Should a problem arise with the roof, who does the client contact – the contractor or the architect? The architect will, naturally, pass the problem on to the contractor, who now has responsibility for the roof. The contractor will look for a way to minimise his involvement by either passing it on to his insurers for Designee Indemnity (if he has any or it is still in force) or blaming the architect for design faults within the supporting structure or with its interrelationships with other components of the building.
If the client goes straight to the contractor, the same thing will occur, but in reverse.
So now we have a very disappointed client with a building that is not operating properly and a dispute that is quickly sinking into a costly legal morass.
No doubt the client overruled his architect because there appeared to be a significant saving to be made on the contract. I question whether this saving will materialise in the long term.
An architect has to have Design Indemnity Insurance to be able to practise, a trade contractor does not. So who is going to guarantee that the contractor is still in business in years to come or even able to support insurance in the future? I know you can say the same about the architect, but I also know whom I would rather depend on.
Luke asks why the client should be faced with paying for delays; he shouldn't. I feel sorry for any client who is not a professional in property development but is just putting up a one-off building and relying on his professional advisers. In that case, the client may be the final arbiter, but he should beware of getting between the contractual relationships.
P Whitbread, via email.