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Professional Accountability

My office had the pleasure recently of completing a project in Maryland with my colleague signing and sealing our construction documents for a code impacted project.

A quick digression: for Interior Designers, the ability to sign and seal the construction documents, the legal document from which the construction team will read what is to be done and how it is to be put together and with what materials, is a hotly contested state by state issue. About half of states do not yet recognize interior designers as a profession that requires licensing (and therefore accountability for their work) and even fewer states give their designers the privilege to sign & seal on work in code impacted spaces. It’s a complicated issue that architects, interior designer, decorators and other rated trades all get caught up in.

I consider this a question of responsibility and accountability when talking about code impacted spaces. Who do you want responsible for the work: the person who did the work, or a outsider who came in at the end to review it and put their name on it? Right now the latter is what happens in many small firms such as ours. In states where interior designers don’t have the ability to sign & seal, a small interiors firm will hire an architect to review the drawings and then sign and seal them.

This means in the (knock on wood) case of a later legal dispute over the work that the architect who signed and sealed the drawings is liable for the work, not the person or company who did it. I personally don’t think that’s right and why I support licensing; it will lead to interior designers having the right and responsibility for their life’s work. It will lead to greater accountability and professionalism. It sets a bar of minimum competency that is required for certain kinds of design work. I think we should all be accountable for our work and that’s why I think this is an important issue.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Dudek

    Well said.  It is unfortunate that so many ID’ers do not take the time to fully consider the facts of this issue.  The AIA unfortunately has about a 100 year head start on us.  Hence their stranglehold on our efforts to expand our right to work in code regulated environments.  

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