The perfect set of plans has yet to be drawn, yet you could be held to that standard if you are not careful.

It is important to realize that the law does not require you to be perfect. The law only requires that you perform your services with the ordinary degree of skill and care that would be used by other reasonably competent practitioners of the same discipline under similar circumstances and conditions. Regardless, this bar is often raised whether it is by an uneducated client who“expects” perfection, or a contractual provision that requires it.

Managing client expectations is the key to solving the first problem. Some clients, especially the unsophisticated ones, simply expect your work to be flawless. Educating your clients about the complexity of a design project and the fact that there will be glitches will help the client establish reasonable expectations about the design process.

The second issue deals with your contract. It isn’t uncommon to see a provision that reads something like “Design professional will perform services in accordance with the highest professional standards”. This is not only unattainable, it is uninsurable.

If your client asks you to sign a contract that requires you to perform to a level beyond that required by law, you should make every effort to negotiate a reasonable provision tied to the standard of care.

Communication is the key to avoiding litigation. After all, the only time there is litigation is when the parties to a dispute stop talking and pay someone else to talk for them.

Educating your client regarding the appropriate standard of care and negotiating a reasonable contract will go a long way toward eliminating confusion, and the chance of disagreement and litigation.