Home Construction Rye Brook couple sues architects for lack of oversight on home renovation

Rye Brook couple sues architects for lack of oversight on home renovation


A Rye Brook couple is suing an architectural firm over claims that it inadequately supervised a contractor who used unlicensed subcontractors and eventually abandoned a home renovation project.

Jonathan and Helene Rod sued Keller/Eaton Architects PC of Mamaroneck and architect Robert Keller on Sept. 18 in Westchester Supreme Court.

A year ago, the Rods hired Noonan Construction Corp. of Yonkers for a home improvement project. They had already hired Keller/Eaton to oversee construction.

rye brook home renovationThe complaint does not disclose the scope and price of the project.

The 4,496-square-foot house on Lincoln Avenue has six bedrooms and five baths, according to Zillow, and was built in 1997 on a 1.1-acre lot.

The Rods bought the property for $1.9 million in 2002, according to a county property record.

Keller/Eaton allegedly told the Rods and put in writing that Noonan had failed to supply enough skilled workers or proper materials and was using unlicensed subcontractors.

When the Rods learned of the unlicensed subcontracts in January, the complaint states, they demanded that Keller have them removed from the job site.

Keller/Eaton allegedly encouraged the Rods to permit the subcontractors to continue working and said he was unaware of a requirement that they be licensed.

At some point, “Noonan Construction walked off the project,” the complaint states, “after having failed to achieve substantial completion.”

How much work was left and how much money had been paid for the job are not disclosed in the lawsuit.

On July 29, the Rods, who are lawyers, prepared a termination notice against Noonan for alleged violations of their contract and project plans. Under the contract, the architect must certify sufficient cause to justify termination.

Then the Rods could give Noonan seven days notice, terminate the deal, take possession of the worksite and get the job finished by other means. Until the work was done, according to the complaint, Noonan would not be entitled to any payments.

But Keller/Eaton, the complaint states, refused to certify the termination notice.

The complaint does not say if any reason was given for the refusal, and Keller/Eaton and his firm did not immediately respond to a request for their side of the story.

The Rods are asking the court to compel Keller and his firm to certify the termination notice. They also are asking for unspecified damages.

The couple is represented by White Plains attorney Andrew P. Tureaud.

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  1. Were the Architects of the renovation project engaged to provide Construction Administration under their agreement with the Owners? Or was that not included? You don’t get those services if they are not included under the terms of the agreement. And did the Owner-Architect Agreement specify the exact services the Architect was to provide, including how often they would be present on the jobsite? Were the Architects, per the contract, given the responsibility of having to certify the General Contractor’s monthly payment draws before the GC was paid each month? Or did the Owner’s accept that responsibility and pay them each month without the Architect’s detailed input? If so, did the Architects go to the jobsite and observe ongoing work at the frequency stipulated and did they document the status of the work during each visit? Or were there no such requirements of the Architect? All important questions. We have found that Owners almost always do not want to pay the Architect to perform Construction Administration, thereby voiding any responsibility of the Architect for the activities of the Contractor. You get what you pay for and you can’t retroactively ask the courts to dial that back, after the Owner gets into trouble with their Contractor.


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