The RIBA must listen to members’ fee concerns
Nearly two thirds of architects want the institute to bring back fee scales
The RIBA’s position on fees is simple: the best ones are those negotiated between the architect and the client. This is despite countless requests from its own membership to bring back fee scales — repeated again following a leading housing association’s decision to offer architects no fee at all.
A BD survey this week reveals nearly two-thirds of architects would like the RIBA to bring back fee scales — so clients like Sanctuary don’t walk all over them.
This, says the RIBA, is impossible.
It points to an EU Competition Directive which forbids all professional bodies to provide recommended — or even “indicative” — fee scales, which the RIBA abandoned in 2003.
But, as we know, Europe is full of directives which need challenging and it’s far from a level playing field. In the rest of Europe, architectural involvement on planning applications is compulsory. So why should the profession be punished twice?
Don’t forget that when the RIBA voted, all those years ago, to abandon mandatory fee scales, it was with a heavy heart. The new form of recom-mended fee scale it finally settled on was a compromise — described then as a “slow death”, rather than the suicide stakes architects find themselves in now.
What’s to be done? Nothing if you are the RIBA. But nothing is not good enough. There are too many architects chasing too few jobs and yet the RIBA has a vested interest in keeping numbers high.
Norman Foster, who in 1975 spoke in favour of abandoning mandatory fees, is the kind of architect the RIBA approves of: very successful, very tough and very talented. But what about the rest?
Liberalising clients from having to pay decent fees has made some architects extremely rich but has had devastating consequences. If fees can no longer be enforced, the RIBA must find another way to help the profession get properly paid.