No Need to Keep “As-Builts”? Think Again.

No Need to Keep “As-Builts”?  Think Again.

Arizona Society of Civil Engineers Newsletter, October 2013
By Roger Owers, Ph.D., P.E., J.D.

Contractors and engineers are often required by project owners to keep record drawings.  Also known as “As-Builts,” these record drawings help the project owner tremendously when it comes to future work.  When the project owner wants to make future improvements in the road, building, bridge, or whatever, the As-Builts provide the future designer with a good idea of what may be hidden underground, behind the walls, etc.

Arizona law also has something to say about As-Builts.  In 2007, in the midst of a trend of converting apartment complexes to condominiums, Arizona added some requirements pertaining to As-Builts in the sale of apartment complexes.

This law, found in A.R.S. § 33-1330 and A.R.S. §§ 40-360.21 to 40-360.32 has two dimensions.  First, the law covers sales of apartment complexes from one landlord to another, including transfers of apartment complexes from landlords to buyers who will convert the apartments to condominiums.  Second, the law covers landlords and successor landlords of apartment complexes.

In a sale of an apartment complex, the seller must now deliver to the buyer, at closing, a significant amount of documentation regarding the complex.  This documentation includes the As-Builts:

  • all available plans, drawings, and records regarding underground facilities;
  • plans, drawings, surveys, and plats of the property;
  • all records pertaining to tenant security deposits; and
  • complete files for each tenant of the property at closing.

The new law also requires successor landlords to maintain the records of underground facilities on their property, mark the locations of the underground facilities when requested to do so by an excavator (e.g., underground construction contractor), refer to the records when marking the locations, and provide updated contact information to one-call utility location agencies such as Blue Stake (contacted by calling 1-800-STAKE-IT (1-800-263-1100)).

A seller who fails to deliver the installation records of underground utilities installed after December 31, 2006 is liable for all damages caused by the failure to deliver the information.  Examples of such damages include the expenses incurred by the buyer or other successor landlords to obtain or create the installation records.

The legislature also places liability on landlords—including successor landlords—for damages incurred by an excavator resulting from the landlord’s failure to mark underground facilities when properly requested by an excavator to do so.  In other words, damages incurred by an excavator who hits unmarked utilities, through no fault of the excavator, can be passed on to a landlord who failed to properly locate underground utilities.

Therefore, landlords must obtain and maintain As-Builts from any and all entities who work on the property, such as architects, engineers, contractors, land surveyors, utility companies, etc.  Preparing As-Builts requires an extra, time-consuming step during the construction or remodeling process.  It is tempting to postpone–indefinitely–the task of preparing As-Builts.  But, engineers, contractors, surveyors, utility companies, etc., who work on apartment complexes should provide As-Builts to the landlord as part of their work.  And landlords of apartment complexes should insist upon it.

These statues can be found at http://www.azleg.state.az.us/arizonarevisedstatutes.asp.

This article is intended for general information only.  It should not be construed as legal advice with respect to any particular situation.  Readers should not act upon information contained in this article without first consulting their lawyer.

Roger S. Owers is a commercial real estate professional with Keyser LLC and is a lawyer with the Kaibab Law Offices of Roger S. Owers LLC.  Roger holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering, is a registered professional civil engineer, holds a real estate license, and is a licensed attorney.  He can be reached via e-mail at rowers@kaibabllc.com or www.kaibabllc.com.  He can also be found on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerowers/.

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