The ARB has struck off an architect from Edinburgh over his lack of ‘competence, integrity, impartiality and independence’ on a botched £140,000 extension job
Robert Lukas of hLp Architects was erased from the Architects’ Register after being found guilty of serious professional incompetence and unacceptable professional conduct, which had led to ’long-lasting emotional and financial impact on the client’.
It was alleged that Lukas had carried out a flawed tender process, had failed to administer a building contract competently, hadn’t identified major issues with the work and had used an inappropriate bespoke contract for building work, which the ARB claimed ‘no client would be well-advised to sign’.
According to the ARB, this ‘very one-sided’ contract was so ’heavily amended that it bore little resemblance to the minor works contract on which it was allegedly based’ so that it was ’misleading to say that it was such a contract’.
Additional allegations included that Lukas had overseen and witnessed a regime of cash payments – £114,000 paid to the contractor in £20,000 instalments in envelopes – despite the client’s concerns over this and the lack of progress of work on site.
The ARB’s professional conduct committee also alleged Lukas had failed to act impartially and independently in response to his client’s concerns regarding the contractor’s workmanship on the project, which added another floor to the client’s bungalow.
The committee said that: ’The work had been very poor indeed, and the cost of undoing what the contractor had done and effecting remedial works meant the cost was at least double [the original £140,000 estimate], with several years delay and it was yet not finished.’
The committee found all the facts and allegations proven and noted Lukas’ behaviour had ‘deceived his client into thinking the approach was normal, when it was in fact unacceptable’.
When determining the sanction, the committee observed that Lukas had no previous findings against him over a long career, had demonstrated a degree of empathy with his client and had engaged fully with the regulatory process. It also noted there was no evidence he had derived any financial benefit beyond his modest fee.
However, the committee also considered the combination of competence and conduct issues ’to be wide-ranging and significant, the lack of integrity being particularly serious’ and that ‘Lukas had little insight into his failings’.
Due to the ‘difficulty of remediating [his] failings’, the ARB recommended that Lukas should not be allowed to reapply to join the register for at least three years.