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ARB fines architect over ‘aesthetic disaster’

A Hertfordshire architect has been fined £4,000 after the flawed construction of two houses led to an ‘aesthetic disaster’

Richard Lewis of Lewis Patten Chartered Architects, Hertford, was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and serious professional incompetence at a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s (ARB) professional conduct committee.

Lewis faced a number of allegations over his conduct when acting for a client to design and project manage the construction of two semi-detached houses in north-west London.

The committee heard evidence that internal steel posts, in place to support a bay window construction, had been initially designed to fit flush to the window. Once under construction it emerged the design meant they had in fact been installed with a substantial gap to the wall, resulting in two pillars piercing the window sills both downstairs and upstairs in what was described as an ‘aesthetic disaster’.

The architect accepted he had failed to advise his client about alternative ways in which the bay could have been supported and that his initial terms of engagement did not meet the expectations of the 2002 code of conduct. But he denied that these facts amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.

The committee dismissed charges that Lewis had failed to act impartially or failed to keep his client updated on issues relating to cost, but it decided he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct for failing to set out his terms of contract sufficiently and failing to consult with his client about the steel posts. For this Lewis was given a £1,500 fine.

The committee also concluded that he was guilty of serious professional incompetence over the design of the steel posts, which ‘was simply not thought through’. For this he was dealt a further £2,500 fine.

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