Arb’s first video hearing finds Scottish architect was seriously professionally incompetent

A Scottish architect has been fined £1,500 for serious professional incompetence after he draw up plans for a house that could not fit on the site.

It was alleged that Alan James Sheerin had produced a design for a house with incorrect measurements for the size of the plot and to the wrong scale, contrary to standards 2.1 and 6.1 of the Architects’ Code.

Sheerin, of Haddington, East Lothian, admitted he had made a mistake in transposing the plan and that this constituted serious professional incompetence.

He did not attend the session of Arb’s professional conduct committee (PCC) which was the first public hearing to be held by video link because of social distancing rules.

The committee heard that Sheerin had been instructed by the owner of a plot of land to prepare drawings for a house so it could be sold with planning consent.

After the planning permission was obtained, the property was sold to the client who wanted to build the house Sheerin had designed.

The client complained to the Arb in December 2018 after the builder measured the site and found it was not possible to build the house within the space available on the plot.

The PCC found the allegation proven and concluded it was the process Sheerin followed that produced the flawed planning application.

Sheerin was aware the plot would be purchased with the intention of building the house he had designed. The PCC said it was therefore his responsibility to ensure the design was feasible

In considering the sanction, the committee noted Sheerin had no previous findings against him. It also took into account his expressions of regret, and that there was minimal risk of repetition as he has since retired.

The PCC felt a penalty order of £1,500 was appropriate given the seriousness of his failings and the harm caused to his clients, who were unable to build the home they were hoping for.