How to proceed after architect error

benjesbrideFebruary 18, 2014

We have taken a small, 1185 square foot 2 bedroom, 1 bath house down to studs. We enlisted the help of a local architect after Christmas, providing them with a detailed SketchUp drawing of the as-built structure. (My husband measured the building using a laser type tape measure.)
On New Year's Day we were working on removing the chimney and were so pleased that one of the architects came over to re-measure. I was impressed with how quickly he took measurements knowing it took my husband about three hours, but chalked it up to the architect's experience.

Last Friday I had a site visit with the primary architect I've been working with via telephone and email. The objective was to finalize the floor plan (now a 2 bed, 2 bath) and make a couple decisions about windows. I was so thrilled to be done with floor plan tweaking and get on with gathering bids.

As soon as I looked at the floor plan in the space, I saw that the window placement in the kitchen and dining room were all wrong. I helped her remeasure, but a red flag went up when I gave her a dimension of 2 feet 11 3/4 inches and she repeated back 3 feet. And then I measured 3 feet 2 inches and she said, "three feet."

I told my husband about the goof up and he overlayed the architect's revised autocad drawing onto his SketchUp drawing and noticed quite a few differences. On Sunday we went to the house and remeasured together; all measurements were within an inch of my husbands original. Unfortunately, the architect measurements we've been working with - four iterations of the floor plan and countless hours on my part - had an extra 8 inches across 29 foot width of the entire house.

Now, it may not sound like a lot, but we're trying to be as efficient as possible with this little house and those 8 inches have a pretty significant impact on our back to back bathrooms and trying to preserve a load bearing wall. Also, it seems the window placement we worked around for six weeks were so off they had to have been entered based on cell phone pics. The inaccurate placement of windows and doors and the 8 inch discrepancy has put us back to square one.

My husband is working in SketchUp right now and I think we've got it sorted out. We've paid them almost $1000 so far and as their billing cycle for Jan/Feb comes to a close we'll be getting another bill in about two weeks.

We're not sure how to proceed. Should we ask that they not bill us for time spent on the corrections? Should we stop working with them and just do the permit drawings ourselves? My husband is getting pretty good at SketchUp, but he is so busy with his job and traveling I had hoped a pro could save us time and spare my husband.

Sorry for the long post. If you made it this far, thank you so much for your time. Please share your thoughts.

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Sounds like what is needed is a meeting with the architect to discuss and review matters. From your description, the architect is rounding dimensions and you are keeping dimensions to the nearest actual fractional dimension.

No one here will be able to know if there's really a problem or not.

Since you believe there is a problem, an immediate meeting is the best step for resolution.

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:33PM
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I agree. The first thing you need to do is communicate the problem and then work from there to find a solution.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 9:29AM
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Are you SURE that you're dealing with an actual architect? No professional that I've ever worked with has ever "rounded up" numbers unless they're dealing with a square footage type of product overage thing. That is extremely odd.

I agree that an immediate meeting is needed to clarify the situation.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Just thought I'd post a follow up in case anyone is curious someday. The architect sincerely apologized for the errors and offered to make it right (remeasure, revise floor plan) or allow us to terminate with full refund.

They have been such nice people to work with, but we don't have any confidence in their attention to detail. We opted to terminate the contract with a 50% refund; I learned a lot from the experience and in spite of the errors do value their time and effort. We just couldn't in good conscience pay nothing.

I have since contacted another architect whose blog I follow and whose work I really appreciate, but they're booked out until may. Yikes!

Stay tuned. It looks like we're going to sort this little house's plan out by ourselves, using SketchUp and the wisdom of the GW community.

Thanks to all!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 6:20PM
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If your architect is not using a laser measuring device you should lend him yours. If you don't have one, get one.

Here is a link that might be useful: laser

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:40PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I just saw this and am shocked. I never heard of an architect that didn't shoot for accuracy. Inaccuracy is how you come across nightmares like the drawings that don't allow enough space for the door trim or drawer openings, etc. I'm glad that you are choosing someone else. If they are so lackadaisical about measurements then how sloppy will they be on the rest of the design, let alone communications. There are about 100,000 ways for problems to creep into the design/build process. Inattention to detail is a totally unnecessary one and doesn't belong.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 3:43PM
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No surprise here. A builder friend of mine faced with an impossible plan detail in the middle of construction called the prestigious architect for clarification. His answer: "You're just going to have to use some on-site ingenuity."

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:38PM
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