Move to exempt unlicensed architects from test criticised


A BILL to exempt unlicensed architects from compulsory assessment for registration has been criticised as unnecessary by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland

The legislation would undermine consumer confidence and protection, the RIAI claims.

Former ceann comhairle John O’Donoghue introduced a Private Members’ Bill to amend the Building Control Act 2007, which legally protects the word “architect” and requires all practitioners to register with the institute.

The Building Control (Amendment) Bill provides a “grandfather clause” for self-trained architects to retain their official status.

Mr O’Donoghue said the Bill would “prevent hundreds of working architects from losing out on their official status because they pursued a different route to qualification”.

Registrar of the RIAI John Graby said there was already a grandfather clause in the legislation. Registration included assessment by a technical board which he described as “fair, accessible, structured, independent and based on expert assessment”.

But the Architects’ Alliance, a group set up by established self-trained architects in the wake of the 2007 Act, disputes the independence of the process.

The alliance has about 180 members and estimates there are about 400 unlicensed architects.

Brian Montaut, spokesman for the alliance, said asking architects to do such a test was the equivalent of introducing a written exam for the driving test and expecting people who have 10, 20 or 30 years’ experience to do the test.

He claimed the test was inappropriate and based on an academic methodology when unlicensed architects would have years of practical experience. The “exam is intended to be selective and exclusive rather than inclusive” and based on academic criteria. “We don’t pretend to have academic training,” Mr Montaut said.

Mr Graby said the fundamental issue was that people did not want to be assessed. He said opponents of the assessment saw it as a plot to keep people out of the business, but it certainly was not.