State demands steep cut in fees from architects

Already floudering 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 Childrens’ 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, it’s good and proper, however belatedly, that construction tenders should be subject to greater scrutiny. Remember those perennial “over-budget” runs on State contracts, which traditionally made the comptroller and auditor general’s reports look like a golfing tip for builders’ outings in Marbella – such was the scale of overruns on materials, labour, etc.