Category Archives: advocacy

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HB 2132 Strips Copyright, Opens Liability for Architects

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Creating Stock Architecture Plans for Schools Also Increases Costs, Dangers of School Construction

HB 2132 was prefiled for introduction on the first day of the 2014 Legislative Session. This bill requires that all school designs become property of the state “and may be reproduced, modified, or used by the state or any school district in the state.” It also requires that all school architectural plans be filed with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction who will make them available for other districts. In short, architects lose their copyrights and it creates a pool of stock plans.

Download Full-Text of HB 2132 (PDF)

What’s the impact?

  • School designs are not context-neutral: different site conditions, soils, orientations, etc. will necessitate extensive modifications. School designs take into account local curriculum, site conditions, safety concerns like traffic, fall hazards, LEED performance requirements, and more.
  • Code reviews are not site context-neutral: plans that meet code at one site will not meet it at others and vice-versa.
  • Stock plans are also unresponsive to market conditions for struggling school districts. The price of steel may be prohibitively expensive in the near future while adaptive reuse of an existing school would be more appropriate (and suggested) had an architect been directly involved, instead of a stock plan.
  • Architects may be held liable for use of their stock plan on a site it was never designed for, in addition to losing copyright and losing business due to stock school plans.
  • Failure to consider these issues poses both safety concerns as well as substantially increased school construction costs to meet code.

In short, stock plans may create 1) unintended costs for cash-strapped school districts, 2) building durability and safety concerns for students, 3) liability issues for architects, and 4) damage Washington state architects’ businesses.

How You Can Help

Federal Government Shutdown: What You Need to Know

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by Andrew Goldberg
AIA National Managing Director, Government Relations & Outreach
(click here to view original article)

It’s been 17 years since the federal government last experienced a shutdown. As federal agencies begin the process of shutting their doors and furloughing non-essential personnel, there are lots of questions about how it will affect all Americans, especially those who work with (and for) the federal government. If your projects receive federal funding, will they have to stop? If you are a federal contractor, what should you be doing? Much remains unclear about what happens during shutdown, including the procedures that individuals and companies doing business with the government will face. In order to help AIA members through the confusion, the AIA has launched this page to provide up-to-date informat Read More

Problematic Home Warranties Bill Passes House

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Last night the House passed HB 1393, which is a watered down version of the initial home warranty bill. This bill, while improved, still has some challenging provisions.

The House bill took architects and engineers out of the definition of “construction professional.” So it doesn’t directly target architects. However, the bill still includes “inspectors” in the definition of construction professional. And the definition also covers “design, supervision, inspection…or observation of the construction.” Therefore, an architect who inspects a project could still be held liable.

Overall, the bill does several things:

  • Proves that the “common law implied warranty of habitability” cannot be
    waived
  • Requires all contracts on the sale/construction of new residential projects
    have a written express warranty.
  • Establishes a “Home Construction Board” to investigate and mediate construction defect claims and pays for the board with a $100 fee added to the registration for builders doing residential
    construction.

The house bill does not include the problematic stamping or inspection requirements that are in the Senate Bill, Engrossed Second Substitute SB 5895.

As mentioned previously, we hope that we can continue to work the bill to clear up the ambiguities. There was controversy about the bill coming up last night in the form it did. The builders, contractors, architects/engineers, and insurers were in negotiations with the sponsor, Representative Larry Springer. It was expected that the warrant provisions would not be in the bill. It was quite surprising when the bill came out with those provisions.

Stay tuned, this issue will continue to develop and change as the bills progress.

Architects Testify Against Increased Liability

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On Wed, Feb 5, the AIA\WA President Jeffrey Hamlett, Callison-Seattle; and AIA\WA immediate Past President Timothy Buckley, Greenstone Architecture-Vancouver; testified against House Bills 1045 and 1393.

Timothy Buckley testified on behalf of the AIA Washington Council and our members. Jeffrey Hamlett is also the current President of the Architects & Engineers Legislative Council (AELC) and testified on their behalf.

House Bills 1045 and 1393 are strongly opposed by the AIA\WA. As they are currently written these bills include design professionals as liable for construction flaws and product flaws in residential construction– damages found by the original owner of the home and ALL subsequent owners. Most erroneous, with passage of these bills architects would lose the ability to be covered by professional liability insurance when doing residential construction; thus making architects open to frivolous lawsuits.

Both Jeffrey and Timothy testified that these bills will encourage architects to stop all residential construction rather than be the victims of expensive and unfounded legal action. You can view this testimony below.

To see the full hearing please click here to visit TVW.

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