Architect Jennifer Morgenthau of Newington Blunders

We hired Architect Jenni Morgenthau of Newington to design a two car garage with a room above it. Unfortunately she botched the design as the garage was not wide enough to accommodate two vehicles with enough room to enter or exit them! We didn't discover this until the construction was well under way. The foundation had to be demolished. Oddly she never owned up to the mistake. Even after discovering the error she even insisted that her design was sound and that the project should proceed. Strangely she never bothered to visit the job site or take any measurements. Here is a page from her design and construction drawings: Notice the width of the garage as designed is 18'8". Issues with the zoning side yard set back requirements further reduced the width of the garage by half a foot. Neither the contractor nor architect Jennifer Morgenthau seemed to be aware that the design was flawed and that the further shrinkage of the garage width was a matter that should be discussed with me. On Friday March 24 the contractor texted me to tell me the excavator was coming by to park his equipment. I did not hear from him again until after the excavation was dug, forms laid and foundation poured on Wednesday April 12. That's when I noticed how narrow the outside wall appeared. I then took action to halt the construction. Had the contractor or architect laid out with rope or chalk lines what the footprint of the foundation would look like before they dug and poured the foundation. Had they done this or just lay cones in a parking lot the width of the design they would have seen that it would be nearly impossible for a person (especially a senior) to squeeze in or out of the cars inside this "two car garage".

Here is what it looked like during excavation while the footings were being poured:

Once I saw the foundation walls I figured out the foundation was shorter than the design AND that the design was flawed I took action to halt the construction and shared my concerns with the contractor and architect. The architect was still oblivious to the error in her design. In fact she was still encouraging me to continue with the project, having never visited the actual job site. Here is part of her correspondence with me on April 15, 2023:

Hi Guy,
After speaking with you and with Jon, I thought it best to reiterate something. I fully support the decisions Jon is making in regard to the setback lines and to squaring off the building in the field. Every addition/renovation project has situations such as this where the actual dimensions in the field differ slightly with the dimensions on paper. That's just how it works. We, as architects, produce drawings that are as close as possible to the existing conditions, with the understanding that there are certainly situations where discoveries in the field dictate modifications. It's standard practice. Jon is absolutely doing the right thing here as the builder.

Shortly after receiving this note, I spoke with the architect Jennifer Morgenthau on the phone who seemed stunned to hear that she made a big mistake. Have not heard from her since.

Here is what we had to do to remove the foundation: