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To avoid having to pay for consultants’ errors, design professionals should require in their contracts that their consultants provide and maintain appropriate insurance coverage. To ensure this has been obtained, designers should obtain certificates of insurance from their consultants. Designers also need to be aware that professional liability coverage is generally issued on a claims-made and reported basis. This means that claims asserted must be reported during the policy period currently in effect, or for a limited time after the policy expires. If a claim is first asserted after the policy expires – even if it relates to services provided during the policy period – there would be no coverage under the policy. And if the design professional fails to obtain a renewed insurance policy after the project is completed, there would be no coverage for a claim that is asserted at a later date.

To avoid the potential that consultants will be uninsured, when the original coverage expires, design professional-primes need to obtain a new certificate of insurance from their consultants showing they have adequate continued professional liability coverage. Designers should also incorporate a provision in their contracts with the consultants requiring the consultants to maintain insurance coverage.

Selection of a consultant is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Design professionals retaining consultants must investigate consultants as they would a prospective client. Ensure your consultant agreements are consistent with the obligations of your contract with the client, and finally, require all consultants to provide and maintain insurance coverage throughout the project. It could save you a lot of time and money in the future.


G e n e l l e A n d e r s o n , A I A I s F e a t u r e d o n t h e U l t i m a t e R e a l i t y T V S h o w B y J o d y C u r t i s 2

From the sidewalk, the red brick row house at 1134 6th Street, NW, looks like a typically well-kept home, nestled mid-block among similar structures in DC’s Mount Vernon/Shaw neighborhood.

Once the front door swings open, it’s not typical at all: a stone mosaic on the vestibule floor is the welcome mat. An exposed brick wall runs the length of the corridor on the right side. On the left another long wall is painted pale gold and articulated with three niches, each illuminated by a solitary halogen light fixture. The focal point at the end of the hall is an oak staircase that curves ever so slowly up and out of view, as if it were the yellow brick road to Oz itself. Said Genell Anderson, AIA, the architect who designed this space, “I wanted the homeowners to walk in the door and think, ‘Wow,’ every time they come home.”

Never mind that this once-lovely Italianate-style house (circa 1879) was vacant for nearly a decade, suffered from fire and water damage, fell into ruin, and was a crack house for a time. Anderson, 49, principal of AMAR Group, LLC, was asked to make plans to renovate it with a next-to-nothing budget. She’s accustomed to that – for much of her 20-year career she’s worked on urban houses that have plenty of challenges.

Anderson grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and studied architecture at Tulane University. After a sabbatical tour through Cameroon, Gambia, Senegal, and Nigeria, she wrote The Call of the Ancestors, a book about African influences on southern architecture. That trip, she says, gave her insight into “shotgun” houses common in New Orleans. It evolved into her guiding philosophy: that good design comes more frequently from ingenuity than from money.

That kind of thinking led the producers of the PBS television show This Old House to seek her help in turning the 6th Street house into an affordable residence for a low-to moderate-income family – and explain it all on camera.

The property owner at the time was a private, nonprofit housing developer, Mi Casa, that renovates properties and then sells them at below-market rates to first-time homebuyers of modest means. Mi Casa bought the house from the DC government for one dollar through the city’s Home Again Initiative, a program aimed at transforming vacant and abandoned residential properties into owner-occupied single-family homes. By increasing homeownership and eliminating blight, the Home Again Initiative helps to stabilize neighborhoods and contribute to local economic sustainability, goals that dovetail perfectly with Mi Casa’s mission.

Mi Casa’s budget for the project was $250,000 with $50,000 set aside for architect’s fees, appraisals, permits and the like. That’s an $85 per square foot budget to re-do a 2,950 square foot property inside out.

2 Reprinted with the permission of the AIA/DC, Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects


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