State Enacts Design-Build and Seal Law

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

Sub. H.B. 231 has just been passed and will change Ohio law governing design-build work effective November 24, 1995 as follows:

  • All plans for a building permit will require the seal of a registered architect or professional engineer with four minor exceptions:
    • energy conservation projects under §3781.181;
    • 1, 2 or 3 family units;
    • building code exempt projects; and
    • replacements or modifications where no plans are required.
  • Contractors may provide design-build services and contract directly with owners to offer design services, so long as the services are provided by a licensed architect and engineer.

In view of this development, a design-build contractor need not have the owner contract directly for these design services, so long as the contractor has hired a licensed architect or engineer.

The design liability in this scenario rests solely with the design-build contractor in the first instance. In that regard, the architects and engineers boards are supposed to adopt rules requiring professional liability insurance. As the rules have not yet been enacted, contractors are encouraged to insist upon professional liability insurance from "subcontract engineers and architects" on design-build work, rather than assuming it is in place as many appear to be uninsured for errors and omissions these days.

The bill also changes Ohio law by applying the statutory selection process for design professionals and construction managers to all public entities regardless of contract amount.