If Delhi Development Authority’s proposed new building byelaws are implemented, architects, structural engineers, construction companies, contractors and site engineers building three-storey flats or bigger shopping complexes may be held responsible for any structural flaws or defects that occur within 10 years of the building being constructed.
As per the existing Unified Building Bye-Laws 2016 which were notified in March 2016, architects and others were held liable for latent defects only for plots with 20,000 square metre and above. As a result, nearly 80% of the buildings remained out of the ambit of the latent defects liabilityö clause which made the life of architects and engineers that much easier. However, the proposed byelaws would now hold responsible all contractors and even site supervisors of defects in a building constructed on plot size of 750 square metres and upwards.
Earlier higher plot size was fixed keeping in mind India’s attempt to climb up the ladder of Ease of Doing Business rankings. However, the Centre has now moved the amendment reducing the plot size.
Insurance companies appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of this proposed change. Now the architects would be forced to take decennial professional liability insurance to cover for such liability. This is in line with international practices where architects take professional indemnity insurance to safeguard themselves against any future litigation involving structural defects accusations.