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Study suggests property owners often look to blame architects for issues

The Bay Area construction industry has been experiencing a boom for many years now. While this is a boon for design professionals such as architects, the high demand brings added pressure. Property owners and developers can have expectations that are on the verge of unrealistic, and when something seems amiss, those owners look for someone to blame.

One study suggests architects are often first on the list.

Owners, uncertainty and architects

One of the biggest stressors for anyone involved in a construction project is uncertainty. But what factors most often cause this uncertainty? One study found it depends who you talk to. The researchers surveyed both property owners and architects, asking them about which sources of uncertainty had a high impact on a project.

The results indicate owners are quick to point the finger at architects.

The three most prevalent sources of uncertainty, according to owners, are unforeseen site or construction issues (47%), followed by design errors (41%) and design omission (41%). That means more than four in every 10 owners are already wary of an architect’s work going into a project, and view the designs with at least a small level of skepticism.

Meanwhile, property owners viewed aspects of a project they often influence (such as design changes they request, or an accelerated schedule) as far less prominent causes of uncertainty.

Why this matters

When a property owner is unhappy, they want someone to blame. The study above demonstrates they won’t scrutinize their own decisions, at least initially. Rather, they’ll likely first turn their attention toward design professionals. This could mean a costly lawsuit, even if the issue was not actually the architect’s fault.

Such a suit might include allegations of:

  • Document errors, including poor research
  • Building code violations
  • Straying from the client’s plans
  • Unmet project terms
  • Fraud
  • Lack of supervision

Whether false or not, these types of charges are not to be taken lightly. If not properly defended against, they can put a design professional’s reputation – and therefore, career – at risk.