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Technology Lends a Hand to Your Firm's Legal Team

Architects face a myriad of federal, state and local laws and regulations that only grow with complexity each year. The good news is that technology can help your firm navigate the enormous web of laws and regulations.

This article looks at two areas where technology can help save an architect time and money when dealing with legal matters: offering support with potential lawsuits and complying with building codes.

Help Navigating Code Complexity at The Local Level

Building codes began sprouting up around the U.S. thanks in part to the American workforce relocating to the prosperous industrial cities of the early twentieth centuries. Someone had to look out for the safety and welfare of the general public, and state and local governments were more than happy to step in and fill the role of code creator and enforcer. Ever since, it's been a balancing act to keep the public safe without drowning in needless regulations.

To emphasize the importance of building code compliance, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards has included code compliance items in the Architect Registration Examination. Many states also have continuing education requirements that focus on the area of health, safety and welfare.

Many BIM software packages now have code validation features that cross-check designs with the International Building Code, among other databases. Even when used in tandem with manual validation (usually a good idea anyways to decrease liability risks), validation through a software program can save an architect valuable time on a project.

Support with Dispute Management and Resolution

Contemporaneous documentation can be your lifeline when facing the courts or regulatory authorities. According to Donald Doeg, principal at the law firm Updike, Kelly & Spellacy in Connecticut, maintaining a real-time paper trail of all communication increases the level of understanding between architects and the parties they work with during a project.

"Since no one likes surprises, constant communication is a means by which potential surprises and problem areas can be mitigated or eliminated at a very early stage," said Doeg in "The Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice." Correspondence, clarifying sketches or drawings and RFIs all serve this goal. More often than not, problems that are discussed during the project can be resolved with no permanent downside to any party."

Trials involving construction or building projects often occur years after the events that lead to the dispute. It can be challenging, if not impossible, to accurately recall key facts and conversations by memory. That's where contemporaneous documentation can be the expert witness during a trial.

Creating and archiving these documents and communication can be aided with ArchiOffice, the award-winning time tracking, billing and project management solution created by architects, for architects. To learn more about ArchiOffice or schedule a walk-through demonstration today, please call us at (855) 687-1028 or email us at

The Author

Steven Burns, FAIA

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing his firm Burns + Beyerl Architects. After creating ArchiOffice®, the smart office and project management solution for architectural firms, Steve brought his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is perfecting the business strategy and product development.

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