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  • Frank Gucciardo

The Role of the Architect and Expeditors in the Permitting Process.

Updated: Feb 19

Titles of “Architect” and “Expeditor” swirl around the residential market and it becomes tough for the homeowner to understand who does what and who to hire.  Let’s start with some basic definitions.

The Role of the Architect

Defining Architectural Services

As per the NYS Education Department’s Office of the Professions: “An architect licensed and registered in New York provides services related to the design and construction of buildings and the spaces around them, where the safeguarding of life, health, property, and public welfare is concerned. These design and construction services typically include the following:

  • consultation

  • evaluation

  • planning

  • preliminary studies

  • designs

  • construction documents and management

  • administration of construction contracts[1]

Most New York licensed and registered architects have completed a combination of 12 years of education/experience credit and then passed the 33 1/2-hour national architecture licensing examination.[2]

The Expeditor's Expertise

Navigating the Bureaucracy

An expeditor is a special breed, and we hold good ones in high regard.  The expeditor many times has great personal relationships with the local building department.  They are familiar with the bureaucracy, the paperwork, and the personalities behind the desk at the local building department.  Their fees are never quite enough for what they do, and they are often the unsung heroes of the permitting process.

Collaborative Efforts

Architects and Expeditors Working Together

As a licensed architecture firm, we have spent many hours wrestling with the bureaucracy and have found that finding the right expeditor with the right experience in a specific Town or Village is worth its weight in gold.  In our practice, we work hand in hand with the right 3rd party expeditors for the Town or Village where the project is located.

We take responsibility for the legal scope of work that the architect has been trained for and stay out of the paperwork.  We stay in our lane.  Conversely, the expeditor stays in their lane and specializes in where their experience is amplified.    

An expeditor can work for an architect, but an architect is never on staff with the expeditor.

If permits are required for residential renovation projects, the local building department can only accept architectural plans and specifications signed and stamped with the architect's seal.  Furthermore, you must enter a professional relationship directly with the licensed architectural firm, which the licensed professional must own.

This means that if a vendor is not a licensed architect, they may not call themselves an architect or imply they are. If they are not a licensed architect or not currently registered with the State Education Department, they may not provide architectural services to a customer or offer architectural services, such as telling the customer that they will get an architect to do the design. This means they cannot advertise or call themselves by such titles as architectural draftsman or the like. It also means they cannot perform, or offer to perform, any or all phases of architectural design, drafting, or similar services.[3]

Legal Considerations and Hiring Tips

Ensuring Compliance and Professional Integrity

As a consumer, you must educate yourself and hire correctly.  Ask for a license number and confirm it at the Office of the Professions:

Often, a homeowner is under pressure because a stop work order has been issued where valuable time and money are at risk.  Sometimes, a real estate transaction is held up because of an open Certificate of Occupancy, and a maintain existing conditions permit is needed to legalize an existing structure.  Projects like these seem simple enough, but a non-licensed expeditor is not allowed to hold this type of contract.  Remember, an expeditor works for or alongside an architect and not the other way around.

The practice of attempting to have construction documents "legitimized" with the seal of a licensed professional after an unlicensed individual has prepared them is illegal.  Such practice is known as "rubber stamping," and the licensee is guilty of professional misconduct (Sec.29.3(a)(3).) of the Rules of the Board of Regents.[4]

Ensure that a licensed architect is the owner of the firm you hire to assist you in lifting the stop work order to have the existing structure legalized.   Call PKAD Architecture and Design today at (516) 828 – 8040 or click here, and we’ll contact you.  We have a rapid response division to assist in lifting work orders and will have staff at your property in 3 business days or less to get you moving again at fair, transparent pricing.

Need Professional Architectural or Expeditor Services?

For a more detailed explanation of the roles of the architect and expeditor, click here, and you’ll be redirected to our podcast “Shop Talk” on YouTube, where we have two fantastic expeditors as guests on the show.

[3] AIA New York State 2010, Architecture: What's Legal, What's Not

[4] AIA New York State 2010, Architecture: What's Legal, What's Not

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