What Architects Need to Know About Responsible Charge

by David Del Vecchio, AIA
AIANJ Legislative & Government Affairs Chair  (L&GA)

A2023 was signed into law in New Jersey on January 11, 2016.  The bill revises the definition of “responsible charge” as it pertains to licensed professional engineers and land surveyors.  AIA New Jersey requested amendments to include architects along with the professional engineers and land surveyors included in the original language.

The original bill sought to revise the standard of supervision a professional engineer or land surveyor must give to individuals whose work affects the quality and competence of the professional services of the building design professional.  More specifically, the bill would change the definition of “responsible charge” as it pertains to architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, or land surveying work.

The bill defines “responsible charge” to mean the providing of oversight by a competent building design professional by means calculated to provide personal direction to, and quality control over, the efforts of subordinates of the licensee which directly and materially affects the quality and competence of the professional services rendered by the licensee.

The bill amends a section of law that currently lists various acts or practices engaged in by a licensed closely allied professionals that are deemed to be acts or practices in which that licensee has not rendered proper supervision.

The bill removes from this enumerated list of acts or practices contained in current law reference to the regular and continuous absence from principal office premises from which professional services are rendered, except for performance of field work or presence in a field office maintained exclusively for a specific project.

AIA New Jersey Legislative Committee was successful in having the bill amended to revise the definition of “responsible charge,” as it relates to engineers and architects, to mean the provision of regular and effective supervision by a competent professional engineer or architect, as the case may be, who shall provide personal direction to, and quality control over, the efforts of subordinates of the licensee which directly and materially affects the quality and competence of the professional services rendered by the licensee.

The amendments specify that a licensee engaged in the rendering of a limited, cursory or perfunctory review of plans or projects in lieu of providing sufficient direction to, and quality control over, the efforts of subordinates of the licensee shall be deemed not to have rendered regular and effective supervision.  Plan stamping is still plan stamping.

So while the bill allows building design professionals to provide personal direction and quality control to staff not located in the same office location, it maintains the prohibition Plan Stamping.

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