Appointing 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.
- Searchable directory of RIBA chartered UK practices.
- RIBA chartered members directory.
- RIBA client design advisers' directory.
 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.
- 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.
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:
- Acknowledge the architect doesn't warrant: planning permission to be granted / compliance with construction cost / programme for such matters as client variations and other factors beyond their control.
 Standard forms of appointment
There are a range of standard forms of appointment available:
- RIBA Standard Agreement 2010 (S- 10- A) – Architect.
- RIBA Concise Agreement (C- 10- A) – Architect.
- RIBA Domestic Project Agreement (D- 10- A) – Architect (when using intermediate or minor building contracts on domestic projects). An agreement with a consumer client is subject to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.
- RIBA Sub- Consultant Agreement (SC- 10) – where one consultant appoints another to perform part of their services.
- RIBA Letter contract (domestic or commercial version) – for small works.
- 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:
- Choice to use them is matter of professional principle, commercial judgment and negotiating skill
- Obtain legal advice and consult PII broker.
- Check there is only a 'duty of care' provision and not 'fitness for purpose'.
- Check warranties / payment provisions, copyright / termination / disputes
- The Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (Construction Act) should apply as long as the client is not consumer client, ensuring that payments are made promptly throughout the supply chain and that disputes are resolved swiftly.
- Any bespoke contract should cover the same terms as the RIBA appointment to satisfy the code of conduct.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Appointing consultants.
- Architects fees.
- Collaborative practices.
- Collateral warranties
- Consultant team.
- Consultant's proposals.
- Design liability.
- Employer's information requirements.
- Fee proposals.
- Framework agreements.
- Integrated Supply Team.
- Letter of appointment.
- Pre-qualification questionnaire.
- Procurement route.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance clause in conditions of engagement.
- Professional indemnity insurance.
- Proprietary information.
- Request for proposals.
- Schedule of services.
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