Avoiding Contract Liability

Anytime that a property retains a contractor to perform repairs or maintenance, the parties involved (typically the Building Owner and the Contractor) have certain responsibilities.  Under most contracts, like those of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), it is required that the Contractor be solely and totally responsible for:

Supervision of the work and the activities of all employees;

The specific “means and methods” that are used to complete the work;

Safety of all work areas as well as the public that may pass through or near work being performed.

It is vitally important that the Building Owner not interfere with the work of the contractor in these areas or specifically direct the Contractor how to perform his work in regards to these matters.  It is reasonable to discuss issues with the Contractor, review contract requirements, etc.  However, if the Building Owner specifically directs the Contractor to perform work a certain way, the Building Owner may become directly responsible for any undesired consequences.

As always, check with your legal counsel regarding this issue and be careful about what you tell a contractor to do.