ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 3 - Issue: 26 - 06/27/2014

Are Designs Expected to Be Perfect?

By Steve Rizer


Are designs in the construction world expected to perfect? This is one of the questions that Peter Vosbikian, a shareholder and managing consultant with GREYHAWK, addressed during WPL Publishing’s 90-minute “Pricing Design Deficiency Claims: Keys to Success” webinar, a recording of which recently was added to the ConstructionPro Network ( Download Library free of charge for members.


Vosbikian reported that he has never been involved in a project “where a design is expected to be perfect. Some design defects should be expected by the owner. While a design professional is responsible to produce complete, accurate, and coordinated design and construction documents, nothing built is ever perfect, nor does the law, at least to my knowledge, require a perfect design. With this in mind should come, at least to some extent, an expectation that the owner may have to absorb some of the cost resulting from an imperfect design.”


Vosbikian recommended that when analyzing damages associated with errors and omissions, “it’s first necessary to establish that an error or omission exists” (see figure below). “Then, an understanding of the subject work should be developed in an effort to facilitate analyzing the costs associated with the necessary corrective work. So, it is important to understand the work being considered under the change. Next, defer to the contract for any methodologies set forth in evaluating and quantifying such design defects.”



Before ending his presentation, Vosbikian offered some advice regarding fees. “Be cautious of projects that require the engineer to perform design services for a fee that’s inadequate. An inadequate fee may be a red flag of trouble down the road.” He cautioned that saving money on design elements can result in increased construction costs.


Furthermore, “consider limiting the scope of the work performed to the fee proposed,” Vosbikian suggested. “At least from what I’ve seen, a limited scope performed to the professional standard of care is better than a broad scope of hasty work with inattention to detail.”


Earlier in the webinar, Vosbikian explained what a “design deficiency” is, provided examples of what are and are not design deficiencies, highlighted some sample contract language and calculations in practice, and offered some insurance considerations.


For immediate access to the complete webinar (full audio and visual) -- as well as more than three dozen other construction-related webinars that are available for download -- sign up to become a member of WPL Publishing’s ConstructionPro Network, a complete training, education, and development resource for the construction industry, at




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