For owners to win redress under the 1972 Act, a dwelling must be unfit to live in
Architects need to be aware of their possible liabilities under the Defective Premises Act 1972. By taking on work for the design of a new dwelling (or the creation of several new dwellings from the conversion of an existing single building, for example) an architect will be liable to the person commissioning the works – or to a future owner of the works – if the design is not carried out in a professional manner so that the dwelling will be fit for habitation when completed.
This is not limited to the first owner or first purchaser, but will apply to all parties who in the future acquire an interest in the dwelling. The existence of mere defects does not create liability, the dwelling must actually be unfit for habitation for an architect to be liable.
Another key risk for architects to be aware of is that the test is whether the architect has acted in a ‘professional manner’.
That may not involve negligence on the part of an architect, and therefore the professional indemnity insurers may not cover an architect’s liability for the claims under the DPA, unless there is also negligence on the part of the architect.