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RIBA’s new Plan of Work ‘unhelpful’, says ACA

Picture from riba client survey 2016

More than half of the 73 respondents to a survey by the Association of Consultant Architects (ACA) said they found the RIBA’s 2013 Plan of Work ‘unhelpful’

In 2013, the RIBA replaced the alphabetical A to L stages of its Plan of Work, with a new, seven-point numerical version. The move marked the most significant changes to the Plan of Work since its introduction more than 50 years ago. 

However, 52 per cent of the 73 respondents to the ACA’s survey said they had more problems using the new numerical format than the former, now-abandoned alphabetical format. 

Two-fifths (41 per cent) also found the RIBA Plan of Work ‘unhelpful’ in relation to the appointment of contractors.

Nearly half (47 per cent) said they still use the alphabetical Plan of Work.

Nearly two thirds (61 per cent) of respondents reported the the Plan of Work was not helpful in relation to the scope of work needed for full planning applications.

And more than half (52 per cent) said a published ‘overlay’, reconciling the numerical Plan of Work with the alphabetical one, would be useful to their practice.

Riba plan of work 2013

Riba plan of work 2013

Brian Waters, president of the ACA, said: ‘With half the respondents looking for a compatible way of continuing to use the well-established structure of the alphabetical plan of work, the ACA will be publishing an overlay to the 2013 Plan of Work, mainly geared for traditional procurement methods, later this year.

‘This will make it easier to discuss projects in terms of concept, design development, technical design, production information, tender action and so forth. It will also make clear the established fee charging points, most particularly the achievement of a full planning permission.’

Many practices have serious concerns about the inflexibility of the RIBA Plan of Work

John Assael, founder of Assael Architecture, said the results showed that ‘many practices do indeed have serious concerns about the inflexibility of RIBA Plan of Work’.

He added: ‘The RIBA should have commissioned this survey themselves, but they seemed to be very complacent about the feedback from practices and I am delighted that we now have a well-researched paper that unequivocally confirms the concerns of those of us in practice.

‘How difficult is it for the RIBA to act and produce a simple overlay now? I am told by the RIBA that this will take some time and this is disappointing.’

The ACA said it carried out the survey to see how the 2013 Plan of Work was faring, following ‘rumblings of dissatisfaction and concern from members’.

In 2013, the AJ revealed that more than half (54 per cent) of architects, developers, engineers and consultants had not made the transition to the institute’s Plan of Work 2013 six months after it was introduced.

Responding to the results RIBA executive director of members Adrian Dobson said: ‘We keep the RIBA Plan of Work under regular review; our recently published RIBA Plan of Work for Small Projects, for example, was developed in response to feedback from the profession.

‘The new RIBA Plan of Work has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, is widely adopted in the construction industry and features regularly in client briefs and tender invitations. The next revision of the RIBA Plan of Work will address key issues including the sequencing of planning and development control activities in relation to various procurement scenarios.’ 


Readers' comments (4)

  • The ACA findings are not at all surprising. The old Plan of Work was a very carefully drafted document that could easily have been tweaked to reflect current practice, rather than replaced wholescale. As it wasn't broken in the first place why on earth was it 'fixed'?!

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  • I totally agree that the 2013 plan of work is extremely confusing for clients and adds nothing that could not be annotated in reference to the old alphabetical plan.
    The ideas of the 2013 plan seems to be to create a framework for a bespoke service, but it really is not helpful to be unclear where the key milestones are from the client point of view. ie town planning and tendering.

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  • There is a gaping hole in the middle of the new plan where half the production info, tender documentation and tender action should sit. Of course we don't need these functions anymore because every time there is a major investigation into the construction industry the conclusion is always the same, - give it to a developer at the beginning so they can tell you how to do it, and it seems the RIBA agrees, what do we need Architects for?

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  • Its a disaster for us and had definitely resulted in lower fees. the idea that planning is 2+ and tender 3 has meant clients expect to pay much less for the same service.

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