This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
An architect, like any other professional man, impliedly contracts with his employer that he has the ordinary skill, knowledge, and judgment possessed by men of his profession, and that he will use this skill, care and judgment in the interest of his employer, and will act with perfect honesty. If legal damage arises from defects in the plans or specifications which are the result of failure to exercise the required skill, knowledge, or judgment, the architect is liable to the owner for such damage. In a general way it may be said that this knowledge and skill required includes the knowledge and skill necessary to planning buildings or parts of buildings such as those planned by the architect, a knowledge of the qualities and strength of materials used in such buildings, the weight of the structures, the relationship of the various operations to be performed by the many trades represented in building, and a knowledge of all other matters directly related to drawing plans and specifications.
In addition to this knowledge of the fundamental laws of nature, of materials, etc., an architect represents himself as possessed of a knowledge of the statutes, ordinances, and laws relating to buildings and to the erection of buildings of the place where the structure is to be located. It would seem, however, that he would not be charged with knowledge of the decisions of inspectors or referees in regard to points left indefinite by the statutes, ordinances, or building laws of the particular locality, unless such decisions are in the court or public records. The architect is likewise liable for his failure to use reasonable skill, etc., in any respect in which he acts as agent for the owner. In an action to enforce such liability what constitutes reasonable care, skill, and judgment is a question of fact for the jury to determine. Unless it is specifically provided otherwise, the architect who undertakes to superintend a building is bound not only to furnish proper plans, but to see that the structure is at least reasonably well constructed, that the foundations are sufficiently deep and otherwise protected to prevent settling or cracking of the walls, that the contractors do not put in defective workmanship or materials, or make material variations from the plans and specifications, such as a competent architect using the requisite care, skill, and attention would detect and prevent, or detect in time to have remedied. Where the architect has the duty merely of furnishing plans and specifications, such plans and specifications must be reasonably accurate and suitable. The architect does not guarantee that his work is perfect or that the building will be a success, he merely contracts that they will be as near perfect and successful as the average competent architect would make them.
The architect is held, in respect to loyalty to his employer, to the rules applicable to an agent. The impropriety of his having any secret financial interest in the work has been spoken of under the general laws of agency.
Inasmuch as the contract with the architect is for personal service demanding skill and judgment, the contract does not survive the architect but is terminated by his death. Therefore his executors or administrators are not liable for the failure to fulfill the contract caused by the architect's death.
Inasmuch as the architect performs a personal service, one demanding the exercise of special skill, judgment and discretion, he cannot, in the absence of special authority, delegate the performance of such services to another because of the rule of law already stated. As this rule does not apply to the purely ministerial duties of an architect, such as measuring or draughting, these latter duties may be delegated even in the absence of express authority.