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.
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
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.