurred and the client should be looking for professional negligence solicitors at his or her earliest opportunity.
The main problem with regard to a professional negligence claim against an architect is where the architect didn’t design something very well, but in addition, the engineer didn’t do their part and there can be a culture of trying to reapportion blame. But if the case is straightforward, then a professional negligence claim against an architect can often be settled quite quickly (in legal terms!)
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