He pocketed cash intended for inspectors
An architect has been banned from practising for two years after he was found guilty of seven counts of unprofessional conduct in relation to a loft conversion built to the wrong height.
Ibiapuye Ekineh, of north London-based IBI Design Associates, was found guilty of failing to provide detailed drawings for the project and of retaining fees provided by his clients that should have been paid to London Building Control and Thames Water.
Ekineh was also found guilty of failing to have adequate professional insurance in relation to the project, misleading the Architects Registration Board over the state of his professional insurance cover and of failing to communicate with his clients effectively.
A hearing of the Arb’s Professional Conduct Committee heard that Ekineh had been appointed to design the conversion of loft space into a bedroom and bathroom as part of wider works to a family home in 2013.
In November the following year a building control inspector informed the clients that there was insufficient head height on the staircase leading to the loft, leaving the couple with expensive works to remedy the problem.
The Arb said it had subsequently emerged that the problems were due to the project contractors – who had been taken off the job two months earlier because of unspecified “issues” – incorrectly positioning a steel beam.
Ekineh had not created accurate drawings, measurements and plans for the project, but claimed at the hearing that he had verbally instructed the contractors on where to align the beam during a site meeting at the beginning of the project and had expected them to do the necessary measurements.
The committee accepted that Ekineh’s drawings had not shown the beam in the wrong location, and that it was not unreasonable for precise measurements to have been clarified on site once the area where the beam would be placed had been stripped.
However they said they said that the architect had failed in his responsibility to produce clear, accurate measurements, plans or explicit written instructions for the location of the beam, and to ensure it was placed where it should have been.
“Both individually and collectively, his failings are serious and adversely impact both on the reputation of the architect and the profession generally,” the committee said in its decision.
The Professional Conduct Committee said Ekineh’s involvement in the project ceased in August 2015, one month after the clients had asked for the return of money they had paid him for structural calculations that had not been done and other funds intended for a water connection that had also not been done.
It subsequently emerged that Ekineh had also not passed on payments intended for approved inspectors London Building Control and that they were being “reapportioned” to cover other aspects of the architect’s work on the project.
The clients instructed solicitors in April 2016 and raised a complaint with the Arb in December that year. Only then did questions begin to emerge about the extent of Ekine’s insurance cover. However the architect suggested he had been aware that his insurers had declined to cover a claim in relation to the project.
Ekine had denied six of the seven counts of unprofessional conduct he faced, before they were found proved by the committee. He accepted failing to properly set out his terms and conditions in line with the requirements of the Architects’ Code.
Justifying Ekineh’s two-year suspension from the professional register, the conduct committee said the case was the second time he had been found guilty of unprofessional conduct and that he had demonstrated “little insight” into his failings and continued to “blame the builder and his client”.
The committee added that Ekineh’s failure to maintain adequate insurance cover meant the clients were “deprived of the realistic possibility of making a claim against his practice”.
The Arb did not detail Ekineh’s ealier offence, other than suggesting that it involved shortcomings in relation to insurance.