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ARB fines architect £2,500 for inspection gaffes

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The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has fined an architect £2,500 for failing to adequately inspect the works on a house extension before issuing a final certificate 

Toby Howell, a partner at Mitchell Evans Architects, Guildford, was found guilty of two out of three allegations of unacceptable professional conduct at a Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) hearing last month. 

The committee held that Howell had not adequately inspected the works for a home extension, prior to issuing the final certificate on the job in September 2014.

In particular, the PCC highlighted that he failed to ensure known defects to the windows and doors had been fixed, and that an ongoing dispute between the client and a contractor over faulty sewage pumps had been resolved. 

The committee also ruled that a statement in a later letter dated 17 October 2014, claiming that ‘at the time of signing off all doors and windows were working properly and were inspected by ourselves’, was inaccurate, misleading and dishonest.

It was also alleged that Howell had failed to allow a reasonable period of time for a representative of the client to reply to an email query about the defects, instead issuing the final certificate on the same date as the email was sent (23 September 2014).

However, the PCC found that the reply had been sent by an assistant and not Howell, who did not find out until later, and that this allegation did not amount to unacceptable professional conduct.

Howell accepted some of the facts in the case, but denied any dishonesty. Despite this, the PCC ruled the architect had done a ‘dishonest thing’.

But the PCC said that, given it was Howell’s first disciplinary matter, it would be ‘disproportionate’ to interfere with Howell’s right to practice, noting that he had ‘learned greatly from this experience’. 

It also found that there was no financial gain to Howell or the practice, there was little risk of Howell’s failings being repeated and that he had shown genuine remorse. 

Howell has been contacted for comment. 

View the full ruling here



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Readers' comments (1)

  • It seems to me mighty inconsistent of the ARB to censure this architect for what is, really, little more than an oversight, whilst overlooking the grossest incompetence demonstrated by the designers of Dartington Primary School.
    The RIBA is a charitable body. It is required to have a regard for the public interest. It is failing the public and the profession.

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