This is the first in a series of articles that will examine issues that can arise in the relationship between the architect in a construction project and the property owner, the contractor, subcontractors and others who may be involved. Just by the size of the list of those involved in a given project, one can see that many moving parts can come into play with many combinations of responsibilities.
Perhaps the best place to begin is the beginning. Architects, like doctors and attorneys, are professionals in Florida and other states. Professionals are required to be licensed by the state. Professional licensure means, of course, that there are all sorts of legal requirements.
An “architect” in Florida must be a natural person, licensed to engage in the practice of architecture. A natural person is a living, breathing human being, as opposed to legally created “persons” like corporations or LLCs. This bare bone definition doesn’t mean much by itself. It makes more sense if one considers the definition of “architecture” contained in the statute.
Architecture is bit more complicated. Let’s outline it. “Architecture” means the rendering or offering to render services in connection with the:
design and construction of a structure or group of structures
which have as their principal purpose human habitation or use, and
the utilization of space within and surrounding such structures.
These services include:
providing preliminary study designs,
drawings and specifications,
job-site inspection, and
administration of construction contracts.
The definition of architecture is quite comprehensive. On its face it appears to be simple, but when the real world of construction collides with it, things can get complicated very quickly.
One might refer to the statutory definition as being one representing an “ivory tower” description of how architecture has been traditionally viewed by the public at large as well as the state.
However, there is a real world out there, one in which business and logistical realities can create issues with the application of the legal requirements set out for architects. These issues can create liability problems for the practicing architect.