Competence Reviews - Background Information

The standard
Under Rule 21 of the Registered Architects Rules 2006, the NZRAB must apply two specific tests when deciding every five years whether an architect is still fit to practice. These are:

  • that the architect still meets the minimum standard for registration
  • that the architect has taken reasonable steps to maintain the currency of his or her architectural knowledge and skills.

Assessing the application
Whether or not the architect "still meets the minimum standard" is assessed in the first instance by looking at his or her work record. Typically, an architect who is practicing full-time will have little difficulty meeting this requirement. Architects demonstrate "reasonable steps to stay current" by providing their CPD records, or information about other professional development activities they have done.

However, where the evaluation panel assessing the application remains unconvinced that these two requirements have been met, they will seek further information. Usually, this is sufficient to satisfy their concerns.

Should the evaluation panel still have sufficient concern, they will require that the architect presents for a face-to-face competence review interactive assessment which will be undertaken by two trained registration assessors who are experienced architects.

Sufficient CPD?
A CPD points target has been established for architects to aspire to. In most cases, this is 1000 CPD points, including 100 points in each of five classifications, these being Design, Documentation, Project Management, Practice Management, and core aspects of the practice of architecture, over five years.

Core CPD in this regard is CPD which is relevant to all architects such that all architects understand the broad principles and implications of the topic. Core CPD topics cover knowledge, skills and attitudes concerning:

  • ethics and professional conduct
  • legislative changes effecting the built environment and commercial practice (inclusive of referenced documents)
  • fundamental professional issues concerning all architects, including such areas as insurance, sustainability and other areas as identified from time to time
  • one off topics.

If an architect reaches his or her CPD points target, this is deemed sufficient evidence that the architect has taken "reasonable steps to stay current".

If an architect has not reached his or her CPD target, then a judgement is made as to whether the architect has taken reasonable steps to stay current. The architect is assessed on the basis of whether the professional development activities that were done were reasonable, relative to the kind of work that the architect does.

Architects should do and record CPD that they consider interesting and relevant to them, given the nature of the work they do. CPD participation validates an architect’s professionalism.

The NZRAB cannot grant continuing registration on the basis of CPD participation alone. All architects have to be actively reviewed and a judgement made as to whether each architect meets both the requirements described above.

Coming out of voluntary suspension
If an architect in voluntary suspension wants to practice again and his or her last competence review was more than five years ago, then firstly he or she has to have an competence review interactive assessment. This is because if the architect had been practising, a competence review would have been required earlier. In addition, the risk of there being competency issues grows as time passes if an architect is not practising, hence the requirement that the review be interactive.

Early Competence Reviews
If an architect wants to have an early competence review, this is permitted. Architects who are about to go into voluntary suspension or work overseas sometimes find this useful because it maximizes the time before their next review.

In addition, the NZRAB can review an architect early if there is a concern regarding the architect's competence. In this case the competence review must be interactive.