Who's Liable for What on a Construction Project?
Large construction projects involve several key players. There's the owner, of course. The owner may hire the architect and structural engineer to design the project; once the design is ready, the team hires a general contractor and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing contractors. Each of these players has a unique set of responsibilities on the project—and a unique set of liabilities, too.
The Property Owner
Without the property owner, there is no project. Owners are liable for big-picture problems on a construction job, including:
- Non-compliance with environmental, zoning, or other rules
- An unsafe workplace that leads to injuries for workers or guests
- Off-site damages, such as damage to municipality-owned resources (e.g., water or power)
- Construction delays caused by the Owner
As the design lead for a project, the architect's liability may extend to the work they do themselves and, sometimes, the construction work others perform in relation to their designs. Therefore, architects may face liability claims in instances such as:
- Faulty construction stemming from design flaws
- Injuries to laborers or others due to unsafe conditions the architect observed but failed to address
- A failure to meet all relevant fire, safety, and building codes
The Structural Engineer
As licensed professionals, engineers can face liability claims similar to those made against an architect. But two additional circumstances could lead to legal action against a project's engineer:
- Negligent performance of duties under the contract
- Sealing and stamping plans that they did not personally review
The General Contractor
General contractors oversee the entire project, including the work of subcontractors, and are the most likely to bear liability for issues relating to a construction contract. Under Colorado law, general contractors must execute their responsibilities in a manner that a reasonable person would find acceptable, and the construction must be of at least a “workmanlike construction.” But even if they do that, contractor liability may apply in cases such as:
- Failing to complete the work as defined in the contract, or exceeding time or budget requirements
- Construction defects due to negligence on the part of the GC's employees or subcontractors, or the use of substandard materials
- Potential personal injury of laborers or other individuals on the construction site, or damage to third-party properties
- Failure to pay laborers, vendors, or others for goods and services
Mechanical, Engineering, and Plumbing (MEP) Contractors
MEP contractors' liabilities are similar to those of the architect and structural engineer. They, too, may be sued for:
- Failure to design work that complies with required safety codes
- Failure to communicate design issues to the project's contractor before or even during construction
If you're a property owner or construction professional who needs advice regarding a potential liability, the team at Volpe Law, LLC, can help. Call our offices today at (720) 441-3328 or contact us online to request a free consultation.
The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be construed as providing legal advice on any subject matter. Laws frequently change and therefore this content is not necessarily up to date, nor comprehensive. Contact us or another attorney with any legal questions specific to your matter. You may request a consultation by completing our consultation request form.