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ARB fines Dundee architect £5,000

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An architect from Dundee has been slapped with fines totalling £5,000 by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) for his ‘incompetency’ on a budget-busting eco-house project

Gerald Young of Aim Architecture has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and professional incompetence by Architects Registration Board (ARB).

The ARB issued a penalty order of £2,500 on the conduct charge and £2,500 on the charge of serious professional incompetence.

According to the board’s disciplinary committee, Young had been instructed in respect of a project to build an ‘eco house’. The client had initially considered a WeberHaus, but Young suggested a ‘Dwell House’ - and a product by Dwell Sustainable Homes, a company which he part owned. 

It was alleged the client had a maximum project budget which Young said he could meet. However, the client wasted fees and expenses through the promotion of ‘Dwell House’ and in fact Young could not deliver the project within the budget.

According to the ARB the final figure for the project was £50,000 more than the client’s original budget.

Young was also accused of failing to provide adequate terms of engagement, had failed to deal with a resulting conflict of interest between his architectural practice and Dwell Sustainable Homes properly, and that he failed to deliver the scheme within his client’s stated budget or adequately advise her of the costs of the project. 

At the hearing Young admitted the allegation he had failed to provide terms of engagement that included provisions for termination or his complaints handling procedure.

He further admitted that he had failed to seek his client’s written informed consent to continue acting for her after notifying her of his interest in Dwell Sustainable Homes, but denied that either of these allegations amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.

He further denied that he had failed to provide his client with advice in relation to the costs of the project and said that he had advised her that her budget was ‘tight’. He said that the final figure he provided was realistic, and that his client did not at any time say that she could not exceed the budget, and that she would have to raise extra finance if it was exceeded.

The Committee found all the allegations against Young proved. It noted Young’s assertion that he was sceptical about telling clients about how to end contracts and how to resolve disputes - as he believed it sent out the wrong message - and considered that he had failed to act professionally in this regard.

It further found that while Young had told his client of his directorship of Dwell Sustainable Homes, his client had not been asked to give - and had not given - written consent.

The Committee further found that Young was aware of his client’s budget at the outset and had advised her that the cost of the project was unlikely to fluctuate, but was then unable to explain why he advised her almost a year later that construction costs were likely to fluctuate so much so that the project ended up being 44 per cent over her budget.

Read the full judgment here.

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