Last edited 13 May 2016

Appointing an architect

For more general information about the appointment of consultants, see: Appointing consultants.

For information about fees, see: Architect's fees.


[edit] Finding an architect

Architects may be selected by a process of:

  • Recommendation, for example, one consultant may recommend others, which can save time for the client and make it easier to establish collaborative working practices (it is important to set out requirements for collaborative practices during the appointment procedure to ensure that the consultant team works effectively together throughout the project).
  • Research and interview.
  • Open competition (with or without design).
  • Selective competition (with or without design).
  • An existing relationship or framework agreement.

Search engines are available from the RIBA to help find architects:

[edit] ARB 4.4

The Architects Registration Board code of conduct requires that there is a written agreement before undertaking work which includes:

  • Details of the contracting parties.
  • The scope of work.
  • The fee and the method for calculating it.
  • Allocation of responsibilities.
  • Constraints / limitations on the responsibilities of the parties.
  • Provision for suspension.
  • A statement of adequate PII cover
  • Identification of dispute resolution methods.

[edit] Architect's obligations

The architect has a duty of care:

  • To exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence in accordance with the normal standards of the architects profession in performing the services and discharging the architects obligations.
  • Provide adequate professional, financial and technical resources. [ARB 4.2]
  • A duty of care in tort.

A duty to inform:

  • The client about progress and any issues that may affect the brief, construction cost, programme or quality.
  • The client of the need to appoint others to perform work in connection with the project.


  • To collaborate with others named in project data or who's appointment is foreseeable and to integrate information into thier work.


  • To act on behalf of client in matters set out in agreement.
  • To seek client approval to amend design, terminate others employment or enter the client into contract with others.

[edit] Clients obligations

Information and decisions:

  • The client should supply an initial statement of requirements and priorities, a brief, construction cost and programme.
  • Provide all information in their possession or reasonably obtainable necessary for the proper and timely performance of services. The architect shall be able to rely upon this information.
  • Give decisions and approvals and take such action for the proper and timely performance of services.


  • If the architect has responsibility to direct/ coordinate or instruct others. Instructions should be issued through the architect. They will not be responsible for other instructions issued.

Time and Cost:

[edit] Standard forms of appointment

There are a range of standard forms of appointment available:

Clients may not want to use the RIBA standard appointment but the architect should consider it as they are:

  • Bound by the same principles set out in the ARB Code of Conduct.
  • Provide clarity, comfort and protection to both parties.
  • Their day to day operation is understood and is tried and tested in the courts.
  • Avoid misunderstandings and potential disputes
  • Establish a fair and reasonable allocation of risk.
  • Incorporate standard industry practice within a legal framework.
  • Agreed with professional indemnity insurance (PII) underwriters.
  • Aligned with current working practices, legislation and procurement methods.
  • Provide a flexible system of components, suitable for a wide range of projects.
  • Complementary to the CIC pan-professional scope of services appointment agreements for multi-disciplinary teams on major building projects.
  • Include provisions for fee adjustments, late fee terms and time frames
  • Provide for alternative dispute resolution
  • Clearly outline client and architects obligations

If a bespoke agreement is required:

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki