RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

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3rd December 2014

The following comment was received from Malachy Mathews, a former RIAI Architectural Technologist in response to the blog post The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne that was published on Monday.

A great piece, by Joe Byrne, so true and so telling. 30 years ago I led a delegation of Architectural Technologists (ATs) into the Royal Institute of Architects (RIAI) in Merrion Square with the aim of seeking better representation. Here we are now, no support, no representation and the outing of the exclusive nature of the  RIAI. If the RIAI had represented ATs at the negotiating table with the Department of the Environment the profession and country would have benefited. Instead they (the RIAI President, CEO and Council) chose to prevent any inclusion of a professional AT to the statutory duties of Assigned and Design certifier and peddled the idea of the very “important role” for ATs of ancillary certification ( a role many architects now seek for themselves!).

At my first RIAI Council meeting as elected Chair of the RIAI Architectural Technologist Committee (ATC) I spoke of seeking “Parity of Esteem” similar to Kevin Tyrell’s recent calls for Equity not Equality. There was plenty of head nodding, plenty of platitudes but no action.

I resigned from the position of chairman of the RIAI ATC and resigned from the RIAI in 2012 when I recognised that despite the hard work, I and the committee members were doing for the good of the profession, both Architects and Architectural Technologists, the RIAI silo mentality and frankly perceived superior ethos would not change an iota.

I could call it wasted time and wasted effort but it was not, because if you do not engage you cannot comment with authority. If you do not engage you cannot learn and you will not develop the network necessary to take the argument forward. So I echo Joe Byrne’s call to have the effort “channeled in the correct manner to achieve that long sought after professional recognition”, …now outside of the RIAI.

Other posts of interest:

The future for Architectural Technologists is outside the RIAI | Joe Byrne

RIAI | Architectural Technologist update

CIAT Architectural Technologists Register goes live today! 

Architectural Technologists: Are you on the right bus?

Dáil: CIAT & RIAI- 2 Architectural Technologist Registers

UPDATE- CIAT Register for Architectural Technologists in Ireland

Architectural Technologists and BC(A)R SI.9: CIAT

Hot topic: Architectural Technologists and SI.9

Architectural Technologists and BC(A)R SI.9: CIAT

Architectural Technologist – Platitudes, Head Nodding and BC(A)R SI.9.

RIAI NEWS ALERT: Architectural Technologist Register

Architectural Technologists’ Petition

Message from Mick Wallace TD to Architectural Technologists

Audio Clip: Dáil Debate 27th May- Architectural Technologists & SI.9 

6 thoughts on “RIAI + Architectural Technologists | Malachy Mathews

  1. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    This is a very interesting discussion and I enjoy reading all such well written and considered contributions to this blog.

    I have one or two questions for Malachy and/or Joe and any other technologists working in the field.

    1. Is it common for Technologist led architectural practices to hold PI Insurance or individual technologists to hold personal PI Insurance?
    2. Consequently is it common / possible for technologist led practices to be appointed to lead teams for government / departmental appointments e.g. schools, hospitals etc?
    3. Are Technologists generally happy to take on the role of Design and Assigned Certifier under the legislation as it currently stands with a) the requirement for an unavoidable and arguably unsustainable level of PI Insurance and b) open ended and complete personal liability for every aspect of the building design and construction?

    Architectural Technologists in my experience (not unlike Architects) can be competent and highly skilled in some areas and lacking in skills and experience in other areas. The best ones in my experience are good team players and as such know that they always have something to learn about their chosen profession.

    The idea that either would be willing to personally stand over the complete compliance of work completed by a multitude of trades, fabricators and vendors is at best a highly dubious and at worst a highly dangerous undertaking.

    I’m sure Architectural Technologists as a body will in time come to a considered view on the role they would like to play in the administration of SI.09. As an Architect I very much look forward to hearing their conclusions. We have much to learn from one another.

    Reply
  2. Andrew Alexander MRIAI

    This is a very interesting discussion and I enjoy reading all such well written and considered contributions to this blog.

    I have one or two questions for Malachy and/or Joe and any other technologists working in the field.

    1. Is it common for Technologist led architectural practices to hold PI Insurance or individual technologists to hold personal PI Insurance?
    2. Consequently is it common / possible for technologist led practices to be appointed to lead teams for government / departmental appointments e.g. schools, hospitals etc?
    3. Are Technologists generally happy to take on the role of Design and Assigned Certifier under the legislation as it currently stands with a) the requirement for an unavoidable and arguably unsustainable level of PI Insurance and b) open ended and complete personal liability for every aspect of the building design and construction?

    Architectural Technologists in my experience (not unlike Architects) can be competent and highly skilled in some areas and lacking in skills and experience in other areas. The best ones in my experience are good team players and as such know that they always have something to learn about their chosen profession.

    The idea that either would be willing to personally stand over the complete compliance of work completed by a multitude of trades, fabricators and vendors is at best a highly dubious and at worst a highly dangerous undertaking.

    I’m sure Architectural Technologists as a body will in time come to a considered view on the role they would like to play in the administration of SI.09. As an Architect I very much look forward to hearing their conclusions. We have much to learn from one another.

    Reply
  3. Joe Byrne

    Andrew thanks for taking the time to reply. I guess to frame the response, my first priority in this debate has been inclusion for technologists, and an opportunity to highlight valid concerns. To date that has been a struggle, but things are improving.

    In my experience, it is common for self-employed technologists to hold PI insurance. I have certainly seen it as vital for many years in my area of specialism. Many colleagues who are involved in general practice also hold it, and I beleive it is a strict requirement for CIAT members to hold appropriate PI under their Code of Professional Conduct. Those offering (for example) BER Service and associated consultancy are also required to hold PI related to the services they provide, Ditto for Site Suitability Assessors and so on.

    As an aside, for the first number of years I took PI policies, I was always issued the ‘ARCHITECT’S’ proposal form – a considerable bugbear of mine, entailing lengthy discussions with my broker about the difference – but that’s another conversation.

    I don’t believe that it is now possible for technologist led practices to be appointed to Government contracts, at least since the introduction of the recent amendments. There were certain scales of work, limited by budget and complexity, open to technologist practices through the Department of Education up until (I think) August of last year, but the consultant procurement documents were amended at that stage in anticipation of the changes to the Buikding Control Regulations etc. and technologists were removed.

    Personally, I see the same issues with liability and insurability under this system as every architect (and Building Surveyor) I’ve spoken to. The notion that one person can oversee and then guarantee (for an unlimted time) the work of every other contractor, tradesman, consultant and supplier involved in the completion of a construction project seems completely unreasonable, and fails to change the status quo where a consumer must seek legal redress in order to be compensated. I know that this opinion is shared by the technologists I have spoken to.

    The difficulty up until now is that haven’t been asked for this opinion !

    Reply
  4. Joe Byrne

    Andrew thanks for taking the time to reply. I guess to frame the response, my first priority in this debate has been inclusion for technologists, and an opportunity to highlight valid concerns. To date that has been a struggle, but things are improving.

    In my experience, it is common for self-employed technologists to hold PI insurance. I have certainly seen it as vital for many years in my area of specialism. Many colleagues who are involved in general practice also hold it, and I beleive it is a strict requirement for CIAT members to hold appropriate PI under their Code of Professional Conduct. Those offering (for example) BER Service and associated consultancy are also required to hold PI related to the services they provide, Ditto for Site Suitability Assessors and so on.

    As an aside, for the first number of years I took PI policies, I was always issued the ‘ARCHITECT’S’ proposal form – a considerable bugbear of mine, entailing lengthy discussions with my broker about the difference – but that’s another conversation.

    I don’t believe that it is now possible for technologist led practices to be appointed to Government contracts, at least since the introduction of the recent amendments. There were certain scales of work, limited by budget and complexity, open to technologist practices through the Department of Education up until (I think) August of last year, but the consultant procurement documents were amended at that stage in anticipation of the changes to the Buikding Control Regulations etc. and technologists were removed.

    Personally, I see the same issues with liability and insurability under this system as every architect (and Building Surveyor) I’ve spoken to. The notion that one person can oversee and then guarantee (for an unlimted time) the work of every other contractor, tradesman, consultant and supplier involved in the completion of a construction project seems completely unreasonable, and fails to change the status quo where a consumer must seek legal redress in order to be compensated. I know that this opinion is shared by the technologists I have spoken to.

    The difficulty up until now is that haven’t been asked for this opinion !

    Reply
  5. michael quirke

    in reply to Andrews comments:
    I don’t know any chartered architectural technologist who does not hold PII,
    certainly its not possible to be a full member of CIAT without PII , I don’t know how one could be expected to be taken seriously in private practice without adequate PII cover. Adequate here should include the correct detailed disclosure of all relevant information on the proposal form. Have all those engaged in “assigned certifier” roles informed their insurers of the changes to work practices since filling in there last proposal form ?, if not then your playing with fire.
    Are technologists happy to take on the role of design and assigned certifier ? firstly they are not legally permitted to do so at present as we are excluded under BC(A)R. besides that I would not generally be enthusiastic to do so , anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time reading comments and the legislation should now be well aware of the massive, onerous liabilities they are taking on in acting in the assigned certifier role. Personally having worked for a number of architectural practices/ engineering practices/property management for many years and involving thousands of site inspections before BC(A)R where one was worn to a thread arguing with builders about poor workmanship, I shudder to thing of what im facing if acting as assigned certifier in the future ( if permitted under legislation to do so) I am absolutely astounded that so many architects are taking on the role of assigned certifier. To do ones job correctly as certifier will involve huge hours on site, its a real worry. For example: a 45 sqM extension to a private dwelling with 2 additional radiators linked to the existing heating system. Is it reasonable for the architect specify the piping, radiators, thermostats on the radiators, insulation, the point of connection to the existing system, pressure test, test run before covering up . Say then in 3 years a leak in the new pipe work causes serious damage. Might the assigned certifier be held liable? was the ancillary cert furnished by the plumber or did you insist the client engage an M&E consultant, even though it was a small project, -it seems it wont matter either way, under BC(A)R the assigned certifier is the best target for the client going to court ? is that not the case ? or are you not sure? well you simply cant be sure because unlike the plumbing system, it ,BCAR certs haven’t been pressure tested, theres no precedent . I suspect that any small architectural practice insisting the client engages and M&E consultant for a very small extension will not be very popular , -damned if you do and damned if you don’t !, certifying the lot will, as Andrew has said be “a highly dangerous undertaking”.
    Does the minister really want to discuss the liability issue ,the State wont take the hit under current legislation but somebody will, just be sure its not YOU.
    michael quirke
    chartered architectural technologist MCIAT

    Reply
  6. michael quirke

    in reply to Andrews comments:
    I don’t know any chartered architectural technologist who does not hold PII,
    certainly its not possible to be a full member of CIAT without PII , I don’t know how one could be expected to be taken seriously in private practice without adequate PII cover. Adequate here should include the correct detailed disclosure of all relevant information on the proposal form. Have all those engaged in “assigned certifier” roles informed their insurers of the changes to work practices since filling in there last proposal form ?, if not then your playing with fire.
    Are technologists happy to take on the role of design and assigned certifier ? firstly they are not legally permitted to do so at present as we are excluded under BC(A)R. besides that I would not generally be enthusiastic to do so , anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time reading comments and the legislation should now be well aware of the massive, onerous liabilities they are taking on in acting in the assigned certifier role. Personally having worked for a number of architectural practices/ engineering practices/property management for many years and involving thousands of site inspections before BC(A)R where one was worn to a thread arguing with builders about poor workmanship, I shudder to thing of what im facing if acting as assigned certifier in the future ( if permitted under legislation to do so) I am absolutely astounded that so many architects are taking on the role of assigned certifier. To do ones job correctly as certifier will involve huge hours on site, its a real worry. For example: a 45 sqM extension to a private dwelling with 2 additional radiators linked to the existing heating system. Is it reasonable for the architect specify the piping, radiators, thermostats on the radiators, insulation, the point of connection to the existing system, pressure test, test run before covering up . Say then in 3 years a leak in the new pipe work causes serious damage. Might the assigned certifier be held liable? was the ancillary cert furnished by the plumber or did you insist the client engage an M&E consultant, even though it was a small project, -it seems it wont matter either way, under BC(A)R the assigned certifier is the best target for the client going to court ? is that not the case ? or are you not sure? well you simply cant be sure because unlike the plumbing system, it ,BCAR certs haven’t been pressure tested, theres no precedent . I suspect that any small architectural practice insisting the client engages and M&E consultant for a very small extension will not be very popular , -damned if you do and damned if you don’t !, certifying the lot will, as Andrew has said be “a highly dangerous undertaking”.
    Does the minister really want to discuss the liability issue ,the State wont take the hit under current legislation but somebody will, just be sure its not YOU.
    michael quirke
    chartered architectural technologist MCIAT

    Reply

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