Architects are often asked by friends and family to undertake ‘private work’ (also known as PJs – private jobs), usually at a discounted rate. In these circumstances, it is important to notify all parties affected (including the employer) of the situation and risks involved, including a possible lack of any PI cover.
Where these projects are relatively small scale and for immediate family members, this is often overlooked or tolerated by some firms. But regardless, this approach does carry some potential risk to the company should something go wrong. It would be prudent for firms to clarify their position about private work with all employees. Note that larger, more prudent, member firms expressly exclude employees from using company equipment, time or property for private work.
Basically, private work undertaken by individuals employed as an architect or graduate by an architectural company using company equipment/ computer/ e-mail accounts/ etc during normal company time risks exposing the employer being joined in any subsequent litigation. In a recent case, the issue was far more serious, involving a non-residential project of significant value with the employee found to have misled the employer as to the project status.