Mr Neil Perry
THE ARCHITECTS REGISTRATION BOARD
PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE
In the matter of
Mr Neil Perry (066244E)
The Respondent, Neil Perry:
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 Neil Perry 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 contrary to standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
2. Statement of agreed facts
1. The Respondent is a registered architect and at the material time was employed at Anderson Orr Architects of The Studio, 70 Church Road, Wheatley, Oxford OX44 1LZ.
2. In March 2014, the Respondent was appointed by Mr Barney Moores (“the Complainant”) to assist with renovation works at the Complainant’s home (“the Property”). The works proposed by the Complainant were for the renovation and expansion of three bedrooms, including the master bedroom which was en-suite. This included having a new access corridor and a new entrance. Further, the Complainant wanted to open up the attic space and create a new permanent access to the attic to replace the existing ladder.
3. Following the initial discussions between the Respondent and the Complainant about the works that were to be carried out, the Respondent wrote to the Complainant on 28 March 2014 setting out the proposed works and providing a fee proposal and other enclosures including a document entitled “Schedule of Fees and Expenses & Standard Conditions of Service”.
4. Following this, there were further discussions about the proposed works and it was decided to move the access staircase from the end of the Property to the middle of the Property and to create a new three-storey stair block. The Respondent then provided an updated fee proposal in a further terms of engagement letter dated 11 July 2014.
5. The engagement letter that was issued by the Respondent set out the broad terms of the works required and confirmed that a measured survey would be needed. The project was broken down into a number of stages. Stage 1A related to the need for amendments to existing planning permission, which the Complainant had obtained with the assistance of another architect in 2013. The Respondent’s proposed fees for that work were to be £1,750 plus VAT.
6. The letter also set out proposed works and fees in respect of stage 1B, which related to planning and design. Fees for the Respondent’s work in respect of this stage were estimated to be in the region of £8,250 plus VAT. The letter did not set out the scope of works required, or the expected fees, for Stage 2 or Stage 3 of the project. Stage 2 related to building regulations and drawings and Stage 3 related to onsite works. The letter noted that these matters were to be established in due course.
7. Stage 1 commenced in July 2014. A planning and listed building application was submitted on 16 February 2015 and consent was obtained on 12 May 2015. In late April 2015, the Complainant advised the Respondent that he wished to appoint Findlay Construction Limited as the Contractor for the project and works began at the Property in May 2015.
8. The Respondent submitted an invoice to the Complainant on 28 May 2015 for the works carried out for Stages 1A and 1B and this was paid accordingly. The Respondent did not provide an estimate of costs to the Complainant in respect of his work for Stage 2 or Stage 3 of the project prior to these stages commencing, although he did send emails on 4 September 2015 and 12 October 2015 providing an update on fees incurred.
9. Works were carried out at the Property in summer 2015. The Complainant’s position is that he had understood that the Respondent was acting as project manager throughout and that the Respondent would regularly attend on site and liaise with the Contractor about the works being carried out.
10. The Respondent submitted a further invoice dated 29 December 2015 in the sum of £20,517.25 plus VAT. This listed services carried out as including:
• The preparation of drawings and building regulations package;
• Attendance at site meetings and inspection of onsite works;
• Preparation and distribution of site meeting notes/action points;
• Administration of contract and issue of progress payments;
• Liaising with the Contractor/other consultants and dealing with onsite queries.
11. The invoice submitted noted that fees had been agreed. The Complainant’s position is that that at no point had fees been agreed for Stage 2 or Stage 3 of the works. The works had clearly reached those stages but the Respondent had not issued any updated terms or fee proposals. The invoice noted fees for the building regulations application to be £12,000 plus an application fee for £1,568. Other professional fees were recorded as £6,750. Additional miscellaneous expenses brought the total of the invoice to £20,517.25 plus VAT.
12. The Complainant wrote to the Respondent on 1 February 2016 noting that he assumed that the 29 December 2015 invoice was the final invoice.
13. The Respondent wrote to the Complainant on 3 March 2016 in response to the 1 February 2016 letter. The Complainant and the Respondent had no further direct correspondence after this date. No further invoice was submitted by the Respondent.
14. In due course, the works at the Property were completed in April 2016.
15. The Respondent accepts that the two engagement letters dated 28 March 2014 and 11 July 2014 did not provide a fixed fee for stages 2 and 3. The Respondent’s position is that there was insufficient time to agree fixed quotes before the work commenced.
16. The ARB accepts that the Respondent did provide updates on fees incurred to date on 4 September 2015 and 12 October 2015, although this was after stage 2 and 3 of the works had commenced. Further, the ARB accepts that the terms of the appointment confirmed the contracting parties and the method of calculating a fixed fee.
17. The Respondent admits that he had a professional obligation to provide the Complainant with adequate terms of engagement. The Respondent accepts that the engagement letters and terms dated 28 March 2014 and 11 July 2014 did not adequately detail the Respondent’s role in the project and the scope of the works to be carried out at stages 2 and 3 and that he did not provide this information at a later date during the project. Whilst the terms of engagement did set out hourly rates, in the event that a fixed fee was not agreed, the Complainant was not provided with any estimate of the costs for stages 2 and 3 prior to these works commencing.
18. The Respondent admits that the terms of engagement did not provide details of provision for suspension/termination of the agreement, details of insurance or information on Anderson Orr’s complaints handling.
3. Statement as to unacceptable professional conduct
19. In light of the admission above, the Respondent further admits that this matter amounts to Unacceptable Professional Conduct.
20. Standard 4.4 of the 2010 ARB Code states that an Architect is 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.
21. Whilst the Respondent did provide a letter and terms of engagement, these documents did not adequately and/or at all clarify:
• Any updated fee proposal or scope of works in respect of stages 2 and 3 of the works (prior to these stages commencing)
• Who was responsible for what;
• Provision for suspension/termination of the agreement;
• Details of insurance;
• Complaints handling information.
22. The Respondent accepts that it was necessary for him to provide adequate written terms of engagement for all projects, as required under standard 4.4 of the Architects Code.
4. 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:
23. In all of the circumstances the Respondent agrees to a penalty order of a reprimand.
24. 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. He has no adverse regulatory history.
25. 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 low risk of repetition, the parties agree that a reprimand is an appropriate and proportionate disciplinary order to impose.