Architects, Engineers and Recreation, we need the first two, to be successful in the second

No, not to tear down the wilderness, I’m talking about what we build.

In the recreation industry, we build a lot of things that our customers use: Ropes courses, zip lines, climbing walls, raft frames, etc. I see a lot of these being built by owners or by contractors who are not the correctly licensed people for the jobs. If you have clients interacting with something, you built; you better have an engineer/architect approve the plans and the construction. You also may need to have the plans approved the structure approved by the appropriate city, county, or state licensing authority.

Additionally, you may be violating city, county or state laws if the work is not approved in advance by an architect or engineer and or built by a “licensed” person/contractor.

This is hard to write because the laws are usually local in nature, so there is no uniform way to look at the issues. In the general, I’ll use the term state to mean any government entity, city, county, municipal, tax district, state or federal agency.

It does not matter what letters or made-up name is behind a person’s name when they tell you they can build your wall/course/building. Each state law requires the person who approves it be licensed by the state to plan and make sure the works is done correctly. The actual builder can be anyone in most cases, although this varies by state law. But somewhere in the process a city, county or state requires the plans be created or approved by a licensed engineer or architect.

You may also have to make sure that the city; county or state code is met and approved as well as fire code.

Why pay the extra money? Because if something goes wrong, only that license can prove you are not intentional injuring people. Here is why.

·        The architect or engineer is going to be local; you can find him to have him or her testify on your behalf. You won’t be calling a number that is not being answered in another state.

·        The license is going to give you the first defense, rather than a liability.

·        If the licensed person did screw up, they have insurance to cover you rather than a general liability policy which has holes the insurance company can use to exit the lawsuit with its money in its pocket.

·        There is probably a law or regulation that requires it. If you violate this law and do not have the plans or construction approved by the appropriate people you are negligent per se. As such, you may not have a defense to the claim, including the release you use.

·        The licensed local person is going to know the laws and regulations you must meet. You should not have a government inspector show up later and close you down.

It might be a problem if you are first climbing wall/gym/ropes course the licensing bureau has ever seen. You may need to bring photographs, videos and other examples to show what you are doing.

You may also have to do the same if you are hiring a licensed contractor to explain to them what you are trying to accomplish.

Either way, in the long run, it is the only legal way to go.

It is better than jail time, by the way. Yes, if you have not correctly licensed your structure, you could be facing zoning issues and violation of other laws, which could result in fines. In this example, the owner of this tree house ended up in court. See Golden takes aim at elaborate treehouseor Fight over Golden tree house set to go to court.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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