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Out of the question

28 June 2010

The PCC and its architect

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.

Your answers

My PCC are considering changing our church architect after an un­satis­­factory Quinquennial Inspec­tion report last time round. We have paid for the report, but don’t believe that we have any formal contractual rela­tionship with the practice in­volved. Would we be liable, for ex­ample, for any costs incurrent of any drawings and plans prepared some years previously in connection with a variety of re­order­ing schemes that in fact came to nothing, but for which we have never been charged?

An architect’s appointment is on a project-by-project basis, unless, very unusually, there is a contract that specifically states otherwise. It is part of an architect’s duty under RIBA codes to set out the terms of each appointment beforehand (as in this case, often honoured in the breach), and on completion of the work in­volved each appointment automatic­ally terminates.

Strictly speaking, there is no need, except as a matter of polite­ness, to inform the former architect that he/she/they (hereafter “he”) will not be appointed for the next Quin­quennial: he has already been paid for what he did.

A commission would, of course, also terminate if the architect were informed that the PCC did not intend to proceed further with a scheme for which work had been done. If there is no formal agree­ment as to fees for aborted schemes, and a bill is submitted, this should be examined carefully. The initial re­sponse to any such claim should be to state that no agreement exists to pay fees for that specific project.

This may not be the end of the matter, as the claim may prove to be partially valid if there is corres­pondence with the architect about the aborted scheme implying that it had been requested or was being considered. But he may only claim quantum meruit, probably submit­ting timesheets and an hourly rate, showing that the timesheets are spe­ci­fically project-related and giv­ing the salaries and rate for over­heads in­volved. A claim on a percent­age basis for the “work stages” involved should not normally be accepted.

One problem is likely to be that it may need a technical person to es­tab­lish the genuineness of a quantum meruit claim, and finding another architect, surveyor, or engineer to comment on what the work of an­other professional really deserves is often difficult.

It goes without saying that the PCC should have a written agree­ment that covers the scope of work and the fee involved with each sep­arate architectural appointment.

Christopher Haffner, B.Arch.,
R.I.B.A., F.C.I.Arb. (Reader)
East Molesey, Surrey

Your questions

The threefold Kyrie, in English or Greek, used invariably to be part of the mass. Now it is rare. Yet it is of greater antiquity than the Gloria. At said services, a twofold version is used. Why these changes? G. M.

Address: Out of the Question, Church Times, 13-17 Long Lane, London EC1A 9PN.


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