RQ Law Blog

SB 161 Sunset Review

SB 161 and the Sunset Review of the State Board of Licensure

Architects, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors are regulated under the Department of Regulatory Agencies Board. As with most regulatory agencies in Colorado, the Board will “sunset [be terminated]” unless the Legislature agrees to extend the statute authorizing the Board. Typically, if the Boards are continued, changes in the statute authorizing the Board are made and their regulatory functioning is continued for 11 years. This year, the Board for Architects, Engineers and Surveyors was reviewed and a bill introduced to continue the regulatory functions of that Board. Senate Bill 161 has passed both chambers and should be signed into law by the Governor in the coming days.


Overall, the statutory authority and responsibilities of the Board were re-enacted intact, although there were changes to the statute and the Board’s authority of note. Perhaps the most significant change, from a malpractice standpoint, was the expanded requirement placed on architects to report ANY malpractice claims settled or reduced to judgment. Under the former statutory scheme, engineers and surveyors could be disciplined for failing to report to the Board any malpractice claim against them or a business they own, “that is settled or in which a judgment is rendered, within 60 days of the effective date of such settlement or judgment, if such claim concerned engineering services performed or supervised by such engineer.” However, architects only had to notify the Board of any judgment or settlement involving issues of the life safety of a building’s occupants. Under a new statutory provision, 12-25-312 C.R.S., architects must report the same information that engineers and surveyors currently have to.


It is somewhat curious why this became important to the State, as malpractice carriers are legally responsible for reporting architect malpractice settlements or judgments under §10-1-122. Presumably, the Board will not see any judgments or settlements reported which had not been unless the architect was without errors and omissions coverage. We also note that the duty on carriers is limited to architects, and does not require the carrier to report engineer or land surveyor malpractice settlements/judgments.


Another significant change is that a professional land surveyor who prepares an Improvement Location Certificate [ILC] now has to use statutorily required language on the certificate. The surveyor is liable for the information on an ILC, but only as the information existed on the day it was prepared. An ILC is a description of what is on the property, not an exact description of the property itself and is meant for use by a specific client. However, the State was concerned that a person who obtains a copy of the ILC after its initial use might have no way of knowing all of this was the case. To avoid any confusion and harm to consumers, the ILC disclaimer requires the following language: “This certificate is valid for use only by … (individual or firm) … and describes the parcel appearance on (insert date).”


A third change is that the statute limits the use of derivative terms in advertising to ensure that only qualified individuals represent themselves to consumers as architects. There is one curious provision which we will examine in a later blog which defines the practice of architecture as including “administering construction contracts.”  


Finally, the Board will be promulgating rules clarifying retention requirements for sealed documents by all three professions.


There are other changes/amendments to the statute , including minor changes to the letter of admonition and letter of clarification provisions; clarification that the responsibility for the created documents is with the individual professional and not with the responsibility of the entity created. There are also minor changes to the licensing process, the requirements of sealing documents and increased authority is given to the Board to ensure that people offering the services of architecture, engineering and surveying are, in fact, licensed in Colorado.


Overall, however, the renewal of the Board of Architect, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors reflects the general consensus among professional organizations, builders and the general public that the Board is fulfilling its purpose consistent with its statutory mandate and thus is authorized to continue in the future in a similar manner.


For questions or more information contact Jeff Ruebel or Casey Quillen at Ruebel & Quillen, LLC, 1-888-989-1777.

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