Last edited 27 Nov 2017

The role of architects

The term 'architect' has been in existence for many centuries, however the architect as its own recognised profession is a relatively modern concept dating back only to the mid 16th century. The term and what it represents has evolved through history to its current form in which architects are seen as highly-qualified and educated professionals. See The History of the architect as a profession for more information.

The term ‘architect’ is now protected by the Architects Act 1997. Only qualified individuals that are registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) can offer their services as architects. However, the same services can be provided by people that are not architects as long as they do not claim to be architects.

Very broadly, the roles performed by an architect might include:

However, some of these services will only be undertaken by the architect if they are specifically identified in their appointment documents, and will not be included within the architect's fee on all projects. These are described as 'other services' on some forms of appointment and might include:

Architects are also bound by the ARB Code of conduct. This requires, amongst other things that architects:

  • Maintain their professional service and competence in areas relevant to their professional work.
  • Maintain adequate and appropriate professional indemnity insurance.
  • Obtain a written agreement before undertaking work which adequately cover:
  1. the contracting parties;
  2. the scope of the work:
  3. the fee or method of calculating it;
  4. who will be responsible for what;
  5. any constraints or limitations on the responsibilities of the parties;
  6. the provisions for suspension or termination of the agreement, including any legal rights of cancellation;
  7. confirmation of adequate and appropriate insurance cover;
  8. the existence of any Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes that the contract is subject to and how they might be accessed;
  9. details of the architect’s complaints-handling procedure;
  10. confirmation that the architect is registered with the Architects Registration Board and that they are subject to the code.

Architects may also be (but do not need to be) members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), in which case they will also be bound by the RIBA Code of Professional Conduct.

The ability of an architect to provide services will depend on their level of qualification, experience and specialisation. As well as qualified architects, architectural practices will commonly employ:

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