GETTING HELP WITH ARCHITECTURAL SERVICE CONCERNS
Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, architectural projects go wrong, or misunderstandings occur between clients and their architects. And sometimes, architects make mistakes or behave unethically.
If you are having problems with your architect, we strongly recommend that firstly you talk with your architect directly, maybe the two of you can sort things out. But, if that’s not possible, and you want our help, then we will do our best to assist.
How this works
If you are concerned about a service provided by an architect, or an architect’s conduct or competence, and you want the NZRAB to get involved, you need to tell us what the issue is by filling out an Architectural Service Concern Form.
You then submit the Concern Form to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to NZRAB, PO Box 11106, Wellington 6142. We review the information you have provided and work out which of the following three options is appropriate.
1) A senior architect trying to help
If we think it can help, a senior architect will contact you and discuss what’s happened. If appropriate, the senior architect will also talk to your architect. Then the senior architect will try to help you and your architect find a solution. This is an informal process, it is not mediation or arbitration. Any solution will require your agreement and your architect’s agreement. This service is not confidential and lawyers for the parties may also be involved in helping to find a solution.
Please also note that we will not be able to give you formal legal or insurance advice.
If a solution can’t be found, then you will have the options of either laying a complaint or raising a Competence Concern, as described below. The Disputes Tribunal may also be an option to consider.
2) Laying a complaint
You can lay a formal complaint, which you are entitled to do at any time. Complaints are usually about specific incompetent or unethical behaviour.
Laying a complaint does NOT cost you any money and the NZRAB conducts the investigation by means of a panel. In effect you then become a witness.
But please note that the NZRAB’s disciplinary procedures are about holding architects to account, we can impose a penalty, but we cannot order your architect to compensate you or refund professional fees. Also, we can only mount disciplinary proceedings against individual architects, we cannot discipline companies or practices. We cannot take action against a building designer who was not a Registered Architect at the time. For that, try https://www.lbp.govt.nz/.
If you decide to lay a complaint, we will send you a specific form for that.
3) Raising a Competence Concern
Separately, if it seems that your architect may be generally incompetent or no longer safe to practice, we have a review procedure for dealing with that, which can lead to an architect no longer being permitted to practice as an architect. This sort of review is about the architect as a whole, and not just about what specifically happened to you.
If you decide to raise a competence concern, we will send you a specific form for that.
A diagram illustrating how these procedures work can be viewed here.
If you want our help, please fill out and provide us with the Architectural Service Concern Form cited above. Or if you wish, please ring us at 04 4711336.