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    • #711382
      Paul cuddy

      I just cannot understand the Institutes stand on this one. I mean, they went to such great lengths and fought off the architects alliance to protect the name (and rightly so) and now they are registering people who do not have any acedemic qualifications. I appreciate that the people passing the process are probably quite skillful in terms of their design capabilities but does this not dilute the significance of the 5 year degree. How do other architects who spent 5 years studying feel about this and what sort of a message is the Institution sending out to the public. If my Institution (structural) did such a thing I would be up in arms. Also there seems to be a considerable failure rate from acedemically qualified architects and yet some people without formal education can pass, that would suggest to me that there is something considerably wrong with process. I would not be so bold to suggest that there is an element of financial gain here to be had but could someone please shed some light on the possible rational of the whole thing.

    • #817104

      This situation is much more complex – legally, politically and (not least) socially amongst architects in general –
      than an outsider like you or me could immediately grasp.
      There are a few other threads on this forum outlining the various positions.
      Read them (not for too long !) and you’ll get some sort of handle on it.

      But let’s be fair to the architects.
      No professional body is without its smelly stuff.
      Not yours and not mine either — also an engineering “Institute” like yours, affecting to
      combine the twin responsibilities of professional regulatory body with that of a learned
      society providing CPD and other library/publications services to members.
      You know outrageous clowns and rip-off artists in the very bowels of your profession’s
      regulating body. I know some in mine.
      Why it is that some people press for riding point in an organization when their natural
      position is bringing up the drag ?
      More importantly, why do the ordinary members of that organization who see the wrong
      types entering positions of power never feel so animated about it to say or do anything
      worthwhile about it ?

      I’d be in favour of state imposition of a new paradigm for all professional bodies.

      – Decentralisation of local chapters to facilitate convenient membership activity
      – Total democracy in selection of representatives
      – Quotas to restrict representation of members from sectors tending to dominate
      official roles (one thinks particularly of the over-represented academics here)
      – Sensible and relevant committee structure
      – Minimal use and strict control of in-house professionals, e.g. lawyers, marketing people,
      PR, “administrators”, economists, etc
      – Strict division of professional regulatory matters from other functions.
      Applicants for membership of this section be subject to strictest vetting.
      – Full participation of community selected members in the decision-making processes of
      professional malpractice committees

    • #817105

      if their work is good enough i dont see why they shouldnt be allowed call themselves architects. if they show an effort to learn on their own there is no reason why they should be less qualified than others. lets face it Michael Scott “considered the most important architect of the twentieth century in Ireland.” ( could not call himself an architect today, or for a more modern example ’95 pritzker winner Tadao Ando.
      in saying that i doubt that all have made the effort

    • #817106

      Paul I don’t know who you know of who’s taking the entrance assessment, but you seem sucked in by the glories of academic qualification.
      You, like many whose parents have paid a fortune for their education and may feel a bit aggrieved, seem to miss the point.

      Let’s look back on where your own profession arose from the tradition of master builders and Victorian Engineers.
      Even their failures were glorious failures, and pushed the borders of man’s knowledge and achievements.
      Their apprenticed means of education produced many fine feats of engineering still with us today.

      For example, from

      “The son of the eminent engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and Sophia Kingdom Brunel, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9 April 1806 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, where his father was working on block-making machinery.[4][5] He had two older sisters, Sophia and Emma, and the whole family moved to London in 1808 for his father’s work. Brunel had a happy childhood, despite the family’s constant money worries, with his father acting as his teacher during his early years. His father taught him drawing and observational techniques from the age of four and Brunel had learned Euclidean geometry by eight. During this time he also learned fluent French and the basic principles of engineering. He was encouraged to draw interesting buildings and identify any faults in their structure”

      Accordingly to John Graby, the Registrar, when I put a similar point to him about Michael Scott, he confirmed he sat the RIAI entrance examination and was admitted into the ranks of its members.
      Admittedly Scott is on record as “distrusting anyone with letters after their name” and apparently he was badgered into sitting a special exam.

      No everyone takes the same path in life.
      I believe there is an onus us to be inclusive and recognise all those who are persistent and have ability and reach a certain standard.

      Some can, and do.
      Some cannot and teach.
      Some whinge and complain and fall away and achieve nothing.
      Some struggle to achieve their qualification through five and more years of 3rd Level work.
      Some start indentured servitude to those who can and work their way up the ladder to competence.

      The current position in Architecture is that several routes exist to membership for those who are willing to stand up and be assessed.
      There is broad agreement among many of those wishing to practice as architects that such an assessment is a Good Thing.

      – There are disagreements with the RIAI’s elevation to the position of competent authority.
      – There are disagreements over the perceived difference in standards now and previously.
      – There is a huge concern over the high cost of some routes to becoming assessed.

      There is a small group of people who believe that they should be allowed entry to the profession without any assessment whatsoever.
      This small group is at the core of a larger group within which it buries itself with the aim that “all go through or none go through”.
      This small group has as a core principle the unseating of the Registrar and the undermining of the competent authority.
      Some members of the larger group have decided to stand up and be assessed and some have already been admitted.

      As Teak has said, this is a much more complex situation than at might appear and there are many shades of gray.


      • I am actively working to try to get to overall cost of assessment reduced to reflect people’s ability to pay.
      • I support any persons right to stand forward for assessment to become registered as an architect.
      • I denounce anyone who, as a matter of principle, seeks to undermine the competent authority.

      As I posted before,

      • I am FOR Assessment.
      • I am FOR Registration.
      • I am FOR Regulation of the provision of services.

      The last thing we need are incompetents practicing as architects in Ireland.
      That might have implications for some current RIAI Members.
      But that’s another day’s work.


    • #817107


      You seem to have put a lot of thought into your reply to Paul and I agree with most of what you said.
      I would also suggest we a more transparent complaints process and a publication of the results.
      I realise this may restrict freedom of expression for some in a conflict resolution process.
      So I’m not looking to give unfettered access to minutes of negotiations, just the results.

      There are far too many “old boys” who seem to rely on incompetent underlings to do their work.
      This inevitably leads to problems down the line when such creatures cannot stand their ground when certs are asked for.
      Then gloss over the resultant costly mess that their clients have to pay for by engaging in “confidential alternative dispute resolution.”

      I think we have to give our “highly educated workforce” the credit they deserve and stop treating them like mushrooms.
      If there are practices whose work is consistently below par then then they need to be restricted or mentored or both.
      Or else there is no logical follow-on to their RIAI’s suggestion that restriction of use of Title protects the public.
      It shouldn’t be left to a public interest group to publish this information now we have a competent authority

      I’m not saying we need some sort of corrupt ratings agency like Standard and Poors applied to Architects.

      But the public does needs to know who the relative incompetents and cute hoors are in the profession.
      Eventually this will expose those who win competitions and achieve permissions by undue influence.
      This will lead us towards a merit-based profession and restrict the operations of the chancers.

      Which in turn will clear the way for vibrant new companies to step forward and prosper.


    • #817108

      I would also suggest we a more transparent complaints process and a publication of the results.

      Agreed. Appropriate for most every other profession too.
      The problem with behind closed doors resolutions is that all parties involved – the professional, the
      client, the professional body and certain members of that profession – all have an interest in trying
      to spread rumours about the final decision made so as to support their own positions on that issue.
      Innocent members of the profession may then have their view of the conflict influenced by the sly
      leaks and public affectations of each of these parties.
      Transparency would eliminate much of this carry-on.

      There are far too many “old boys” who seem to rely on incompetent underlings to do their work.

      Professionals may well farm out routine technical or donkey work to the underlings, according to
      their level of training.
      But there is no legal way that they may pass down the overall supervising responsibility.

      If there are practices whose work is consistently below par then then they need to be restricted or
      mentored or both.

      Well, it’s damn nice-sounding to offer the ‘mentoring’ option.
      But, apart from those few who erred non-maliciously due to inexperience/ignorance/misinterpretation/
      mistraining, the vast bulk of the offenders will have done so in a hard-nosed whatyagonnadoaboutit way.
      There cannot be any doubt in the mind of any decent professional as to what must be done with
      the latter cases.
      And there ought be no denial of due moral support to those in the profession whose duty is to apply
      those standards : those wanting the benefits of the profession ought share its responsibilities, tough
      as these may be on the delicate architecture of their community relations.

      One more thing.
      Many professional bodies have a small sub-committee that is supposed to sensitively deal with the
      matter of support for members under particular distress or hardship.
      In my ex institute – a UK body but this potential hazard is universal, surely – a dangerously ambitious
      (in its worst connotation) member got himself onto this sub-comm, him already being on other comms
      of the institute. This enabled him to
      a) Get the low-down on various senior members’ personal situations;
      b) Dispense funds budgeted to this sub-comm without any serious oversight or audit.
      The moral hazard consequent to senior members who received such benefits and whose own decisions
      could benefit the career of that sponsoring sub-comm member is obvious.

      While I accept that detailed auditing of such applications of funds is not desirable, it seems basic
      organizational sense therefore that any such sub-comm ought comprise :
      a) Some members of the profession in question whose lifestyle are painfully honest to a (wo)man;
      b) Some members of the general public whose circumstances, background and knowledge of
      the world and all its vicissitudes befit their appointment to this type of sub-comm work.

    • #817109

      Thank you for your thoughts on this subject, they are very interesting, particularly as they come from within the profession. However, I must point out that in Victorian times and before, engineers were either trained by the military (military engineers then made the transition to civilian engineers…… civil engineers) or they were practical academics in the fields of mathematics and physics such as Wren. I appreciate that there would have been apprentices, but these people where breaking ground and their endeavours would undoubtedly demonstrate their competence or expose their poor training. Such risks are just not acceptable in today’s built environment. The academic assessment is a 5 year course were the applicants are tested thoroughly and great confidence can then be held in their abilities. The institute’s assessment is just a token compared to t, how confident can we really be in their graduates. Look, the people who go for it, rise up through the ranks, the can do..ers, it is very romantic, but have we not learned from the boom. Our cities, towns and landscapes are in their hands, we have to be certain of their abilities

    • #817110

      I suppose that you got tired of reading all the indignation in the other threads on this issue from various
      sides to this controversy.

      I think what we are talking about here is essentially the sense of responsibility to DO the right thing .
      Having the necessary knowledge and skills to do the right thing (and one can acquire these in on-the-job
      apprenticeship + evening college training as well as in a full-time academic setting) is only one part of this task.
      The design, planning and build-quality supervision disasters of the past 16 years are as often due
      to people who have had the RIAI classic academic training as much as to those who didn’t have it.

      Poor professional standards are just a reflection of poor social values.
      In Ireland this results from the adoption, after failure’s of state-driven enterprise during the 1970s & ’80s,
      of the US model of individuals’ right to make themselves rich being given priority over the collective right
      to a decent and secure life for all ; the wealth acquired by the entrepreneurs being supposed to be kicked
      down to the rest of us.
      But we neglected to install the necessary stay-bars for this model to succeed in a country where social
      distributions had previously been only implemented for political advantage rather than by a sense of
      social enlightenment on the part of the wealthy and powerful.
      In the comedown from this model’s blowout, we’re rediscovering the value of effective regulation.
      Professional bodies as much as banks need to establish themselves on a more realistic basis if their
      members are to prosper in the years ahead.

      But it is clear to me that professional bodies in Ireland do not readily allow such change due to their
      undemocratic governance structures.
      So changes have to be imposed on all professions governing bodies by the state so as to enable
      them to be responsible to the public, member-driven, responsive to popular initiative, efficient and
      having minimal potential for corruption from within or without.

      Merely insisting on professionals to have their degrees + 2 years of supervised work by a full member of
      their profession is not going to stop the psycho-emotional rot that leads to bad professional practice :
      not everybody in the middle classes will content themselves with the limited joys and the slow advancement
      of middle-class living, you know . . .
      And those of us who are playing it straight or depending on them as professionals have to be able to
      tackle them without causing greater inconvenience to ourselves.

    • #817111


      I can only concur.

      Qualification or years spent in practice can offer a degree of assurance, but only an assessment offers a definitive assurance.


    • #817112

      I do agree, accountability is important and there has to be a coherent effort between the state and the relevant institution to demand higher standards. I support the Institutions registration process save the eligibility to qualify without an academic qualification. I accept that academic qualifications alone are not sufficient to guarantee successful design however I believe that it plays an integral role. I can only imagine this from the viewpoint of a Structural Engineer. I just could not fathom working in my profession without the necessary degree. However I accept your point which was quite elegantly put.

    • #817113

      There is some sort of assessment for non-academically qualified architects under the BCA deal.
      I am not one to say whether it is adequate or not — that’s one for the architects on this forum.
      But it is there.
      The real danger in all this is not those who made themselves architects the hard way from a
      starting position as an arch draughtsman and whose subsequent work experience attests to
      their capability and responsibility.
      It is rather those in the category (f)

      a person who—
      (i) has at least 7 years’ practical experience of performing duties commensurate with those
      of an architect in the State,
      (ii) is at least 35 years of age, and
      (iii) has passed a prescribed register admission examination;

      I’d be afraid that this category might be interpreted to include the cynical draughtsmen in
      every Irish town who take in young couples under the pretence of being cheaper than the
      local architects.

      I suppose than ONQ and others would be alarmed by category (b)

      a person who is a fellow or member of the registration body;

      It is likely than a share of academically qualified guys who’ve gone to the bad would be
      in that bracket.

      I’m not saying that professionals without the relevant degree should be allowed without clear
      evidence of their capability. I’m just saying that this academic content can be acquired on a
      apprenticeship + evening study basis.
      Mechanical engineers still do it in UK and other places; and mechanical is far more diverse
      than structural.
      Lawyers can still do it in several US states including California, New York & Virginia.
      Architects can do it in Canada.
      There is no good reason that I see why it wouldn’t be possible for a Leav Cert student with the
      right grades to make himself very useful (initially as tech clerk & CAD tech) in a structural eng
      office and attend classes in the evening.

    • #817114

      Anybody who works during the day and studies at night, in my opinion is more qualified than the conventional academic, they have amassed expertise from both sides of the track, I applaud the commitment and determination of those people. To be honest, I am impressed with those who achieve great designs without the backup of academia, I am just a little cautious with those whom have not formally proven themselves beyond an interview and an exam.
      In relation to mechanical being more diverse than structural, one must remember that structures is just one branch within civil. So a structural engineer has been trained in hydraulics, hydrology, structures etc. Also a Mechanical engineer does not practice every branch he covered at University, he will specialize in one area similar to a civil engineer who practices structure to become a structural engineer. A structural engineer’s diversification is a direct expression of the artistic freedom of the architect.

    • #817115

      The ‘grandfathers’, i.e. those whose experience on the job alone attained for them the right
      to RIAI membership, are in a small minority within the architect population.
      And the ‘grandfathers’ are also ‘sundowners’ as the clause allowing such entitlement to practice
      as RIAI members is supposed to lapse after a set period, I believe.
      If you want to, it’s easy to avoid them anyway as they’ll have no B.Arch. or Dip. Arch. before
      their RIAIs on their description. I should think that most of them would be well and grey by now.

      I appreciate your implied questioning of architect’s appreciation of structural aspects.
      This is one of the giveaways of cowboy architects doing rural homes : blind adherence to
      stupid internal forms because anything giving more effective use of space would take them out
      of their depth analytically — and calling in an engineer to help would deflate their pride and bump
      up the client’s final fees.

      Despite the bar on the word ‘architect’ it appears that there is no bar as yet on the use of
      ‘architectural services’ over the shopfronts of these cowboys.
      In the countryside, the whole thing is still a mess.

    • #817116

      do we HAVE to drag this up again. Covered ad nauseum in a multitude of threads elsewhere. Christ, CK will be back next

    • #817117


      I refer you to the DIT Structural Eng (hons) sylllabus.

      This is a 3 year specialisation after a first year in common with civil eng students.
      As you see it does no more of the additional aspects of civil eng than is strictly
      relevant for their impact on the work of the structural engineer.
      I do accept that in many other universities, there is a tendency for structural engineering
      to be taught as a specialisation within a general civil eng degree.
      But, clearly, the fact that all the academic requirements for entry to I.Struct. Eng.
      are met by the out and out structural eng courses like DIT’s shows that it is fully
      adequate for the training of competent professional struct engs.

      No way could the DIT course (which is a very good one, I believe) be compared in
      terms of breadth with a mechanical eng course.
      I accept what you say about post-qualification specialisation by mech engs.
      In fact, the final year streams in most B.E.(Mech.) courses already show a good
      measure of specialisation, e.g. into energy management, plant maintenance,
      mech. design, stress eng, and so on.
      But mech. engs — at least those in Ireland, those in places like Turin have option to
      specialise much earlier in their courses — still have a wider academic furrow to plough.



      This present thread is largely informative.
      There are no serious bones of contention in it, unlike the original ‘Sensitive Matter of BCA’.
      Besides, there’s so little action on the forum these days apart from ‘Irish Churches’ and
      ‘Discovering Dutch Billies Near You’ (some of them very marginal cases, I think) that the
      advertisers may be forced to go elsewhere . . .

    • #817118

      I actually did the struct. eng course and then an environmental add on degree in Ulster, it was always basically a civil degree by their own admission, it did focus heavily on structures, but it included hydraulics and all the standard civil stuff. This was a 40 hour a week course. One of my pals is a mech eng and there is no way he has a wider base of knowledge than me…..ha ha (just kidding)

    • #817119

      I actually did the struct. eng course

      Which one ?
      The DIT course described in my previous post ?
      Or another one in UCC or elsewhere ?

      Because to my eyes, there’s no hydraulics (bar basic fluid mechanics in Y2) on
      the DIT course and it seems to be structural design all the way.
      Many Irish engineers end up emigrating to countries with widely varying ground
      conditions, height allowances, project scale and so on.
      I think that the 3 years would be easy to fill out with structural studies and design
      alone without any regard to study of other aspects of civil engineering .

    • #817120

      In the DIT, i must look at the website and see what they are advertising, but we did complex fluid mechanics, hydraulic jumps, Darcy Weisbac, venturis, open channel analysis and design, waste water and potable water treatment process and design and all the structural stuff, it was a 4 year course with the first year general. We also did some Highway Engineering, in yr 3 ……… I think.

    • #817121

      Here’s another out and out structural course for you with minimal impact from other
      civil eng areas :-

    • #817122

      yes, they all have to cover a wide range, it is important to capture as much academic knowledge as possible at 3rd level, you will do your specialisation in your career depending on what industry is doing well, at present, this is clearly not structures, believe me, I know…..

    • #817123

      Look, I just can’t agree – insofar as I can make out anything like a coherent
      view coming from you. It seems like you didn’t even compare the syllabuses
      of the DIT and CIT courses with your own.

      To me if you want to become a structural engineer you have to learn as much
      about that area as you can — not just as to structures here in Ireland but all
      over the world : earthquake-zone structural practice, wind loading in tornado
      belts, analysis methods for complex architectural forms, use of novel/natural/
      indigeneous materials for load-bearing elements — and, not least, at least one
      major world language like Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese or Russian.
      If you want a successful career in structures, you have to pack up and go abroad.

      On the other hand, you just want to get an oul job in Ireland then take the sort
      of general course given in UCC or UCD.
      Just like so many more chameleons in our council engineering departments.
      “Roads” for a few years; then “water” for a while; then “waste”; then “traffic”;
      then a “manager” of something or other.
      Our cities and counties are a shabby monument to their lack of real expertise.
      Apart from being confidently expert in always hanging on to their old number.
      And the big stupid jeep going with it.

    • #817124

      Firstly Teak, you obviously did not understand my previous points, I explicitly informed the discussion that the syllabus you viewed on the website is not exactly in line with what is taught. The notion of trying to study structures through a keyhole and not covering a broad field is ridiculous, I’m sorry but that assertion could only come from someone who is not a structural engineer.
      You must understand that structures intertwine with all areas of engineering and architecture. To design a water retaining structure, you must have an understanding of fluid mechanics, to design waste water treatment networks, then you must have an understanding of geo-technics. The idea of academic training is not to produce working products, but to prepare practitioners by arming them with the fundamental knowledge to specialise in certain fields.
      You should not need to work in Germany or France or Australia to become a talented engineer, the mathematics for all buildings is the same albeit shell or dome structures are a little more complex or maybe it just seems that way as we are not that familiar with them. Our arch bridges are no different from their suspension bridges, they are just upside down and do not span as far. It is just as complicated to design a 1m spanning beam as it is to design a 10m spanning beam. The foundations for an Irish house are every bit as troublesome as the foundations for the Sydney Opera House, that is the case of course if the person designing them truly knows what he/she is doing and is in search of the most economic design.
      I am beginning to think that Bolton St. is getting a bit like Trinity and spending a lot of time selling themselves like a cut throat commercial entity, advertising USP’s , having the I.struct.E. set up base there. The name of the course being structural engineering is exactly just that, it is only a name, it has to be as their graduates would be insufficiently trained if they only had acquired knowledge in that field.

    • #817125

      The foundations for an Irish house are every bit as troublesome as the foundations for the Sydney Opera House

      I love it ! :clap:

    • #817126

      @teak wrote:

      The foundations for an Irish house are every bit as troublesome as the foundations for the Sydney Opera House

      I love it ! :clap:

      I don’t know if you are being sarcastic or what but the underlying principle is that mechanics do not respect the attributes of aestetics, a load load from a party wall creates the same bending stresses as a load from a shell.

    • #817127

      I think the trigger word in that quote was ‘Irish’ . . . . :thumbup:

      Unfortunately, at times it’s almost true . . .
      . . . because of the lack of official guidline documents on anything other than strip foundations.
      Not to mention the unfamiliarity of so many builders with non-strip foundations.

    • #817128

      I think the trigger word in that quote was ‘Irish’ . . . . :thumbup:

      Unfortunately, at times it’s almost true . . .
      . . . because of the lack of official guidline documents on anything other than strip foundations.
      Not to mention the unfamiliarity of so many builders with non-strip foundations.

    • #817129

      You should have a read of Structural Foundations by Curtain and Shaw, they have design methods for numerous foundations, its quite daunting really, the variety of solutions.

    • #817130

      Structural Foundation Designers’ Manual by W. G. Curtin, Gerry Shaw, Gary Parkinson and J. Golding
      you will find it on amazon

    • #817131

      Sure, I’ve looked through other foundation options.

      But if someone go outside what’s in the building regs, they may need to
      get the “new” structural elements signed off by an engineer.
      This, of course, adds to the costs for the home builder and gives him more
      to ponder on — both undesirable facets to the people getting a house built.

      To my view, the whole question of house foundations should be tidied up by
      the Dept of Environment drafting more comprehensive regulations that reflect
      the increased desirability of other foundations methods, particularly those
      which allow better insulation to underfloor & external wall foundation legs.

      Somehow, I do not anticipate any significant Gormley-style initiatives on
      construction design from Mr Hogan . . . . :yawn:

    • #817132

      You should have a look through this design manual, you will be amazed at all the different types of foundations to suit different conditions.

    • #817133

      It is extremely difficult to prepare a design code for foundations that covers a broad area and have a good balance with economy at the same time.
      The government will never take responsibility as foundattions are too volatile.

      You have to have an engineer to sign off on all structural elements anyway, so you are as well to get him to design the foundations. A good engineer will save his fee in reduced costs of materials and labour, so you will get it cheaper as well as it being insured. I recently designed a slab foundation for a nursing home that cost just 60% (in materials) of a traditional strip. Its not that the ground was particularly good or the loads were light, its just that I took the time to carry out the calcs.

      My fee was in the region of 10% of the cost, so they were up 30% with insurance……. a good deal

    • #817134

      You have to have an engineer to sign off on all structural elements anyway

      No, you do not need an engineer’s signing off on elements within the building regs.
      Only for those elements outside of it.
      Otherwise why have such specific regulations.

      I do not propose any changes other than the addition of alternative design specs
      for a small number of other common foundation types, e.g. raft, raft + ringbeam,
      beam-linked piles, etc.
      I don’t think that such regulations as may be appropriate to this group of house
      foundation systems on Irish ground would be too hard to set up.
      Looking at the existing situation, strip foundations are applied to a vast array of
      ground types, some of them being more suited to other kinds of foundation.
      And of course, the existing foundation regulations were developed at a time when
      insulation and other “green” aspects of house design had little or no status.
      Rather than going to an engineer to devise a specific foundation type, the builders
      who use that foundation – some of them have been patented – have already had the
      system in general approved for particular ground conditions and load ranges.

      I’m not against bespoke foundations being devised for a significant buildings by
      structural engineers. As you say, it may well be cost effective to do this.
      But for a < 2,000 sq ft house, really, devising customised foundations would not
      be cost effective. It would be be another case of roasting the homesteader. :thumbdown:

    • #817135

      I fully agree with Paul, complex subject tho’ – personal opinion & a separate issue but the registration should be a separate body from the Institute (as in UK)

      Mark Stephens

      Mark Stephens Architects County Mayo Ireland

    • #817136

      Utter nonsense, a conventional foundation for a standard 2000 sq ft house will cost in the region of 25k, to advise the homeowner that there are no savings to be made here is the real “roasting”. How can you possibly think that there is a standard layout for a raft or ground beam, you are off the radar when it comes to this subject. They are structural members that distribute load differently every 2 metres, you cannot possibly place a caveat for every possible situation or even a general one. It can only be designed by a qualified practitioner. I would compare it to trying to create a caveat to replace your GP…..impossible.
      Read your building regs more carefully , they are not advising you on what strips to use, they redirect you to the British Standards, the building regs are only indicative on structural issues. You should never bury money in the ground when you dont have to. You need any span over 5m signed off, you are supposed to be able to back up any structure by calculation if required to by building control.

      Teak, there are no general soil types in this country, they are all a mixture of sand, silt and clay, you have to treat each one as you find it. I spend nearly half my time as expert witness in litigation prosecuting and defending these attitudes, the “arrah it will do” ones, the kind of guys that you described who work in the councils, I am surprised hearing this from you.

      The architects I work with have beautiful open plans, vaulted roofs, split levels, major point loads ect, they could not possibly have there house completed successfully without the input of a structural engineer.

      Its all about a perfect balance between safety and economy, I provide my clients with savings that dwarf my fees.

    • #817137

      I have to concur with Paul.
      I recently responded to a poster on who stated that her architect had referred her builder to the building regulations when detailing cavity wall junctions using Quinn-Lite AAC Blocks.

      A fine product when used and retailed correctly and protected from site damage, the suggestion that the building regulations Part A was sufficient guideline with which to detail a building built with AAC blocks seemed like poor advice to me.

      For the record, I always involve an engineer in domestic work and I don’t mean “Even on Extensions”, I mean “Especially on Extensions”.

      Extensions are potential disasters waiting to happen as the loads on settled strip foundations can be multiplied by a factor to a point where pads or piles can be needed by the latest “no masonry return at openings” detail.

      Builders seldom employ feedback loops to assess the results of their handiwork, especially where they have overloaded corner points, and laypeople simply have no idea of the resolution of stresses involved at ground level at corner junctions.

      How much less clued in are the current crop of “iconic” designers who seem to think nothing of creating massive cantilevered overhangs without adequate foundation level support and distribution of forces, in order that their latest “storey-height fill-width folding door detail” looks good.

      Excellence in design is one thing, but you need a deep understanding of materials and structure to

      (i) achieve it on the first place and
      (ii) ensure it stands the test of time.



    • #817138

      Absolutely and very well stated. Extensions are always a potential disaster, taking out large opes in walls to create open plans sends all that load to 2 corners that could have already been near a point of incipient failure. Also, all new structures will settle to some degree, you cannot defy physics, but what about the building that it is now attached to, that building probably finished settling over 20 years ago….. sounds like differential settlement could be on the way. Obviously, there are numerous ways to deal with these issues, but to give your client real value for money, you need a good structural engineer to who will get hi/her teeth stuck into it. Likewise, when the architect is deciding the size, form and interior, they will go to great lengths to balance and harmonise the new design with the house on the relevant budget.

    • #817139

      I do not propose any changes other than the addition of alternative design specs
      for a small number of other common foundation types, e.g. raft, raft + ringbeam,
      beam-linked piles, etc.

      I should have said design guidelines, rather than design specs.

      By that I mean that self-builders ought be made aware within the DoEnv guidelines
      of foundation types other than the strip foundations, so that they may choose for
      themselves a foundation best suited to their site, house and pocket.

      Specialist foundations contractors would usually be aware of the specific arrangements
      needed for a given type of house. But it’s hard for the ordinary Joe to catch them out
      in the act of overdesign.
      Then there are the patented foundation systems which come in a limited set of sizes,
      each corresponding to a range of loadings. These people won’t customise as it would
      take away most of their margin.

      In commercial practice, I think you’d need a stronger base for your pitch than
      simply saying that a structural eng consultation will produce an adequate foundation
      for, say, 20% less than the strip foundation estimate for that same house spec.
      Because I’d see 10% of that saving going to the struct engineer.
      The 10% left is well within the competition margin amongst contractors.

      But I wish you well in your efforts for your local house-building clients.
      It would be interesting to see a struct engineer’s comparative breakdowns of quantities
      needed for several foundation systems for an “average” rural house to a modern specification.

      We must not forget, of course, that while the structural analysis input to the architecture
      courses is not comprehensive, and even if most architects are not au fait with blending
      efficient structural support with good building design, there really are some architects
      who are adept at this.

      But we really have gone way off course with this. :angel:
      Have your rejoinder and over and out.

    • #817140

      For the record Teak, I am competent at structural design, having usually achieved “B” grades (70-84%) in college and I still use a Structural & Civil engineer.


    • #817141

      . . . . and I still use a Structural & Civil engineer

      For fairly conventional new houses ?

    • #817142

      Ok guys, my apologies, I have been in Spain for the past 3 weeks with the kids, a well deserved and earned break.
      Firstly, Teak, you are missing the point, Builders, Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Draftsmen etc cannot design structural elements, their courses only explain an appreciation of an extremely complex topic. You seem to think that there is a special range for foundations, in other words, that if you spend lots of money you will guarantee yourself sound footings and if you try and economise, you might push the boat out too far, I hate to be non diplomatic, but you are not aware of the basic principles, honestly read the first few pages of those manuals and you will get an overview of how it works. You cannot even begin to design even basic elements without being competent at quantitative analysis and there is no profession other than structural engineering that can perform this branch of analysis. The engineers are trained in this in their 1st year. The architecture and quantity surveying course does the basics of it but their treatment of it is far too simple to use in real life. And as I say that is only the beginning of design.
      I hate to be making negative posts but I find the comments disrespectful to my profession and the fact that they could not be further off the mark makes them even more annoying.

    • #817143

      I think you rather missed the whole point, yourself.

      My last post related to two things.

      1. A desire for more guidance within the Building Regs for non-strip foundation types.
      Having would-be homesteaders aware of all their foundation options ought help struc engs to get more business also.
      I assume you do not object to this.

      2. A doubting that the savings derived from having a struct eng specify adequate but cost-effective non-strip foundations for a house would exceed that eng’s own fees by much more than part of a non-strip foundation contractor’s profit margin.
      I say this because, while someone like you could make up a more optimum DESIGN for a given house’s foundation, you would not honestly be able to say that, when your custom design is implemented on the site, that it would turn out to be MUCH CHEAPER than the closest standard ringbeam + raft foundation design by Supergrund, Viking or whoever.
      This is simply a consequence of the extra cost of customised elements for the foundation, e.g. for a ringbeam + raft foundation, the EPS channel section for the ringbeam would need to be made to non-stock size and would demand new tooling to be made by the EPS moulder. It would be cheaper to use stock-issue EPS section – even if it is overdesigned – plus more concrete than is strictly required than to make a one-off EPS mould and use the optimum amount of concrete.
      I think that ought be clear enough to you now.

      Obviously, as the size of a building increases, the economics tend to favour custom designed foundations.
      But for a <2,000 sq ft house, I doubt if a struct eng can justify his involvement based on cost savings alone.
      (I accept that there are a few other areas where a struc /civ eng can positively contribute to a self-build job.)

      If you can illustrate an example of a given house plan where what I suggest is NOT the case, then I am more than interested.
      Just don’t expect me to pay you for your sample estimates !
      I’d like to keep my few pound for a trip to Spain myself, and not for a deserved holiday either . . . .

    • #817144

      Teak, you have a way with words but trust me this is my area…….
      I was referring to general foundations were as you seem to be referring passive houses only. Now all those firms you mentioned do not design foundations, they get structural engineers to do it for them, I know because I did the design for an independent engineer, who was hired by them, I won’t mention the firm’s name.
      Foundations are not governed to a large extent by what is sitting on them, they are primarily governed by what they are sitting on. Most foundation failures occur due to variations in the soil type. In other words, you can have fantastic ground, but if it varies from fantastic to great within the footprint, well then you will have differential movement. What constitutes failure is anything that costs your client money to rectify. Those companies will take zero responsibility for any failure of any structural element, I have a legal case on right now as I type with one. They will tell you that the polystyrene can resist 120kn/sqm, it can of course in a controlled lab, however there are many more problems at play here and if only the cases I am involved with got media attention, you would all know about them and be better off for it.
      You cannot design foundations by taking plans off a shelf and using prefabricated panels, otherwise we would all have post tensioned foundations and they would only need to be a few inches thick due to the economy of post tensioned units.
      Look, the only person you can take legal action against for poor foundations is a structural engineer, you cannot sue your architect, builder, manufacturer… unless their specific qualified involvement was flawed, I am in the courts and as one Judge put it , you cannot expect to sue your solicitor for poor medical advice, the onus is upon you to seek out the correct practitioner.
      Why would you pay an individual to design your foundations, which he doesn’t know how to do in the first place, he will oversize them because he is unsure, they could still fail because it was oversized in areas of redundancy and then you cannot sue him for professional incompetence anyway, you have to sue him for fraud, his professional indemnity company won’t cover it because he was not covered to do it in the first place. I mean this story is on continuous replay in our courts.
      And listen all those ring beams with the insulated bedding are hilarious, you can put all the steel you want in a foundation, it is not going to prevent it from sinking it is just going to prevent the concrete from breaking which isn’t much use when half of your house is 2 inches lower than the other half . (RC is semi flexible and not rigid like people think)
      I design bespoke foundations for all structures, they are fit for purpose (most important), they are economic and can be adapted to suit insulation systems and if it goes wrong ………. My PI will cough up.

    • #817145

      I will do a few sketches for you to explain my point about why it is cheaper to cutom design at a later date

    • #817146

      I see your point now.

      I await sample foundation in fullness of time.

    • #817147

      C’mon – I’m dying to see the sketches!

    • #817148

      These are three simple generic options but each project nearly always offers its own opportunities. These options are aimed at conditions where soft ground is encountered for considerable depth.
      I will post a few more when I get time for better ground and differential ground , which is extremely common.

      Excuse the art, I am not as talanted in this area as you lot.


    • #817149

      One example with good ground…….
      This is another example on how you can save up to 50% concrete under all the walls and you also do not need thickenings under all the walls unlike a strip.
      Now to anyone who is just joining this discussion, this is just a simplified example to help express a point, there is alot more to it so dont go running off to carry out any construction work without consulting your engineer :thumbup:

    • #817152

      Looking at the stiff-edge raft proposal, suitable for firm ground.

      Were you to include an insulating pad inside the external wall for heat-loss prevention,
      would there be much additional modification needed ?

      I assume that, since your main concern is differential settling, the whole house footprint
      would have to be examined by the engineer after the initial excavation cut ?

    • #817153

      Sketch exactly where you would propose to put it and I will let you know.
      To make this work successfully, you need to be able to judge the bearing capacity, soil type(s), colour, seasonal water table, texture, consistency to list the most common criteria, if you are confident with this, then you could do it.

    • #817154

      The situation I have in mind is like this

      As you see, the load from the floor is transferred via steel ties (through the external wall
      insulation) onto the perimeter foundation base.
      I never expect the underfloor EPS to support anything other than the weight of the
      floor concrete while it sets.

      So, to avoid differential settling one would need to climb down into the excavated perimeter
      trench and assess the load-bearing capability of the ground below the “cut”, right ?
      Take samples of soil at various depths down the trench and along the full perimeter of it.

      As for water table, the perc test deep trench was done in a wet March and even then it
      was > 7 feet.

      The usual surface drainage measures to take topsoil water around the area of the house
      rather than allowing it to go under it would naturally be taken, so this will account for any
      surges in the normal water table level.

    • #817151

      The load from that floor is not transferred to to the perimeter foundation. It is transferred down through the insulation to the hardcore. That floor is a straightforward ground bearing floor slab. If the insulation does what is says on the tin, then the stress will be substantially reduced by the time it hits the subsoil. The insulation in that sketch is playing a critical structural role.

      No, you never interfere with the soil below the cut, you excavate away from the property on both sides and draw strike lines between the excavation pits to develop a picture of what is going on. The soil beneath the footprint, should always be left undisturbed below formation level.

      2.1m is not that safe, if the underside of your foundation is at 1m below ground level, then you only have 1.1m to the water table. You have to have a min. of the same width as your foundation to satisfy building regs. There is a certain area of soil beneath the foundation that gets stressed called the “bulb of pressure”, if it gets wet, then the bearing capacity is significantly reduced, in Sands, the bearing capacity reduces by 50% when wet. Examine the sides of your pit for rusty stains (deposits of iron oxide) they will show you the height of the winter water table.

      Not mad about that detail to be honest, it would require gound ground conditions and an excellent structural performance from the insulation, I wonder if those companies ever considered “creep” taking a toll on the insulation. This occurs from long term compression and causes concrete to shrink over time. The concrete is reinforced with extra steel in areas of significant compression.

    • #817150

      I’d always assumed that the detailing shown was just a variant of the Supergrund system.
      Thanks for clarifying that.
      Now I know what I need to get extra — SS tie-rods.

      I agree totally that having floors on EPS is daft.
      Questionable strength of EPS, variation in local strength of the EPS blocks, creep in all
      ductile polymers, outgassing of blowing agent, etc all make this a one for the birds.
      On the rust band marking idea, I doubt if these would be evident in a brown clay ->
      dark bluebrown clay section.

      The water ingress to a 2.4 m trench over 4 days was 400 mm but a share of this was
      run-in from upfield topsoil flow.

      I think I see now that a liaison with a local struc eng is expedient.
      Unfortunately, it looks like another inspection trench will have to be dug to satisfy him
      as to the water-table depth and such.

    • #817155

      To prevent speculation, I confirm that the Architects’ Alliance of Ireland has not appointed Ernst & Young as its auditors.
      The reason for that firm’s recent decision to resign as auditors to the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (Limited) must be found elsewhere.

    • #817156

      note from Agenda of RIAI AGM :-

      The retiring auditors Ernst & Young have stated that:
      “In accordance with Section 185(2) of the Companies Act 1990, we confirm that there are no circumstances connected with our resignation which we consider should be brought to the attention of the members or creditors of the Company.”

    • #817157

      It appears that the Registration Body has made it possible for Irish graduates without Part III to become registered via the Section 15 provisions of the BCA 2007.

      This arises through its decision that the “marginal note” may be disregarded when interpreting that Section. Section 15(a) reads:-
      “a national of a Member State who holds evidence of a formal qualification as an architect listed in Annex V, point 5.7.1 of the Directive that satisfies the minimum training conditions referred to in Article 46 of the Directive and which is accompanied, if appropriate, by a certificate listed in Annex V, point 5.7.1 of the Directive”.

      It seems that Section 15 may now be understood to address EU/EEA nationals with Directive compliant Irish qualifications unless those persons are provided for elsewhere in Part 3 of the Act – which is not the case for Irish graduates without Part III.

      The Directive compliant qualifications for Ireland are:-
      1. Degree of Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch. NUI)
      2. Degree of Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)
      (Previously, until 2002 – Degree standard diploma in architecture (Dip. Arch))
      3. Certificate of associateship (ARIAI)
      4. Certificate of membership (MRIAI) – This last category is provided for in Section 14(2)(b)

      Despite all the surrounding guff, the extract below provides clarification. (The author is the Registar. The context is the eligibility of Irish Nationals with Directive compliant qualifications awarded by another Member State. They were overlooked in the drafting of Part 3. It is the further consequences of the legal advice referred to in the extract that is, I believe, of significance to Irish graduates.)
      The central matter is found in this sentence:-
      “Subsections (1)(a)-(c) refer to nationals of any member State obtaining qualifications in any Member State”.

      “The legal advice can be summarised as follows. There appears to be a conflict between the marginal note attaching to section 15 and the specific text of section 15 itself and also article 1 of the Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC). The provisions of section 15 and 16 intend to cover the position of eligibility for registration in the register of architects insofar as such persons are not already covered by section 14 dealing with holders of qualifications from the republic of Ireland. Sections 15 and 16 of the Act purport to make provisions in relation to ‘holders of qualifications from other States’ as envisaged by section 14(2)(c). Section 15 is comprised of numerous subsections. Subsections (1)(a)-(c) refer to nationals of any member State obtaining qualifications in any Member State. Subsection (1)(d) refers to a national of a Member State obtaining qualifications in his or her own Member States. Subsection 1(e) relates to any person who obtains qualifications in a non Member State but has such qualifications recognised by a Competent Authority in any Member State. Subsection 1(f) refers to non Member State nationals who are eligible to have qualifications recognised in the republic of Ireland via and international agreement. Subsection 1(g) refers to nationals of Member States who are not eligible under the preceding categories but who qualify under any of the derogations.
      The terms of the Directive, and in particular article 1 are also very relevant. Article 1 provides for recognition of qualifications obtained in another Member State without reference to nationality. It is also important to have regard to section 2(3) of the Building Control Act which provides that “a word or expression used in part 3,4,5, or 7 and which is also used in the Directive has the same meaning in that part as it has in the Directive”. The query was as to whether the relevant provisions in the Directive take precedence in the event of any conflict with similar provisions in the Building Control Act 2007 and apart from the general body of European law which recognises the supremacy of European law in relation to conflicts with National Law, section 2(3) of the Building Control Act 2007 affords the provisions in article 1 priority in the event of any conflict with the provisions contained in sections 16 and 17. The Interpretation Act 2005 was also consulted in the review of this issue and based on the fact that the legal opinion is that sections 15 and 16 do not give rise to obscurity, supported the opinion that the marginal note in Section 15 could be disregarded.”

      You will have seen that Section 15(a) is qualified thus:-
      “that satisfies the minimum training conditions referred to in Article 46 of the Directive and which is accompanied, if appropriate, by a certificate listed in Annex V, point 5.7.1 of the Directive”.

      Those qualifying remarks need to be addressed:-

      1. It is important to understand that according to the European Commission, the certificate is not regarded as a qualification;
      2. In its contribution to the European Commission’s Evaluation of the PQD, Ireland’s Competent Authority has stated that the Annex V Irish degrees fulfil the Article 46 standards (which we know anyway);
      3. A certificate from Ireland was added in June this year to Annex V (as well as one from the UK). There was none at all before.

      Three reasons may be given to show that it would be inappropriate to impose the certificate requirement on Irish graduates applying under Section 15. These are:-
      (i) Doing so would make for a circular argument because the certificate amounts to proof of registration;
      (ii) There was no such certificate tabled for Ireland at the time of the passing of the Act – so its imposition was obviously not in the minds of the legislators, thus any such demand is void;
      (iii) Irish nationals, with UK qualifications, have already been registered through Section 15 without having such a certificate.

      I have presented my personal observations here. My purpose is limited to suggesting to anyone who might benefit (i.e. Directive compliant graduates) that the matter may warrant proper investigation by a legally trained person. I will be happy to provide supporting documents.

    • #817158

      @batten wrote:

      note from Agenda of RIAI AGM :-

      The retiring auditors Ernst & Young have stated that:
      “In accordance with Section 185(2) of the Companies Act 1990, we confirm that there are no circumstances connected with our resignation which we consider should be brought to the attention of the members or creditors of the Company.”

      Although it reveals no more to the inquisitive reader, here is the full text of the relevant letter:-

      The Directors, The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, 8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2 21 September 2011

      Dear Sirs

      In accordance with Section 185 of the Companies Act 1990, we write to notify you of our resignation as auditors of your company. This resignation takes effect from the time at which you receive this letter.

      In accordance with Section 185(2) of that Act, we confirm that there are no circumstances connected with our resignation which we consider should be brought to the attention of the members or creditors of the company.

      In accordance with Section 185(3) of that Act, we will, within 14 days after the date of service of such notice, send a copy to the Registrar of Companies.

      In accordance with Section 161A(1Xb) of the companies Act, 1963, we will, within one month after the date we cease to hold office, notify the Irish Auditing & Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA) that we have ceased to hold office and in accordance with Section 161(2Xa), send them a copy of this letter.

      Yours faithfully, Ernst & Young

    • #817159

      Here, in the inimitable words of the Registration Body, is the certificate description newly added to Annex V, point 5.7.1.
      It applies to Irish trained architects who seek professional recognition elsewhere in Europe:-

      “Certificate of fulfillment of qualifications requirements for professional recognition as an architect in Ireland issued by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI).”

      In my earlier post on this topic, my own wording was somewhat unclear. I used the word “qualification” to mean two things. On one hand I meant academic qualification and on the other I meant requirement or condition.
      Thus, my meaning is that the required certificate is not treated as an academic qualification by the European Commission, it is only evidence of registration in the Home State.

      The disregarded Section 15 “marginal note” reads:-

      “Registration of nationals from certain other states — main categories of such nationals”

    • #817160

      It is about the class of architect designated as MRIAI(IRL).

      My purpose is to underline the absolute necessity, when discussing Registration, of reading behind every assertion made by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Limited.
      My own opinion is that the more often it repeats a “devastating” observation, the more need is there for those observations to be examined.

      The Legal Opinion given to the Royal Institute on the 23rd September 2010 by Gerard Hogan SC (who is now a judge) is being aired anew by its Director, who holds the Statutory Office of Registrar for Architects. Point 12 of that Opinion states:-

      “One could not plausibly so suggest that Ireland (or any other Member State) was free to recognise additional categories of persons for purely domestic purposes so that they would not be eligible to avail of the Directive for the purposes of mutual recognition for establishment purposes.”

      [In that extract from Point 12, “mutual recognition for establishment purposes” has the same meaning as “automatic recognition in the EU/EEA” which appears in the quotation below.]


      The following statement, headed “RIAI Member and Register Admission Routes” is from the RIAI Ltd web site –
      { }:-

      “RIAI Membership (MRIAI) is open to you if you can demonstrate through one of the routes provided that you meet all of the requirements for independent practice in Ireland.
      MRIAI is a listed qualification in Directive 2005/36/EC and, with an accompanying certificate (if applicable), confers eligibility to seek automatic recognition in all other EU/EEA Member States.

      An alternate architect membership affix MRIAI(IRL) is open to you if you demonstrate that you meet the requirements for registration in the State set out in the Building Control Act 2007 but cannot, at this time, demonstrate compliance with the requirements of Directive 2005/36/EC for automatic recognition in the EU/EEA.

      Which affix applies to you is decided by the Board of Architectural Education Admissions Committee when your application for membership is being considered.”

      I will borrow from the Registrar’s retort to the BAI decision that the RIAI (Ltd) radio campaign was misleading, by saying
      “I am just a simple man” – for I guess it takes the wisdom of a Judge to reconcile these opposing statements.

      PS – I will be pleased to see the full text of Gerard Hogan’s other published Opinion which, as I recall, gave specific authority to the implementation of MRIAI(IRL).

    • #817161

      The way this works for unqualified architects is very simple.
      The competent authority has offered them a way to be registered.
      If they want to be registered they must grasp this offer with both hands.

      The competent authority has been deemed as such by an Act of the Oireachtas.
      Regardless of what any Senior Counsel may opine, under Irish law what they say goes.
      If RIAI register them but their stance is then found to be flawed they would have a good case.

      If they aren’t going to take up this offer, this implies they (i) don’t want to be registered, or (ii)tested.
      If its the former they are acting arbitrarily and illogically or else they may be willing to give up using the Title.
      If its the latter, this suggests (i) they know in themselves they’re not up to it or (ii) they were tested before and failed.

      If they want to keep using the Title Architect they must try their best to become registered or they’ll have no locus standii.
      The Building Control Act 2007 came into operation on May 1st 2008 and that means next year its coming up to its third anniversary.
      Given the recent Priory Hall disaster, IMO the RIAI will need to be seen to exert its authority and unregistered architects are a soft target.

    • #817162

      For the record.

      At present I am scrambling over myself chasing new clients, chasing old debts and paying my bills – but in the middle of it all I am preparing for registration, which for me is Option C.

      I have been heartened by the support received to date from many sources including clients who are willing to sign statements confirming my appointment as their architect and and professional colleagues who are willing to support my evidence of establishment.

      I have spent many months uncovering what few documents that remain, confirming my involvement in projects in the ‘Nineties and compiling photographs of all the built work I have design and/or certified.

      I have request confirmations of my qualifications to be forwarded to the RIAI by both Bolton Street and Trinity College and have informed the Registrar of my intent.

      Why am I doing this – i.e. not just Registering but also joining the RIAI?

      I did a Management Course to get accreditation for some of the skillsets I’ve learned over the years in professional practice.
      This course made me assess my office in a dispassionate way in terms of the market in which I’m trading at the moment.
      Unless I was willing to start another professional career almost from scratch attaining registration was the logical step.
      Looked at professionally and logically in terms of market competition and keeping current – this was the way to go.

      1. Read my previous post above – its the law and without making a valid attempt to become registered I would have no locus standii should legal action be taken against me.
      2. There are signs that the RIAI is going through a process of self-assessment and improvement in terms of its documentation and advice – I want to contribute to it.
      3. At present I trade at a titular disadvantage against people with less experience and in some cases less competence – its hard to win in that market.
      4. There are 2,850 RIAI members – I know of several senior members who have not acted competently in the past 10 years – cannot let that spread.
      5. It costs the same to Register in Ireland as it does to join the RIAI – you’d be very foolish not to take advantage of a market condition like that.
      6. I a member of the Architectural Association of Ireland which offers CPD-rated lectures and site visits – but the RIAI is at a professional level.
      7. There is no other organization of similar standing or statutory empowerment – the Architect’s Alliance unfortunately failed of its promise.

      I wish all other candidates the best in their attempts to become Registered.

      If archiseek is down (very regularly these days) and you need advice or a shoulder or a kick in the butt I can be contacted via

    • #817163

      Two posts previously I warned that the RIAI would see the unregistered as soft targets and this week they have decided to act.

      I have started another thread on this subject here because the matter has moved out of the “possible” to the “real”.


    • #817164

      This Saturday 10th December, an Open Meeting for self-taught architects will be held to discuss registration, the RIAI Ltd “Compliance Campaign” and lobbying for an inclusive registration system for architects. The booking form and further information can be found via a LINK on the opening page of the Architects’ Alliance web site –

    • #817165

      Some of the Current Registration requirements are here

      Take note that there is a new RIAI Certificate mentioned in the third column.

      This hasn’t changed as far as I can see.

      The above is inked to from here

      Which is linked to from here

      Take note this comment

      “The authorities in some EU countries require architects to have a certain amount of experience before allowing them to carry the title of an architect. They may not apply the same requirement to you if this is not required under the rules of your own country.”

      This creates additional barriers to architects practising in Ireland and Britain which foreign nationals may not have to comply with.


    • #953069
      E Soames

      “The more openness, the better”
      Below is my transcript of an open letter from past President Eoin O Cofaigh.
      The letter is written to Carole Pollard, the current RIAI President.
      I am neither a friend nor a colleague of the author, but I am keen to support a discussion on RIAI governance.
      (I am awaiting the administrator’s acceptance of a new topic/thread entitled RIAI GOVERNANCE. The transcribed letter is to be the opening POST.)
      Whilst the contents of the letter are of special significance to the profession, there is also an important public interest aspect.
      The public deserves exceptionally high governance standards from a private, limited liability company such as the RIAI.
      That special obligation arises because:-
       The RIAI benefits from a system of State awarded self-regulation (although clearly out-dated, this particular Closed Shop remains firmly entrenched).
       The RIAI is authorised thereby to exercise its power over the livelihoods of others, be they RIAI members or not.
       The RIAI collects and retains the Statutory registration charges.

      6 UPPER MOUNT STREET, DUBLIN 2 21 September 2016
      Ms Carole Pollard, President,
      The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland,
      8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.
      Dear President,
      1 Introduction
      Thank you for your work, and your efforts to reconstruct the Institute since taking office.
      Two things in particular which you have said have resonated with the undersigned.
      The first was when, writing at the time of Ms Meghan’s appointment as CEO, you talked about promoting a culture of transparency in the Institute, and gave concrete evidence of steps in that regard.
      The second was at the recent AGM, when you talked about a fresh start for the Institute in relation to protecting the Members’ interests and in focussing Institute activity on tasks relevant to the membership.
      These remarks were echoed by the CEO who several times asked the pitifully small number of us in attendance to tell her, if there were things we wanted done or felt should not be done.
      This is all heartening, and the possibility of a “new beginning” is welcome.
      There are three nettles which the Council and the Officers, led by your good self, must grasp openly and honestly before a certain cohort of the membership can feel any possibility of a reconciliation with the Institute.
      2 To honestly and openly account to us over the cost of the CEO’s final year
      We have been told of the €238,000 settlement, €12,300 legal fees and €54,000 spent on the Institute’s own legal fees.
      This does not include Mr. Graby’s remuneration by way of salary, pension contributions or otherwise from January to September.
      This seems to exceed €250,000.
      Mr. Graby cost us close to €600,000 in 2015.
      This equals the full deficit in the accounts for 2015.
      We are paying for this, and we are told we will have to pay increased membership fees in years to come because of recurring deficits.
      The settlement, following legal advice, which advice cost the members a staggering sum – almost five times what we are told we paid Mr. Graby’s lawyers – was to avoid “reputational damage to the Institute”, as the Treasurer told us, in the event that Mr. Graby had brought proceedings against the Institute.
      But there was greater reputational damage done to the Institute among at least some of its own members, by the failure to disclose the full details of the settlement and the events which led up to it.
      And €54,000 in fees to the Institute’s own lawyers would have gone a very long way in an in camera Workplace Relations Commission hearing.
      How do Council stand over a situation where, in order to avoid reputational damage, they agreed to a situation where Mr. Graby was to cost us almost €600,000 in 2015?
      This is €250 per registered Member, those 2,416 of us who pay the annual registration fee.
      How many members’ annual income does this represent?
      We were also told that Mr. Graby had no written contract with the RIAI.
      But did not your predecessor in office but one make an agreement with Mr. Graby during her period in office?
      Why were we not told this?
      Putting the Members’ concerns at the heart of RIAI activity involves facing up to the cost to every one of us of the last five years and of 2015 in particular.
      We need to hear the full truth, so as to then set it aside, and to move on.
      The AGM accounts did not provide this in relation to Mr. Graby’s last year and the presentations at the AGM did not help in any way.
      Council should give us, the subscription-paying registered Members who are footing the bill, a full and frank disclosure of the costs of all this and of why the chose to impose this burden upon us.
      3 To honestly and openly account to us over the Institute’s changed policy on BC(A)R
      At the AGM, the Honorary Secretary, in his capacity as Chairman of the BC(A)R Steering Group said that “there are problems for liability with the wording of the Certificates”.
      That is the first time anybody at an RIAI Top Table has ever said that.
      Mr.Kennedy’s 2015 RIAI submission to the DoECLG never mentions “certifier liability”.
      It has taken three years for the RIAI to tacitly admit that those members who opposed the system were right.
      Why so long? Why so hesitantly and secretively?
      In the teeth of RIAI hostility, some of us obtained and paid from our own pockets for Senior Counsel’s Opinion which explained this problem clearly, about S.I.80 of 2013 and again about S.I.9 of 2014.
      The response of the President of the day was to say that “BC(A)R is a great chance for architects” while Mr. Graby welcomed the regulations in a press release.
      Our concerns were over-ridden.
      BC(A)R was rather a “great chance for the RIAI”.
      By restricting those who could sign the certificates to paid-up people on the register of architects, the RIAI hoped to secure its subscription income for many years to come.
      And this ignored the liability and workload implications for the membership.
      At least some of us can feel proud that we played a role in getting the BC(A)R burden lifted from members working on one-off housing – while noting the Institute’s, happily failed, opposition to S.I. 365 of 2015.
      It is time to acknowledge that BC(A)R is and has been a disaster for the profession, in terms of ongoing open-ended liability, in terms of lowly-paid workload for those who feel obliged to provide the service – including those practices using fees from Certifier roles to trade their way back from near-insolvency.
      Listing BC(A)R in the middle of a long list of concerns is the opposite of openness and cannot bring any fresh start.
      Mr.Kennedy’s strategy of trying to change the Civil Liabilities Act will consign the profession to decades with no change.
      Putting the Members’ concerns at the heart of RIAI activity involves, firstly, acknowledging openly to the membership, and then facing up to, the damage done and still being done to architects by BC(A)R.
      The recent publication of new Architect/Client agreements is welcome, but the failure to take on board the concerns a number of us articulated in Merrion Square at a day-long workshop now already two years ago is incomprehensible.
      The Institute’s job is to protect its own members.
      This is not happening.
      The BC(A)R problems are being ignored.
      Furthermore, the continuing absence of any advice to or support for those members who realize that the roles of Assigned Certifier and Design Certifier carry intolerable risk and who refuse to engage in the roles confirms the belief among many members, the writer included, that the Institute’s main objective is to support BC(A)R in its present form rather than oppose it.
      The CEO invited feedback from the Membership on tasks which need to be done.
      Well, one urgent set of tasks is to support those Members who want nothing to do with the BC(A)R Certifier roles.
      What about a set of BoQ and specification clauses to have this task priced by the tendering contractors and built into the Preliminaries?
      This would get our clients a good price for same, as it would be part of a competitive tender.
      What about a set of letters to clients to explain why we are not doing these roles and proposing alternatives?
      My office has such preliminaries and such letters.
      I am willing to lead a RIAI BC(A)R workgroup share them with colleagues with a view to pooling wisdom, and to look at all ways to support colleagues who so wish, on condition that this has Institute endorsement and support.
      I made the offer already in April 2014.
      I repeat it. I await the call.
      4 Governance
      You have taken steps towards better governance through advising the members of the new CEO’s basic salary – although not the full remuneration package? – and have led through personal example by terminating your company’s service contract with the Institute.
      You have also had the EGMs to reorganise the Articles of Association.
      Some of us opposed the restructuring, on grounds which need not be repeated here.
      The majority of the small number of members who expressed any interest in the matter disagreed with us.
      That’s fine: time, about three years I believe, will again tell whose judgement was correct.
      But the heady excitement of a strategic restructuring of the RIAI does not address the prosaic day-to-day governance issues with which a number of us have been concerned and over which we resigned from Council this time two years ago.
      Charity sector governance weaknesses are widespread in Ireland.
      Rehab and OCI are a few in a long list.
      The Institute has similar problems.
      The first step in solving problems is to admit them.
      The new Articles of Association deflect attention from the real day-to-day governance problems of controlling senior management excesses and accounting for the members’ money.
      When the previous Treasurer brought the then Council’s attention to the €500,000 paid to the Graby-family Bluebloc companies, he got little or no support.
      In 2015, the Institute spent the best part of €100,000 on legal advice.
      Is this not a profligate use of the members’ hard-earned money?
      Is this really good governance?
      The old set of Articles of Association prohibited payment of RIAI funds to Council members.
      Why does the new set not likewise prohibit?
      The members earn their living from the practice of architecture.
      The support which the RIAI provides through Practice Services is expensive and central to our concerns.
      You recently announced the strengthening of the practice staffing through the appointment of a new person on the Practice staff.
      But Mr. Graby had already appointed that person some years back!
      Perhaps they are indeed the best qualified person for the job: one hopes so.
      But the membership is now paying for a practice division whose Director and Assistant Director studied architecture in the same school and at the same time as Mr. Graby, more or less the same age as he, now 71, and first appointed when he was in charge.
      May we have your assurance that all contracts and competencies in this area of central concern to practising members are as the membership would want them to be?
      The 2015 accounts record a €17,000 payment to Bluebloc, the Graby family company.
      May we have your assurance that this contract has been reviewed and either that no more suitable provider of the services which the membership has paid for from Bluebloc is available, or that the contract has been terminated?
      The accounts record substantial payments to the Institute from RIAI Insurance Services.
      This is, of course, commission which the Institute receives for directing business through Marsh to selected PII and other underwriters.
      This year, PII premia are up by 20-40%!
      How much of this increase is to flow to the Institute?
      Is this an honest way to take money from the membership?
      May we have your assurance that the management of RIAI Insurance Services has been reviewed?
      Is it time to retire the present directors, who have given years of voluntary service?
      Is Mr. Graby to stay on as a director, even though retired as CEO?
      We deserve to be told: the money flowing through the company is the members’ own money.
      Council made a voluntary disclosure to Revenue and paid €66,000 related to income tax on money paid to others.
      Were any efforts made to find out whether those people had already paid the relevant tax?
      If not, why not?
      Insofar as those payments were to members, what effort was made to acquaint those people of their ethical duty to pay whatever tax was owed on money paid them?
      Why should I be required – as I and we all have been – to pay income tax on money on which some other member owes the tax?
      Did these people include senior members of the Institute? Council Members, or Officers?
      Can we have any reassurance on all of this?
      The Treasurer favours a substantial increase in subscriptions.
      Presumably the Institute will be seeking the Minister’s approval for the increased register retention fee.
      Can you assure us that the Institute will account openly and honestly to the Minister about the true cost of maintaining the register, and not, as when in 2008 the submission “proved” a per capita cost of registration of €578, purport to show that this cost is now €600 per head, as a prelude to charging us that amount?
      Members’ incomes have recovered in the past couple of years and are already back to 1996 levels.
      Is this kind of increase in compulsory fee really a proper discharge of Council’s fiduciary duties to the membership?
      How do they justify this beyond saying “we need the money”?
      In any event the arrangement which paying the same fee for registration only, as that for registration and full RIAI membership is to suggest that RIAI membership has no value.
      This is a nonsense.
      The salary of the new CEO represents a saving each year of, give or take, €150,000 on that of her predecessor.
      Add to this – all in the 2015 accounts and deficit – the €238,000 golden handshake, €65,000 on legal fees for Mr. Graby’s retirement; €66,000 on the voluntary back payment of tax to the Revenue; €35,000 on recruitment and temporary staff – and €544,000 comes off the expenditure for 2016.
      At constant rates, and not counting the Corrigan House income, the deficit will be €73,000.
      Do you really need to raise the subscriptions?
      The mooted increase looks very like a monopoly body abusing its position to charge a captive membership as much as it sees fit without considering that membership’s ability to pay.
      Is this the sort of Institute we are set to have?
      5 Conclusion
      The above is not a complete list of matters to be faced up to, but to face up to these would be a good start.
      Please circulate this letter to the Council.
      I myself am circulating it to a number of colleagues and if they circulate it further, I have no objection.
      The more openness, the better.
      There has been much vilification by a small number of senior members of this Institute of my own and colleagues’ motives in seeking better governance of the RIAI, and in seeking RIAI policies more suited to the profession’s real needs.
      It should not be necessary to say – but seems to be – that our motives have been and remain to advance the interests of the architectural profession; but, where those interests clash with the interests of the representative body, we put our colleagues’ interests first.
      You might kindly acknowledge the truth of this and the sacrifices we have made.
      If you cannot or will not, I take comfort from the fact that my colleagues abroad have done and continue to do so.
      A new beginning is an admirable goal.
      We all support you in that regard.
      I am aware that most of the above represents “inherited problems”.
      But – that’s the way the system runs, also in the new Articles of Association.
      Your response, which should not be a private letter but which should be a statement of a new beginning to address members’ real concerns about how the RIAI is run, is awaited.
      Something less than 2% of registered members attended the AGM – not a mark of a healthy organisation.
      At least some of the 98% who did not indeed await a new beginning, one to which we can with confidence subscribe.
      Sincerely yours,
      Arkitekt MSA Eoin O Cofaigh FRIAI
      Honorary Member, Bund Deutscher Architekten, Berlin
      Honorary Member, Bund Deutscher Baumeisterer, Hamburg
      Honorary Fellow, American Institute of Architects, Washington
      Honorary Member, Union of Architects of Russia, Moscow

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