Professional Indemnity Insurance

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Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)

The Architects Registration Board requires all architects to carry PII – it is the most important area of insurance cover for all architects. Failure to obtain and maintain appropriate insurance cover will leave the architect potentially open to extreme liabilities.

PII cover is essential to protecting an architect in case of allegations of professional negligence and litigation expenses, which are often complex and sometimes traumatic. It is in the interest of both the client and the architect, that PII protection against liability incurred in practice or business related to architecture is in place. It ensures that there are enough funds to compensate the client if the architect is found to have been professionally negligent.

When an Architect is an employee of a practice, it is the practice, not the individual that has to take out PII. When an architect chooses to start their own business or operate individually, they are responsible for obtaining PII for themselves. Specialist advice should always be sought...

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What are Building Regulations

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The building regulations are statutory mechanisms that seek to ensure that the policies set out in the relevant legislation are carried out for the health and safety of building occupants. These include standards relating to the conservation of fuel and power (energy efficiency) and accessibility.

In essence they are a set of minimum technical standards that dictate how a building should be built to ensure a good quality of comfort/life for end-users. The technical standards range from spatial design to construction standards. They include space standards (i.e. certain rooms are to be certain sizes to ensure most people can use them comfortably) and they prescribe minimum sound insulation standards between units (i.e. to ensure that each person has certain comfort levels).

An architect will often produce a set of building regulations information packages that include drawings, building regulation reports or statements, and typical details for submission to either the local authority’s building regulation department (public), or an approved inspector (private).

Building regulations apply to almost all buildings and are relevant for almost all building work…

Architect's Fees

Image Credit: Architects Journal

Image Credit: Architects Journal

Architects’ Fees and Financial Management

This is such a hot topic as the fees charged by architects can vary very significantly for a multitude of factors, and since the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) abolished their indicative fee scales, there is very little benchmark data freely available.

Making a good profit should be integral to any business so running an architectural practice is no different. Architects are required to be financially savvy or they will suffer the consequences of the inevitable peaks and troughs of running a practice.

Accounts are filed annually for 4 main parties with different purposes:

• Filed annually to Companies House (statutory requirement for limited companies)

• Investors: as they have a financial stake in the company

• Creditors: lending institutions including banks

• Managers: have direct interest in a company including staff and unions, and are responsible for preparing information for management purposes

Making a profit should be integral to running a practice, and, in most cases, projects should make a profit.

It may occasionally be worth taking on a project with little profit potential where the prospect of getting future projects from an active client looks favourable. However it should be noted that active clients sometimes use this temptation of future work as a means to attract lower fees from consultants.

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What are Planning Conditions

Image credits: Planning Law Blog

Image credits: Planning Law Blog

Planning Conditions are obligations that limit and control the way in which approved planning permissions may be implemented.

Conditions are often imposed on developments to enhance their quality and mitigate against adverse effects of development, but they also allow development to take place where it would otherwise have been refused permission. They are usually site and application specific.
In accordance with the Town and Planning Country Planning Act 1990, conditions can be imposed by the local authority and the Secretary of State, or by their inspectors, as they “think fit” for a development.
According to the Planning Practice Guidance, planning conditions should have the six tests applied to them prior to imposing them on a development. Conditions should only be imposed where they are:
• Necessary • Relevant to planning • Relevant to the development to be permitted • Enforceable • Precise • Reasonable in all other respects…

Navigating the Planning System

Image credits: HTA Design LLP

Image credits: HTA Design LLP

The planning system has been put in place to manage the development of land and buildings in the interests of the public and the economy. It plays a role in clarifying what, where and when development is needed.

Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are responsible for deciding whether a development can go ahead. They are responsible for preserving heritage and improving on the infrastructure that allows for good civilised living.

Other key decision makers include:

  • Local councillors

  • The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

  • The Planning Inspectorate

The planning officer is often the most visible face of the planning system, and is seen as the go-between who maintains a balance between those seeking to undertake development and the public interest.

The Planning Portal and Planning Practice Guidance websites house a vast amount of information related to planning legislation, building regulations, and general advice on planning requirements for proposed developments…