Stop Work



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    Christopher Hopstock (Edited )

    If you're on a site visit and see an immediately dangerous condition, the advice is generally to notify the contractor of the condition and let them determine how to resolve it.  Law for Architects (pp. 184-186) talks about how you can be held liable for an injury on a construction site if you see a dangerous condition and do nothing about it.  For testing purposes, I would avoid choosing any answers that have to do with the architect 'directing' anyone to do anything on site, and definitely any choices that talk about you stopping the work.

    If the contractor is unaware of how to resolve the issue, they might need to hire someone to help them navigate the situation - but that's a means and methods issue and therefore, not your concern (B101,  You should never 'instruct' or 'direct' the contractor to stop the work - you have no authority to do so according to the AIA standard agreements. 

    Here's a bad scenario to consider - you direct the contractor to stop the work, and they do for 5 days because you thought there were hazardous materials on site.  Turns out there weren't - but you thought it's better to be safe than sorry.  Months later, the project is delayed and the contractor has a liquidated damages clause in their contract - $1,000 per day.  You can bet that the contractor is going to try to hold you liable for at least $5,000 in delay costs that they now owe the owner, and probably much more.  It's a bad situation to put yourself into.

    While we're on the topic of preventing yourself from being part of a lawsuit, I just want to point out that this isn't legal advice; just advice about how I'd answer a question like this on the ARE.  I'm not a lawyer and certainly not your lawyer :D

    Chris Hopstock RA
    Black Spectacles
    ARE Community

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    Rebekka O'Melia

    Hi Yusuf,

    The 'correct' answer for the ARE is that the architect notifies the site superintendent about the safety issue.  If we were onsite and saw something that was about to collapse on workers, I would absolutely shut down the area.  If the contractor didn't listen we could escalate the issue to the owner, the AHJ and/or OSHA.  OSHA has a hotline even. 

    If it's truly toxic or an emergency, I would consider the ramifications of not acting on the situation (someone dying or getting seriously injured), rather than the potential legal ramifications of the project not being finished on time.

    The ARE answer is to notify the contractor.

    Hope this helps!

    Rebekka O'Melia, R.A., NCARB, B. Arch, M. Ed, NOMA, Step UP ARE 5.0 Courses

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