Seminar To Cover Legal Side Of Design And Build

May 14, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Because it was standing room only at their first go-round 18 months ago, a full house could be in the cards again for their second seminar next month.

Bruce Courtade and Stephen Hilger will be holding a one-day seminar on the design and build aspect of construction management on June 12 at the Radisson Grand Rapids North, 270 Ann St. NW. Courtade and Hilger are attorneys in the construction law practice at Rhoades, McKee, Boer, Goodrich & Titta PC.

“This is the second time we’ve given this seminar. We gave it in November of 2000 and it sold out, so they asked us to do it again,” Courtade said of Lorman Educational Service, the sponsor of the seminar.

The design and build side of construction management is contrary to how projects usually go up and is a method that is being used more frequently. Normally an architect designs a project and a general contractor builds it, and each party is responsible for their specific areas. Often, there can be some tension between the designer and builder.

But in design and build, one does both. Doing that removes the tension from the project. But often either the designer or builder isn’t fully aware of the laws that govern the process and the responsibilities that accompany doing both tasks.

“This seminar focuses on the unique relationships and the unique nature of the design-build construction system, which is growing in popularity as people try to avoid the problems that sometimes arise in the more traditional construction setup,” said Courtade.

“The contractor becomes responsible for more things, or you also can have architects who are taking on design-build responsibilities. So both professions are seeking to take advantage of this opportunity and we’ll discuss their rights and responsibilities,” he added.

Courtade and Hilger will explore six different design and build topics, plus hold a question-and-answer session at the end of the seminar.

Hilger will provide an overview of the single point system, look at the responsibilities associated with construction management, and also explain the various design and build management techniques.

Courtade will tackle the licensing implications of design-build management, as a licensed architect may not be licensed as a builder, and vica versa. And there are certain design-build projects that must have both licenses.

“We’ll have a discussion about under what circumstances someone has to be licensed for both professions in order to engage in a design-build project,” he said.

Other issues that Courtade will talk about are the implications of bonding and insurance, when a builder or an architect assumes both roles.

For instance, normally builders carry comprehensive general liability coverage. But often they do not have a policy for professional liability, which could become a costly mistake if a builder is solely directing a design and build project.

“The CGL policy provides coverage against claims for bodily injury and property damage that comes from the construction work. But it does not cover errors in omissions, the type of policy that is usually taken out by design professionals. That covers claims arising from professional negligence or malpractice,” said Courtade.

“Most of the CGL policies will specifically exclude negligence or malpractice. So there could be a situation where a builder has a CGL policy in place, which is absolutely fine for when they are doing a traditional construction-management approach. But once they take on the architect’s role, they can find themselves exposed to incredible liability if it turns out that the problem with the construction is a design problem,” he added.

Both Hilger and Courtade will address the risk that owners, builders and subcontractors assume with the design-and-build process, and then they will hold the question-and-answer session. The entire agenda can be attended, as none of the sessions will run concurrently.

Hilger is experienced in construction and complex commercial litigation, and has written nearly 40 articles on construction law. Courtade specializes in construction law, along with state and federal laws that govern fair competition.

The seminar costs $259 for a single registrant, $249 each for two or more. Phone (715) 833-3959 to register, or (715) 833-3940 for further information. Seminar manuals and audiotapes also are available from Lorman. The seminar will run from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Lorman Educational Services is located in Eau Clair, Wis., and at www.lorman.com

“We had architects, construction companies, and commercial developers who were thinking about engaging in a design-build project,” said Courtade of their first seminar. “So we sort of covered the spectrum.”           

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