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AGO 1953 No. 37 - May 08, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE CAPITOL COMMITTEE'S ARCHITECTURAL CONTRACT FOR A NEW STATE OFFICE BUILDING ‑- ALLOWANCE FOR EXTRA COMPENSATION FOR ADDITIONAL WORK RESULTING FROM CHANGE IN PURPOSE OF BUILDING PROGRAM.

 (1) The State Capitol Committee has authority to pay the architect extra compensation for the additional work involved in changing the building plans to conform to the revised program and purpose under which the state library will not be housed in the building.

 (2) The preliminary plans having been approved, the architect will be entitled to extra compensation for further changes in the plans which increase the architect's costs.
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                                                                    May 8, 1953 

State Capitol Committee
P.O. Box 17
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 37

 Attention:  !ttMr. Frank O. Sether,Assistant Secretary

Gentlemen:

             By letter of April 28, 1953, you forwarded a copy of the contract between the State Capitol Committee and A. Gordon Lum, architect, dated October 19, 1951, relating to the new state office building to be constructed pursuant to chapter 22, Laws of 1951, for the purpose of supplementing the information set forth in your letter.  We have discussed this matter with you by telephone.  You have also furnished us with a copy of the complete minutes of the State Capitol Committee meeting held April 23, 1953, covering the discussion of this subject.  We have also discussed the matter with Mr. Van Eaton, director of public institutions, who has participated in all steps pertaining to the project.

             You ask our opinion on the following questions:

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            (1) Does the State Capitol Committee have authority to pay extra compensation to the architect for revising the building plans, such revision having become necessary as the result of a change in the general program whereby the state library will not be housed in the new building?

             (2) For what further changes in the plans will the architect be entitled to additional compensation?

            Our conclusions are that:

             (1) The State Capitol Committee has authority to pay the architect extra compensation for the additional work involved in changing the building plans to conform to the revised program and purpose under which the state library will not be housed in the building.

             (2) The preliminary plans having been approved, the architect will be entitled to extra compensation for further changes in the plans which increase the architect's costs.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             Chapter 22, Laws of 1951, provided for the construction of a new state office building in Olympia adjacent to the present state capitol grounds.  Section 7 of the act made it mandatory that the state library be housed in the new building.  An architect who enters into a contract with a governmental agency is chargeable with notice of, and is bound by, any restrictions or conditions imposed by law upon the agency with respect to the proposed project.  Beachem v. Greenville County, 62 S.E. (2d) 92 (S.C. 1950).  Although the contract between the State Capitol Committee and the architect makes no express mention of it at the time that the contract was entered into, one of the preliminary purposes of the building as expressly set forth in the statute was to provide housing for the state library.

             As stated in your letter the architect, under instructions from the committee, prepared preliminary plans which included space adapted to the use of the state library.  It is our understanding that these preliminary plans were approved by the committee.  Thereafter, final plans and specifications were prepared and were ready for approval.  At this point the question of the advisability of housing the state library in the new building was brought up and action on the final plans and specifications was held in abeyance.

             Section 7, chapter 22, Laws of 1951, was amended by section 3, chapter 187, Laws  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] of 1953, by deleting the requirement that the state library be housed in the new building.  Pursuant to this amendment the committee has not instructed the architect to revise the plans so as to adapt the space formerly provided for the library, to the use of the Department of Labor and Industries.  Insofar as the library is eliminated from the program, this amounts to a definite departure from the original purpose of the building.  The requirements of the library will necessarily be substantially different from those of the Department of Labor and Industries.  The change in purpose will entail major changes in planning.  Under such circumstances, the architect is entitled to extra compensation.  Fitzgerald v. Walsh, 82 N.W. 717 (Wis. 1900); Sabin v. Cameron, 133 N.W. 422 (Neb. 1911); Clark v. Smith, et al., 290 N.W. 592 (Wis. 1940).  The principle is recognized by the terms of the contract here under consideration.  The first paragraph on page 4 under "(1)" of conditions of the contract provides that (after approval of the preliminary plans) "changes which would increase the architect's costs" shall entitle the architect to reimbursement for additional work.

             We therefore advise that the State Capitol Committee has authority to allow the architect additional compensation for the extra work involved in revising the plans whereby space previously designed for the state library is to be redesigned for the Department of Labor and Industries.

             Under the proposed method of compensating for this extra work, the architect would be paid an amount equal to three times the drafting costs attributable to such revision in plans.  As this is a method included in the schedule of fees adopted by the Washington State Chapter of American Institute of Architects it would appear to be supported by custom.  It is, in fact, one method of compensation provided for in the contract itself (see par. 5 on page 5).  We can see no legal objection to using such method of determining compensation for extra work.

             As indicated hereinabove, the preliminary plans have been approved, and the contract provides that the architect shall thereafter be reimbursed for additional work which involves an increase in his costs.  It is therefore our opinion that the architect will be entitled to extra compensation for any changes in the preliminary plans as heretofore approved which will involve an increase in his costs.  From a practical standpoint, we are informed that up to the point of approval by the committee of revised preliminary drawings, changes can readily be made therein at nominal cost, if any.  However, should any further changes  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] be required after such approval has been given, the cost to the state therefor would naturally be more substantial.

             We return herewith your copy of the contract, the schedule of architects fees, copy of minutes of the committee meeting of April 23, 1953, and other documents enclosed in your letter of April 28, 1953.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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