Handling Building Design Error & Defect Case in North Carolina
When an architect, engineer or other design professional creates plans for a building, those plans serve as the blueprint for all subsequent work. If the designer of a building makes errors or oversights, they create the potential for civil liability claims. When a designer, such as an architect, or engineer, makes errors or omissions in the design and/or oversight of a building or other construction project, the problems created can quickly become complicated, costly, and serious.
In general, a number of parties are involved in large and complex building projects. These include the design professionals, general contractor, and various subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, etc.). When an unsafe or defective condition occurs in a building, the parties responsible for that condition can be held liable. For example, if a building, such as a house, townhouse, or condominium, leaks and suffers from rot or water damage due to defective design and/or improper construction, the designers, contractor, and other responsible parties can be held liable.
Common Designer-Related Errors
- Negligently prepared plans
- Inadequate or missing designs or details
- Negligence in specifications
- Incomplete, inadequate, or incorrect specifications
- Failing to demonstrate a level of reasonable care in:
- Preparation of plans
- Oversight of construction
- Inspection of construction details as required
- Deviations from the standards of the profession
- Designs that produce unreasonably dangerous conditions
- Failing to comply with relevant laws, building codes, etc.
- Basing designs on incorrect codes
- Designs that fail to comply with manufacturers’ requirements and recommendations
- Designs that fail to meet safety requirements
Limitation of Liability Clauses
A building’s designer may add provisions to the contractual agreements that contain limitations of monetary liability. There have been rulings in North Carolina where such “limitation of liability clauses” were prohibited when deemed as contrary to public policy. Consult with an experienced attorney if your design professional’s contract contains such a clause. Liquidated Damages
Clauses referred to as liquidated damages clauses do not seek to absolve a party from liability, but instead, allow parties to come to an agreement on an amount of maximum liability. The first requirement for validity is that potential damages would be difficult to ascertain if there was a breach. The second requirement is that the amount of liquidated damages called for must be a reasonable estimate of damages if there were a breach, or reasonably proportionate to any damages caused by a breach.
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