State demands steep cut in fees from architects
ALREADY FLOUNDERING from the downturn, architects are coming under severe pressure from State agencies, whose remit to shave costs and cut back on expenditure is being felt across both the construction industry and the architectural profession.
Take the tenders for the new Childrensâ€™ Hospital in Dublin, already trailing a saga of cynicism over its location. In spite of reservations over emergency access to its north inner city location near the Mater and extra costs associated with building in that location, the realpolitik has been accepted, due to the pervasive influence of then taoiseach Bertie Ahern, for whom nothing moved in the constituency without his say-so.
Whether Bertie can do anything about the scaled-back fees on offer is another matter. Professional consortia invited to tender have been taken aback at the reduced fees on offer. Of course, itâ€™s good and proper, however belatedly, that construction tenders should be subject to greater scrutiny. Remember those perennial â€œover-budgetâ€ runs on State contracts, which traditionally made the comptroller and auditor generalâ€™s reports look like a golfing tip for buildersâ€™ outings in Marbella â€“ such was the scale of overruns on materials, labour, etc.
Joe Public was right to be heartily sick of these inevitable â€œoverrunsâ€. But now there is overrun in another direction â€“ the swing of savage cuts on all tenders.
Bidding consortia of architects, engineers and surveyors, we hear, are having their projections returned with demands to reduce their fees, from the standard scale of around 10 to 12 per cent of the build cost to, wait for it, 1 per cent. As one veteran architect asked: â€œCan anyone run a business on a 1 per cent margin?â€ Answers from architects, please, on a postcard if you can afford the stamp, to the CAGâ€™s office