carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby bluepicasso » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:43 pm

Hi,

This is my first visit to the site, so apologies if this topic is discussed elsewhere. I am an employed architect (registered with the RIAI and the RIBA) and have recently been approached by a couple who want me to design a house for them outside of my office, or as a nixer in other words. The Professional Indemnity Insurance policy which I have in the office will not cover me for work outside of the office. I have made the couple aware of this and suggested that I may only be able to take the project up to planning level and would not be able to sign the building off. Again they seem fine with this and have accepted that they will need to get some other suitably qualified person to sign the building compliance certs. However, my fear now is that I may still be liable for any design work which I may carry out up to planning level and that I may be breaking the RIAI/RIBA's Code of Conduct in some way. I have done a number of smaller nixers in the past but I was a student then and PII was the last thing on my mind!
I have contacted a PII provider who informed me that cover can not be provided for an individual project and must be taken out on an annual subscription.

I was wondering if anybody with similar experience might be able to offer some advice. Am I entitled to take a project up to planning without PII?
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby missarchi » Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:11 pm

there was an article on bdonline about this mabye worth checking it out...

I think there is some kind of mini PI deal riba have if you go that route
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby goneill » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:12 am

Many offices ban nixers, with good reason. Check first does yours. If it does, consider not doing this job. If it doesn't, you may find they are willing to take the job "under their wing", perhaps at a small premium. If you are doing nixers you are probably not doing your job properly and your employer will find out. Mind you, Frank L. Wright had half of Oak Park built before Sullivan noticed and it didn't seem to do him any harm (in the long term). Do NOTHING without PI.
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby sw101 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:54 am

goneill wrote:Many offices ban nixers, with good reason. Check first does yours. If it does, consider not doing this job. If it doesn't, you may find they are willing to take the job "under their wing", perhaps at a small premium. If you are doing nixers you are probably not doing your job properly and your employer will find out. Mind you, Frank L. Wright had half of Oak Park built before Sullivan noticed and it didn't seem to do him any harm (in the long term). Do NOTHING without PI.



Perhaps a little excessive, but this is good advice. If you do proceed, be aware that you are exposing yourself to a certain amount of risk in the event of major flaws being exposed in the design.

In my limited number of nixers, extensions and houses to planning mostly, i have always included "Planning Drawings only, not to be used for construction, check all dimensions on site". If somebody uses them for construction after that it's not my business. If somebody else chooses to sign off that constructed building that's also not my business.
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby bluepicasso » Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:35 am

sw101 wrote:Perhaps a little excessive, but this is good advice. If you do proceed, be aware that you are exposing yourself to a certain amount of risk in the event of major flaws being exposed in the design.

In my limited number of nixers, extensions and houses to planning mostly, i have always included "Planning Drawings only, not to be used for construction, check all dimensions on site". If somebody uses them for construction after that it's not my business. If somebody else chooses to sign off that constructed building that's also not my business.


Is this a legitimate disclaimer SW? As in would it stand up in court? It seems strange that by including such a simple disclaimer on your drawings you can avoid paying the huge premiums being requested by PII providers. Obviously having PII is the way to go and I may look into the RIBA's mini version as suggested by missarchi, but at the moment the quotes I am getting (from Irish companies) are extortionate and render the job unfeasible.

Thanks for your help with this one guys.
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby goneill » Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:11 am

You will probably need to discuss your proposals with the planners, and/or contact the LA during working hours so that's where your conflict with your employer begins.
The liability issue is not confined to construction issues, which shouldn't be a huge problem if you proceed as described. But non construction problems can also occur. For example, if you fail to act in time, in making an application, or submitting an appeal, your client could blame you. Likewise if your application is deficient in some way, and a frightening number are judged to be, a nasty client might say that they intended to sell the house with permission in June, and now its September and the markwt has droppped 20% and its all your fault.....etc etc
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby missarchi » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:15 am

http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=452&storycode=3134410

while searching for the story I found there is also special PI for terrorism as insurance won't cover that??? bizarre...
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby bluepicasso » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:27 am

goneill wrote:You will probably need to discuss your proposals with the planners, and/or contact the LA during working hours so that's where your conflict with your employer begins.
The liability issue is not confined to construction issues, which shouldn't be a huge problem if you proceed as described. But non construction problems can also occur. For example, if you fail to act in time, in making an application, or submitting an appeal, your client could blame you. Likewise if your application is deficient in some way, and a frightening number are judged to be, a nasty client might say that they intended to sell the house with permission in June, and now its September and the markwt has droppped 20% and its all your fault.....etc etc


Good point. It might be worth discussing it with my employer first and explaining that I intend to carry out the work outside of work hours. If I do need to take time off to speak to planners etc. then I suppose I could make up the hours in overtime. I could possibly also agree a charge for printing from the office whilst I am at it.

I think as long as you've done your homework in relation to a planning application, it is relatively low risk, especially as the clients appear to be a very relaxed young couple. Therefore I suppose my original question still stands, do I need PII to take this job up to planning if I include some sort of disclaimer on the drawings and also on the form of agreement between myself and the clients which I am currently drawing up and getting them to sign?

Thanks for your advice G.
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby bluepicasso » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:31 am

missarchi wrote:http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=452&storycode=3134410

while searching for the story I found there is also special PI for terrorism as insurance won't cover that??? bizarre...


Had a look at this earlier missarchi. Don't think it covers me for work carried out in the Republic, have emailed the RIBA and am awaiting a response. The RIAI do not have a similar product as far as I can see.

Ta.
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Re: carrying out work without professional indemnity insurance

Postby nuac » Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:32 pm

Note disclaimer suggested by SW101.

I doubt if it would provide a defence if you are joined in a professional negligence action - lawyers advising plaintiffs will join in all professional advisers.

Providing plans and design even as a nixer without PI insurance cover is foolish.
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