When you employ an architect, you expect them to be just that, right? Well, that may not necessarily be the case. Our guest, Simon Howard, Head of Professional Standards at the Architects Registration Board’s, tells you what you need to know…
In the case of the word architect, the term itself is all-important. It is a legally protected title that can only be used by people who are on the UK’s Register of Architects.
Architects are regulated by law in the UK by a body, established by Parliament, called the Architects Registration Board (ARB).
It is entirely down to you to choose who you want to employ. Nonetheless, be mindful that if someone is describing themselves as an ‘architect’ they must be on the Register. If they’re not, this is a criminal offence and the perpetrator can be prosecuted.
The ARB investigates over 20 such cases a month. However, only 25% of these are reported by the public – the rest come from the profession or the regulator itself, which is a reflection of the need to raise public awareness on this important issue.
What you need to know
Beware of words such as ‘architecture consultant’ or ‘architectural practice’. These aren’t covered by the law and anyone, no matter what their qualifications or experience, can describe themselves in this way.
Next time you read the classified section of your local paper you will see adverts using these terms. Alternatively, your friend, builder or estate agent may recommend someone to you, describing them as an ‘architect’ when, in fact, they’re not.
The only exception to this is the term ‘architectural technologist’, which relates to a different profession, overseen by a body called the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).
Benefits of using a registered architect
There are benefits to using someone on the Register: architects must have undertaken substantial training; they’re required to hold insurance; and they must also act in accordance with a Code of Conduct.
Furthermore, if you aren’t happy with the services they’ve provided, you can complain to the Regulator about their conduct and competence.
Relatively speaking, complaints about architects are rare, with in the region of one in 230 architects investigated per year.
But if you’re about to employ one, take 30 seconds to see whether they’re genuine by checking they’re on the Register of Architects. Alternatively, the ARB’s website also contains some resources for consumers who are considering engaging an architect, including an online video and a ‘Meeting your Architect’ form.
By doing this, you could save yourself a lot of time, money and heartache later on.
This is a guest post by Simon Howard from the Architects Registration Board. All views expressed are Simon’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.
Have you or someone been duped by someone who you thought was an architect but who turned out not to be genuine? What did you do/they about it?