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 WOODBRIDGE, N.J., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- AIA New Jersey -- a professional organization that represents approximately 1,600 licensed architects in New Jersey -- has firmly opposed legislation that would allow builders to provide residential design services, it was announced today by 1993 AIA NJ President Robert Lee, AIA.
 S-1071, introduced by Senator Andrew Ciesla (R-10), and its companion bill sponsored by Assemblyman George Geist (R-4) recently passed in the Senate and the Assembly. The bill is expected to be signed into law in early February by Governor Florio.
 After strongly opposing the initial legislation, AIA New Jersey's representatives met with the New Jersey Builders Association -- which has backed the bill -- the Department of Consumer Affairs, and members of the State Board of Architects and the Society of Registered Architects. The meeting resulted in a minor modification to the legislation.
 The legislation allows:
 (1) Builders registered under "The New Home Warranty and Builders' Registration Act" to advertise, offer or perform design services in the construction of one- or two-family detached homes;
 (2) Home improvement contractors to advertise, offer or perform design services to the owner occupants of one- or two-family detached dwellings for demolitions, enlargements or alterations.
 Such services could be offered by a registered builder or home improvement contractor until they must apply for a construction permit according to the State Uniform Construction Code Act.
 "We urge Senator Ciesla to delete a paragraph that would allow registered builders and home improvement contractors to provide architectural services," noted Lee.
 "However, even with this revision, we are deeply concerned that these bills diminish the safeguards afforded the public by current laws, and that the legislation will seriously undermine for homeowners the benefits of working with architects early in residential design projects."
 Architects' concerns:
 -- Jeremiah Ford III, AIA, partner at the Princeton-based firm Ford, Farewell, Mills & Gatsch, commented with concern on the legislation:
 "We believe strongly in the value of working as partners with builders, in a team that includes the homeowner and realtor. However, the architect is the homeowner's advocate. We bring a dispassionate, independent perspective to home design because we aren't selling either the building or the land. Architectural involvement early in the design process insures a home that is safe, structurally sound and functionally and aesthetically pleasing. We contribute our unique training in areas such as zoning criteria, energy conservation, and compliance with construction code requirements."
 Ford also noted that the "visual and functional disarray" of the many of the nation's cities and towns reflected the consequences of not including architects more centrally in early design planning.
 -- Michael Sackler, AIA, whose practice is based in Tenafly, finds the legislation objectionable and said it "obscures the boundaries between builders and architects" and "puts public health and safety in serious jeopardy."
 -- Peter Pagani, AIA, of Sterba Pagani & Associates in Totowa, and 1992 president of the Architects League, the northern chapter of AIA New Jersey, contributed substantially to the original opposition draft published by AIA New Jersey:
 "From the outset, design of any construction project takes into concerns issues outside the arena of the actual building -- such as zoning, function, human use and other areas that are central to architectural training," noted Pagani. "I don't see the benefit to the public in the long term in this bill: indeed, it undoes the very laws designed to protect the homeowner from risk." (Currently architectural liability for projects is approximately 10 years, while the standard home warranty issued by builders expires after one year.)
 -- A Pennington homeowner, who recently used an architect's services to renovate and provide an addition for his 1936 home, said, "The best financial investment we made in the whole project was in our architect, who saw possibilities neither we nor our builder even thought of. The architect's contribution has greatly enhanced the potential resale value of this house, and substantially enhanced our enjoyment as residents."
 Lee further expressed AIA New Jersey's concern that the proposed legislation does not protect an unknowing homeowner from designs presented by a builder or home improvement contractor that fail to comply with the State Uniform Construction Code:
 "Designs prepared by unlicensed persons may give homeowners misleading and unrealistic expectations about the feasibility, safety and cost of the construction."
 Founded in 1896, AIA/New Jersey is a chapter and region of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). A not-for-profit organization, AIA/NJ was established to provide professional, educational, social and legislative programs for its membership, which currently includes approximately 1,600 licensed architects and planning professionals throughout the state. The Society also provides a free referral service to its members and the public including schools, universities, business and the press, as well as civic and other professional organizations in New Jersey.
 For additional information, contact:
 -- Robert Lee, AIA, 1993 president, AIA NJ, 908-636-5680 or 215-687-4145
 -- Katharine Shuler, executive director, AIA NJ, 908-636-5680
 -- Ronald Bertone, AIA, president-elect, AIA NJ, 908-750-1030
 -- Michael Sackler, AIA, Tenafly, 201-569-6889
 -- Jeremiah Ford III, AIA, Princeton, 609-452-1777
 -- Peter Pagani, AIA, Totowa, 201-790-4200
 -0- 1/29/93
 /CONTACT: Katharine Watts of the Watts Partnership, 609-497-0200, or fax, 609-497-4615, for AIA New Jersey/

CO: AIA New Jersey; The American Institute of Architects ST: New Jersey IN: CST SU: LEG

GK-LS -- NY071 -- 0904 01/29/93 16:08 EST
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Date:Jan 29, 1993

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