Our 2006 study of the architectural profession found that competition among architects was generally working well for consumers. However we were concerned about certain aspects of the regulation system for architects.
We made 11 recommendations covering the following three areas:
Building Control Bill 2005: Strengthening the provisions of the Building Control Bill 2005 to prevent unnecessary restrictions on competition (4 recommendations)
Registered Architects: Ensuring that, once the new system of registration was in place, all registered architects would be free to enter architectural competitions and issue Opinions of Compliance (2 recommendations)
Removal of existing restrictions on competition: We identified restrictions in advertising, the recognition of Irish architects in Europe, professional indemnity insurance levels, training, and percentage fees (5 recommendations)
Our recommendation for an independent regulator was not accepted
We recommended that the new regulatory body for architects should be independent of existing professional representative organisations. This was to avoid any possible conflict of interest between a representative body (whose job it is to protect the interests of members) and a regulator (whose duty is to protect the public interest).
Our recommendation on this matter was not accepted. Under the Building Control Act 2007, the Royal Institute for the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), which is the main professional representative body for architects in Ireland, was appointed as the new registration body and competent authority for architects. In November 2009, a new Register of Architects was introduced. The Register is administered and regulated by the RIAI.
Other recommendations in our study have been implemented and will safeguard the interests of consumers. Changes introduced in response to our study include:
The removal of RIAI rules restricting advertising by architects
The removal of percentage fees from draft contracts published by the RIAI
A Code of Conduct for architects was ratified by the RIAI in August 2013, following a public consultation process and following consultation with the Competition Authority
Under the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013, all registered architects are recognised as assigned certifiers for the purposes of issuing certificates of compliance
The number of full-time prescribed courses in architecture has risen from two to four (UCD, DIT, UL and WIT)
A small number of our recommendations are accepted in principle, but are awaiting full implementation. These include:
Ensuring that recognition in Europe is granted to all registered architects (with no requirement for membership of the RIAI)
Ensuring that all registered architects can enter publicly-funded architectural competitions
Provision of part-time and modular courses in architecture to provide more flexible routes of entry to the profession