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UK Axes Architects in Dues Dustup

Monday, January 12, 2015

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A row between British architects and their professional board has erupted for a second straight year, with hundreds of professionals finding themselves cast off the registry rolls.

At issue: an annual “retention fee” of £107 (about $162 USD).

Nearly 2,000 British architects were booted from the country’s professional register Thursday (Jan. 8) for failing to pay their dues on time, according to the British Architects Registration Board.

© / LDprod

About 34,000 architects are listed on the UK's public register of architects. The organization's policy on cutting those who fail to pay fees on time has been criticized.

The architects had until Dec. 31, 2014, to pay the retention fee to remain listed on the UK Register of Architects. Dues notifications were sent out in July, reports said.

Critics say that the cost of reinstatement is a “money-making exercise” and that some architects may be refusing to pay in retaliation, according to reports.

2nd Year of Cuts

This is the second year in a row that the board has kicked off a significant number of architects for non-payment.

In January 2014, the board removed some 2,043 designers. This year, 1,824 were culled, which represents about five percent of the total.

Based in London, the ARB is the UK’s statutory regulator of architects. It keeps a public register, searchable online, of about 34,000 architects.

The Cost of Rejoining

Rejoining the listing costs £162 (about $245 USD)—made up of the retention payment, a £35 administration charge and a £20 fee. That fee was reduced from £170 last year, due to “ongoing streamlining of processes.”

In the United States, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) charges $1,500 for an initial certificate application and $225 for annual renewal. Reactivation fees for lapsed registrations range from $250 up to $1,500.

Certificate Application Fee: $1,500

In the UK, ARB dismisses the suggestion that it is enriching itself on the professional fees.

© / shironosov

Registered architects have met ARB's standards for education, training and practice.

In a statement, ARB’s interim registrar and chief executive Karen Holmes said the organization did not profit.

She also said that the board had beefed up its efforts last year to remind architects to pay their fee, enlisting the support of various professional bodies and members of the media.

“As a result, 95 percent of architects have paid their retention fee,” Holmes said.

Fee Policy

ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel maintains that the fee is “driven by the principles of fairness to architects and clarity for consumers.”

The “fee is used to fund the regulation of architects to maintain standards in the profession for the benefit of architects and the public alike,” she said in a statement.

Each architect listed on the register has “met the standards that we set for education, training and practice,” the ARB notes on its website.

Dissenting Opinions

The registration removals have outraged architects and others who take issue with the board, its fee policy, due dates and removal implications.

“ARB’s primary responsibility is to keep a Register of Architects,” reader David Berridge commented in Building Design.

“Those ‘booted off’ are still Architects complying with all other technical requirements. It is outrageous of ARB to take people off the register only days after the payment is due. As far as I know, no survey has been made to see why so many failed to pay, either this year or last.”

flying pounds
© / dibrova

Rejoining the register costs £162 (about $245 USD)—made up of the retention payment, a £35 administration charge and a £20 fee.

Others call the Dec. 31 deadline a “ridiculous one.” 

Commenter Mr. Warthog said, “[d]on't have a deadline when the whole industry is on shutdown!”

Some are more concerned about the implications for failing to pay.

“What are the consequences if you are part way through a project and you are kicked off the register—do you  have to explicitly tell your client, and everyone else who is relevant, that you’re no longer on it?” asks Jonathan Davies.

‘Just Pay on Time’

Still, ARB and its policy have supporters.

Reader Getafix says, “The carping about ARB is so tedious. Just pay on time. The surcharge on rejoining is there to 'encourage' people to pay on time—perfectly reasonable. Those caught out will doubtless not repeat their mistake again.

“People seem to forget that ARB was set up at the suggestion of the profession itself, and yet ever since its creation architects have spent inordinate amounts of time and energy criticising it. If half as much energy went into improving standards of education, training, professional service and the general standing of architects, then most the issues ARB spends its time addressing would be solved.”


Tagged categories: Architects; Associations; Business matters; Europe; Good Technical Practice; Regulations

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