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Architectural firm has to pay up after court case

As a recent blog entry detailed that whenever there is a construction dispute it can be very expensive to resolve. That's what one architectural firm in Fort Lauderdale is experiencing first-hand, as it recently entered into an agreement to pay the Broward County School District $1.56 million after a design dispute involving an elementary school resulted in alleged violations of Florida's fire code.

The firm, Saltz Michelson Architects, did not admit fault in their agreement to cover expenses related to improved fire safety at the school, Oakland Park's North Andrews Gardens Elementary.

The firm was hired by the school district back in 1999 to design the proposed expansion and renovation of two buildings on the school's campus. The project was supposed to cost over $7 million to complete.

Construction began in 2002. The following year, an inspector for the school district discovered violations in the buildings' designs that went against the fire code. One alleged violation was that the ceilings on the second floor had no fireproofing; there reportedly were also others.

Numerous orders to change the construction followed, increasing the price of the project by more than a million over budget. Still, inspectors failed to pass the property due to ongoing code violations.

In 2008, the school district filed a lawsuit against the architectural firm. Their suit alleged that errors and omissions created flaws in the school's design. The firm countered that the design was in compliance with Florida standards and that the school district had never objected to the design when it was first submitted.

It is always better to try to avert a disaster than to mitigate its effects later. If you see your construction project souring in the early phases, it may be wise to consult with a legal professional who can assist you with resolving the issues and getting it back on track once more.

Source: The Real Deal, "Lauderdale firm will pay $1.56M to end design fight," Oct. 16, 2016

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