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Why Hire an Architect

Architecture isn't only for museums, corporations, or the wealthy. Whether you are remodeling the kitchen, creating your dream home, sitting on the building committee for a new school or civic center, or planning a commercial or other building, working with a Registered Architect can save time and money by making new spaces more functional, comfortable, efficient, and environmentally responsible. Registered Architects can play a pivotal role in reducing the overall environmental impact and energy needed to create and operate buildings, the single biggest consumer of fossil fuels. The result is a project that is beautiful, distinctive, efficient, and healthy for us and the planet.
Source: AIA

Registered Architects are licensed Professionals by the State Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The designation of "Architect" is a legally protected term issued by the State for those who have met the strict educational, testing and work requirements of that State. These standards are essentially equivalent between the States and include:

5 year Professional Bachelor of Architecture Degree or 2-4 year Professional Masters' of Architecture Degree from an Accredited University.

Extensive 3 year Internship Development Program working under a Licensed Architect.

Pass all 7 of the National Registration Boards within a 5 year time frame.

Registered Architect with the State Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Whether submitting for a building permit on a residential or commercial project, most municipalities require a signed and sealed set of construction documents and specifications from a Registered Architect.

As a licensed professional, the Registered Architect is charged by the State to account for any and all life safety measures, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), State/International Building Code requirements (Florida Building Code and International Building Code) and State/ National Fire Code requirements (Florida Fire Prevention Code and NFPA).

As your agent during the construction phase of the project, the architect can help evaluate bids received and assist the owner in the selection of a licensed contractor.

Architects are contractually involved with construction administration services and are obligated during this phase to protect the owner's interests from the contractor by documenting that the project is being built in accordance with approved plans and specifications.

RISK OF USING UNLICENSED PERSONS

Even with strong licensure standards, Florida continues to have too many problems with unlicensed activity that almost always hurts the consumer for the following reasons:

A person operating without a required license is often an individual who cannot qualify for licensure. This is usually related to problems with knowledge, training and/or business management. This is the wrong person to entrust with design or construction of your home.

Because unlicensed persons are not registered with any government agency, these individuals know it will be difficult for a customer to force compliance or completion of work, and this is a chronic problem. It is not uncommon for a consumer to give an unlicensed person a down payment and never again see that person. 

Disregard for licensure requirements is usually coupled with disregard for other laws, such as state and federal tax laws, workers’ compensation insurance laws, and permitting laws. A violation of any of these laws by someone who works on your property is almost certain to put you at risk for payment of taxes, penalties, or any injury that may occur during the work. The same disregard also extends to the use of substandard or lesser materials to complete a job, and this is often very difficult for a consumer to detect before it is too late.

Under some property or liability insurance policies, work performed by an unlicensed person or otherwise in violation of building code requirements will invalidate coverage if there is a problem and may apply even if the problem is not strictly related to the work performed.

Because unlicensed persons are not able to qualify to obtain a permit, they often perform work without a permit or ask the property owner to obtain the permit. Under either of these scenarios, the construction or repair is still subject to inspection and approval. Failure to comply with these requirements could prevent sale of the property years later.

Consumers hurt by unlicensed persons often find it difficult to get assistance from authorities responsible for prosecuting crimes because these cases are not often considered to be a high priority.

Source: Buildingasafeflorida.com

The Legal Case

Registered Architects have the sole professional ability to sign and seal a set of architectural drawings. These drawings are considered legal documents by the State and must abide in their production by State statutes and a professional standard of care. These statutes may vary by State, but generally follow the same summation of requirements:

Use of the Seal: 61G1-16.003, F.A.C.

A Registered Architect shall not affix his/her seal or name to any plan, specifications, drawings, or other related document which was not prepared by him/her or under his/her responsible supervising control.

Responsible Supervising Control Over Architectural Practice in the Architect?s Office: 61G1-23.010, F.A.C.

Each architectural office maintained for the preparation of drawings, specifications, reports and other professional work shall have an architect duly registered with the Board of Architecture & Interior Design within that office with full authority and in responsible charge, having direct knowledge and supervising control over such work. The architect providing responsible supervisory control must be a full time employee within that office location in responsible control for projects in that office. Therefore an architect can only provide responsible supervisory control over one location. Every office offering architecture services must have a resident full time architect meeting the requirements of this rule.

Responsible Supervising Control Over Architectural Practice Outside of the Architect?s Office. 61G1-23.015, F.A.C.

An architect may seal and sign any documents, instruments of service, specifications, reports or other work which requires the seal and signature of a registered architect prepared outside of the architect?s office, so long as all of the procedures set forth below are met.

The architect accepts professional responsibility for all architectural design activities of a project performed outside of the architect?s office throughout design development and the production of all documents and instruments of service. The architect shall prepare and maintain as evidence of the architect?s continuing effort in such work: written calculations, correspondence, time records, check prints, telephone logs, site visit logs or research done for the project and shall provide such evidence to state or local authorities upon their request.

The architect maintains written documentation that the architect has personally supervised the preparation of all documents and instruments of service, reviewed all project data, personally inspected the project site and entered into a written agreement with the persons preparing the documents accepting professional responsibility for such work.

The architect makes certain, if the work which the architect intends to seal and sign has been prepared by another person outside the architect?s office, that whenever such final work is submitted to a client, building owner or building user, the architect is present during such submissions in order to respond to questions from the client, owner or user. The architect shall maintain written minutes of such a submission meeting.

Responsible Supervising Control Over for Documents for Exempt Buildings Which Require an Architect's Seal and Signature for Building Permit Purposes. 61G1-23.025, F.A.C.

The procedures set forth in Rule 61G1-23.015, F.A.C., shall also be followed when an architect is required by local building ordinance to sign and seal plans for buildings which unlicensed persons are authorized to design under the exceptions contained in subsections 481.229(1)(a)-(c), F.S.

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