By Owen Luder. RIBA Publications, 2001. 81pp. £12 The phrase 'avoiding the trip wires'crops up very occasionally throughout this book, meaning that particularities of the text are not meant to be generalised across all experiences that the reader might encounter, writes Austin Williams . Instead, the booklet gives pointers in the direction of 'right practice', which, with a fair wind, ought to keep the reader out of trouble in his/her architectural practice.
Each section is entitled 'Keeping out of trouble with. . . ' (fees, building contracts, the law, etc), and breaks down into subsets of specific advice (on novation, letters of intent, criminal charges).This edition has been updated from the 1999 version by the inclusion of sections on copyright, extensions of time and limited liability partnerships.
The book begins with the client - asking whether you should take the commission in the first place.
Do you have the resources, the know-how, the expertise, but also ask yourself whether the client is reputable, financially stable, committed? Does the client understand his/her responsibilities, contracts, health and safety liabilities?
Who is paying your fees? Who issues instructions? ('If your clients are a married couple. . .
divorce proceedings have been known to follow from confusion over this issue'). It is worth noting how often common sense goes out of the window when a client walks through the door.
On completion notices, Luder advises that 'if there are reasons for which the contractor is responsible that prevent the building being occupied, or there is more than a minimal amount of outstanding work (which must include defective work), you should not issue the practical completion certificate'. Although this is an eternal bugbear of architects, it is essential that architects realise the potential liability they incur if they bow to the pressure from the client to take possession before the work is in a reasonable state for handover.
In conclusion, Luder notes:
'On receipt of notification of a complaint from the ARB, treat it seriously, no matter how absurd you consider it to be.'
Throughout, excellent advice given in a highly readable and entertaining way; a deceptively difficult trick.Time and money well spent. A must.