Mr Ian Cook
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
Mr Ian Cook (033618A)
Emma Boothroyd (Chair)
David Kann (PCC Architect Member)
Jules Griffiths (PCC Lay Member)
In respect of the charges against Ian Cook:
a. accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee making a disciplinary order against him in the terms set out below;
b. confirms that he has been offered the opportunity to appear before a Hearing Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee to present his case, but does not wish to do so.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) accepts the facts and matters set out below and consents to the Professional Conduct Committee making a disciplinary order against Ian Cook in the terms set out below:
1. The Allegation
An allegation of Unacceptable Professional Conduct has been brought by the ARB against the Respondent. The ARB has particularised the allegation as follows:
(1) The Architect did not enter into a written agreement with the client which adequately covered the terms of engagement as set out in Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code;
(2) The Architect failed to communicate effectively with the client in that he submitted an amended application to the local planning authority without agreeing the content with the client.
2. Statement of agreed facts
2.1 The Respondent is a registered architect and has his own practice, Ian M Cook Architects.
2.2 In January 2018, the Respondent was appointed by the Complainant to assist with the proposed works at the Complainant’s home (“the Property”). The works proposed involved the demolition of an existing garage and erection of a two storey extension.
2.3 An initial meeting was held at the Property on 23 January 2018 where discussions were held regarding the proposed works. The Respondent did an initial survey and sketches and agreed to prepare drawings for Planning and Building Regulation Approval. It was also agreed that the Respondent would be the point of contact with Newcastle City Council (“the Council”).
2.4 The Respondent did not provide any written terms of engagement following the initial meeting.
2.5 The Respondent provided draft plans to the Complainant on 26 February 2018. After some minor suggestions for amendments were made by the Complainant, the plans were amended and approved on 28 February 2018. The Complainant paid the Respondent’s fees and the Council fees on 5 March 2018.
2.6 All correspondence from the Council was sent to the Respondent and he then forwarded this to the Complainant.
2.7 On 26 March 2018 the Council acknowledged receipt of the Building Regulation Application and noted that a formal decision notice would be issued by 18 May 2018. A second letter of the same date confirmed that the planning application had been received on 14 March 2018.
2.8 On 23 April 2018, the Council sent a Building Regulations Notice (“the Notice”) dated 20 April 2018. This was received by the Complainant on 4 May 2018. The Respondent did not provide any covering letter or explanation of the Council’s correspondence but instead forwarded the letter with a compliments slip attached.
2.9 The Notice set out that the Council had conditionally approved the plans but that there were two conditions relating to pinning and structural design calculations. The Notice also stated that it must not be regarded as giving permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The Respondent did not explain to the Complainant what this meant and the Complainant assumed that if the conditions were met then they could proceed with the building work.
2.10 The Complainant had separately appointed a Contractor. The proposed foundations were reviewed at a site meeting on 15 May 2018. The Respondent and Complainant had no correspondence at this time. The Complainant believed that the conditions had been discharged and that final approval was now in place. Work then began to dig out the foundations with full construction work commencing one week later, which post-dated the Council’s decision deadline of 18 May 2018.
2.11 Unbeknown to the Complainant, the Council emailed the Respondent on 15 May 2018 requesting that the proposed front elevation be set back. The Council also sought an extension to the decision target date of 18 May 2018.
2.12 The Respondent corresponded with the Council and submitted updated drawings and agreed to an extension to the determination period to 31 May 2018. The Complainant was not made aware of the correspondence with the Council, nor did he have sight of the amended plans prior to their submission. The Respondent did not discuss the amendments to the plans or seek approval from the Complainant before submitting these to the Council. These plans required the extension to be set back by approximately three feet.
2.13 The works that commenced at the Property were in keeping with the original plans. On 22 June 2018, during a routine inspection, an issue was raised about the positioning of a wall. It was at this stage that both the Complainant and Contractor were made aware of the amended plans.
2.14 As a result of the above, the Contractor had to knock down an entire wall and part of another wall. Further foundations had to be dug and further materials purchased. The Complainant incurred additional costs of £5,500 for the further works and there was a delay of three weeks to the project completion date. The completed extension was also 15% smaller as a result of the amended plans.
3.1 The Respondent accepts that he did not provide any terms of engagement at the outset of the contract or throughout. The Respondent admits that he had a professional obligation to provide the Complainant with adequate terms of engagement.
3.2 The Respondent accepts that he did not communicate effectively with the Complainant in that he did not liaise with the Complainant at all regarding the request from the Council to move the front elevation. Further, he did not discuss amending the plans with the Complainant either before or after submitting them to the Council.
4. Statement as to Unacceptable Professional Conduct
4.1 In light of the admissions above, the Respondent admits that this matter amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
4.2 Standard 4.4 of the Architects Code 2017 states that an Architect ls expected to ensure that they enter into a written agreement with the client which adequately covers a number of matters including the scope of the work, who will be responsible for what and details of fees and/or the method of calculating fees. The Architect is expected to enter into this written agreement with the client prior to undertaking any professional work. As a result of not providing written terms of engagement, the Respondent did not provide adequate details as to:
• The contracting parties;
• The scope of the work;
• The fee or method of calculating it;
• Who will be responsible for what;
• Any constraints of limitations on the responsibilities of the parties;
• The provisions for suspension or termination of the agreement;
• A statement that the Respondent had adequate and appropriate insurance cover as specified by the ARB;
• Any complaints-handling procedure, including details of any special arrangements for resolving disputes.
4.3 The Respondent accepts that it was necessary for him to provide adequate written terms of engagement for the project, as required under standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
4.4 Further, Standard 6.3 of the 2017 Code requires an architect to keep their client informed of the progress of work undertaken on their behalf and of any issue which may significantly affect quality or cost.
4.5 The Respondent accepts that the changes to the plans were a material change that was not discussed or approved by the Complainant. The Respondent accepts that he should have kept his client updated on his further communications with the Council and that the Council was seeking a revision to the plans. He accepts these should have been approved by the Complainant before they were submitted.
5. Previous Disciplinary History
5.1 The Respondent accepts that in 2006 he was subject to a complaint that was considered by the ARB’s then Investigations Committee. In that case it was alleged that the Respondent had failed to provide written terms of engagement. The Investigations Committee issued a recommendation to the Respondent which strongly recommended the architect have in place terms of engagement prior to commencing a project in line with the ARB Code.
5.2 The ARB’s position is that this previous decision is relevant to consideration of the current case. A similar issue in respect of terms of engagement has now arisen. The Respondent accepts that he has previously been recommended to have terms of engagement in place but that on this occasion he did not do so.
6. Disciplinary Order
6.1 The Consent Order Panel of the Professional Conduct Committee, with the consent of the parties and having taken account of its responsibilities to protect the public and maintain the reputation of the profession, makes the following disciplinary order:
6.2 In all of the circumstances the Respondent agrees to a penalty order in the sum of £1,000.
6.3 The Respondent has engaged in the regulatory process and has admitted the factual allegation. He has also admitted that this amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
6.4 The admitted allegation has the potential to diminish both the Respondent’s reputation and that of the profession generally and therefore the parties agree that the Respondent’s conduct was sufficiently serious to require the imposition of a disciplinary order. In light of the Respondent’s previous disciplinary history, the parties agree that a penalty order in the sum of £1,000 is an appropriate and proportionate disciplinary order to impose.