Authored by attorney J. Brandon Sieg
Unlicensed A/E employees may contribute to the design of a project so long as they are under the “direct control and personal supervision” of a licensed architect or engineer. This issue is most notably addressed in the requirement that each place of business have a “resident, responsible person” and that drawings may only be sealed if the licensed professional “exercised direct control and personal supervision the work to which [his seal] is affixed.” 18 Va. Admin Code §§ 10-20-760, -780.
These regulations were revised in November 2015, and the revisions became effective on January 1, 2016. Among the revisions is a structural change to where “direct control and personal supervision” is defined. Whereas this term previously appeared as one of many defined terms, the substantive requirements are now provided directly in the section discussing “professional responsibility.” 18 Va. Admin. Code § 10-20-740.
This revision appears to emphasize that “direct control and personal supervision” of work is not merely a prerequisite to sealing drawings. It is instead a component of a licensed A/E’s professional responsibility. All A/E’s should review these requirements.
As the responsible professional, you must be able to “clearly define your scope and degree of direct control and personal supervision” and to show how you exercised this control and supervision. For all work prepared under your supervision, you must:
The requirement to “exercise direct control” includes:
It is not sufficient to rely on your employees to develop a design and then to simply “review” their work before you stamp the drawings. Investigations by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation can arise suddenly, even on projects where you did not think there were any design issues. If you consistently exercised “direct control and personal supervision” throughout the project and documented the scope of your control and supervision, then you are more likely to have the investigation dismissed.
1 A copy of the revised regulations is available at http://register.dls.virginia.gov/details.aspx?id=5283. “Professional responsibility” is addressed in 18 Va. Admin. Code § 10-20-740.
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