How architects can better manage the risk associated with California’s increased code requirements

Although the pandemic has had the greatest impact on humanity in quite some time, in the building industry, we were already facing numerous challenges before the quarantine started. 2020 has also been a year for some rather stringent code changes in both residential and nonresidential construction, particularly in California.

With new code requirements, including the adoption of a definition of Zero Net Energy for all new residential projects, there also comes additional risk and complexity.

For architects, the new requirements are particularly complicated with regards to the building envelope.

Longtime friend, colleague and current Xpera consulting architect Bruce Bergman wrote an in-depth article highlighting a number of code, legal and other concern design professionals should consider.

Among Bruce’s recommendations is to seek out a third party building envelope consultant:

Involve the consultant early during the design development phase to mitigate the cost and out-of-sequence time to re-design. If early involvement is not anticipated during proposals with the building owner, consider contract provisions for out-of-sequence work.

The best practice is to hire one qualified building envelope consultant for both above- and below-grade systems, including design assist, plan review and building envelope observations.

Before retaining your consultant, confirm any cross-over conflicts between their responsibility for observing field tests under your agreement in comparison to the contractor’s scope to conduct the field tests. Consider provisions and acknowledgement in the construction document project manual.

There are a number of additional considerations that architecture firms should keep on the radar as performance requirements seemingly become more and more a potential responsibility for design professionals.

Link: Building Code Update: Energy Efficiency Design & Litigation Risk

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