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.

  • revor

    I have had problems with my architect mainly to do with lack of attention to detail which I would have thought they would have been good at. They sent a wrong drawing to the structural engineer that has caused no end of issues, specified a beam between the extension and original house which would have meant we would have had to duck under it; this resulted in extra expense in designing a new roof with girder trusses. Dimensioned drawings incorrectly and we only found out thing were wrong after half the extension was up. The original submission to building control was so full of mistakes that to have built it the way they had documented it would have contravened building regs. But then having paid a plan fee to building control they themselves passed it and showed no embarrassment when I pointed out the errors they missed. Some of them were pretty fundamental such as type of wall ties and size of foundations. What had caused this was the architects had cut and pasted the spec from another job for a different client. I thought of making a formal complaint to RIBA but given the hassle it would take, and time out from my build project I decided against it.

  • George Graham

    Thank you elanor, one of the best article i have read on this topic.

  • Anonymous

    As a CSH assessor, I read Mark Brinkley’s article with great interest, and share a lot of his views. It is extremely difficult at times to get contractors, developers and even design consultants up-to-speed with a very demanding and, by definition, onerous compliance with what many regard as unreasonable criteria.
    However, far from the Code becoming redundant, an increasing number of local authority planning departments are now applying a condition requiring at least Code 3 for all new residential consents. Does Mark have any grounds for believing the Code will be phased out in favour of beefing up the Building Regs?

  • Anonymous

    From the number and nature of the errors you report, it sounds as though you may well have a valid claim against your architect for negligence. Merely complaining to the RIBA is likely to have little effect, but they will advise you on how to go about making such a claim.
    As with all legal disputes, it will incur costs that may not be recoverable if your claim fails, so it’s a judgement call. Claims are usually decided on the basis of whether the architect acted with reasonable skill and care (they don’t have to be perfect), and the level of financial loss you have suffered as a result.
    It may be better in the first instance to address a formal written complaint, listing your reasons for dissatisfaction, to the principals of the architectural practice, if you have not already done so, and proceed in light of their response.

  • AccuRite Roofing

    Thank you elanor, a geat article. I will be refering to this for my business AccuRite Roofing Blackburn

  • smileymikey

    We are waiting for reserved matters to be agreed (one week overdue!!) but the site on which we will build has an electricity pole where the house will be. We will need to get it moved to the side of the plot (about 7 metres) but are constantly hearing about how it will cost thousands. Surely SP will benefit from our future usage of the power and should not be so difficult? Any suggestions to cut costs etc?

  • Samuel Joy


    This previous discussion thread may be of use

    I was also going to suggest the more recent (last) pages of this thread

    however I see you’ve already been on it (unless there are two smileymikeys).

    I hope these can help in some way,

    Kind regards,
    Sam Joy (Online Editor)

  • smileymikey

    Thank you Sam. I had lost the latter link and can now move forward on this. (Yes it was me originally)

  • Samuel Joy

    No worries, hope it doesn’t cost you too much.

  • peter ward

    I have a client who was sold fraudulent damp proofing. Her letter to RIBA is reproduced below. They have consistently refused to answer – despite the fact that these con artists are on the RIBA approved supplier list! So RIBA is promoting con artists on their website, and complaints about their ‘approved suppliers’ are just ignored – so my vote is to ignore any RIBA approved suppliers – they aren’t worth the paper they are on. This is her letter – which RIBA have consistently ignored.

    Dear RIBA,

    I am writing in relation to a company you have on your website called Hydrotelk Wallguard:

    We had a damp proofing solution installed that uses porous tubes externally to our property to resolve our damp problem. We have since discovered this method of damp proofing in ineffective and totally fraudulent. It is also not Agrement Accredited.

    The company that supplied this system is called Hydrotek Wallguard. The product is as follows:

    We have had ongoing issues with this company for over 5 years. We have three independent reports that confirm that the damp proof course they installed is ineffective and that the system was installed onto already

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