As a journalist I don’t exactly come out top in surveys of the ‘most trusted professions’ but I wonder if these surveys have ever included architects. I’m struggling to find anyone who has a good word to say about them. It’s not the quality of the designs that people moan about, it’s the poor business skills and unfortunately the reputation of the good architects is being tarnished by the bad behaviour of the majority.
A colleague at work employed an architect to build her extension. A year later he sent them an unexpected bill for £1,500 for a structural survey which he ‘forgot’ to include in the original bill and several site visits which they didn’t ask for and he didn’t seek approval for. A friend in Moray spent so much time chasing her architect she says it would have taken less effort to project-manage the build herself. The list goes on and on.
I have fallen out with my architect and I am now finding myself in an interesting situation. I look at the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)website to see what advice might be on it. There isn’t even a link on the front page to a section which explains how to complain. I call them for advice and am told, “We can’t advise members of the public, only architects.” Imagine if you had a complaint about your doctor and you rang the General Medical Council and they told you, ‘Sorry, we can’t advise members of the public, only doctors.’ I take it from this that RIBA won’t impartially represent my interests and look at the website of the ARB (Architects Registration Board) which is more user-friendly. I have lodged a complaint and we’ll see what happens.
Journalists don’t exactly have a great reputation either, but if architects don’t get their house in order the only losers will be architects. RIBA needs to maintain standards so that architects are valued and people use them. In tight financial times the reputation architects currently have is not one the profession can afford.