Some frequently asked questions relating to registered architects and architectural services.

Aldinga Payinthi College, Swanbury Penglase. Photography by Sam Noonan.

Is it important to use a ‘registered’ architect for my project?

The use of the title ‘architect’ is protected by law. Only people registered in South Australia with the Architectural Practice Board of SA may use the title. You can check a person’s registration status on the website. If you choose an architect, you know that person has attained the necessary qualifications, completed specific practical experience, and has passed the Board’s examination before registration. You also know that the person is subject to the Architects’ Code of Conduct, must comply with the provisions of the Architectural Practice Act, is encouraged to undertake regular professional education, and must maintain professional indemnity insurance.

What level of fees can I expect to pay for an architects’ services?

Architects’ fees are subject to open market competition. There is no regulation for architects fees. Fees may be based on a percentage of the cost of the works, a lump sum or an hourly rate. You should discuss this with your architect; and look for this information in the Terms of Engagement or Client/Architect Agreement before your architect undertakes any work for you.

What services will the architect provide? Can I request services up to a particular stage of my project?

Be sure to discuss your needs with your architect at the beginning of your project, and clarify together, what you need. Services could include:

  • Advice on feasibility, selection of a site, planning and scheduling
  • Design
  • Documentation
  • Project management
  • Administering the building contract
  • Inspection and quality control
  • Managing consultants (e.g. surveyors, engineers)
  • Budget monitoring
  • Managing competitive quotations/tenders.

Whatever services you require should be agreed to before work commences and should be included in a written agreement between you and your architect. You and your architect should communicate regularly so that you understand the steps in the project and important decisions taken.

Does the architect retain copyright on his/her drawings, plans, documentation?

Yes. Your architect retains copyright on this work. The drawings and documentation may be used only for the purpose and on the site for which they are produced.

If I engage an architect, what is my role?

Your role is to:

  • Be as clear as possible about what you want to achieve, what you need and what you can afford.
  • Ask about the client/architect agreement before you sign the contract to clarify what will be done for what cost.
  • Avoid changes once you reach the detailed drawing stage, otherwise the costs may increase.
  • Be clear about the responsibilities of the architect, builder or sub-contractors.
  • If your architect is administering the building contract, avoid three-way confusion by dealing with all queries through your architect who will deal with the builder. Expect to pay for this service.
  • Keep your own notes of meetings and decisions made, either in the office or on site.
  • Talk about timetables; be aware that many factors can affect these (e.g. delays in council approval, supply of materials, delays in construction which are beyond the architect’s control).
  • Ask questions, be involved, but allow your architect to do their job.
  • If you have a problem, talk to your architect and try and resolve the problem.
The person I have engaged is not on your Register?

If you have engaged the services of an ‘architect’ or architectural business, where either the person or the business uses the term ‘architect’ (e.g. in advertising, invoices, documentation etc) but their name does not appear on the South Australian register, you should contact the Board. The office can verify whether the person or business is on the register or not; and if not, the Board can investigate the person or business as they may be in breach of the Architectural Practice Act.

What can I do if things go ‘pear shaped’?

If you can’t resolve the problem with your architect, you can:

  • Contact the Board and discuss whether you have a complaint – if so, you will be advised to put your complaint in writing with as much detail as possible
  • Obtain your own legal advice – consider a civil claim
  • Terminate your agreement with the architect – but make sure you have met the terms of the Client/Architect Agreement before doing so.