Thursday 9 September 2010

Architect by the Grandfather Clause

Prior to the summer recess of the Dail (the Parliament), John O'Donoghue TD proposed  a private member's bill, which if successful with see the introduction of a "grandfather" clause to enable those who claim/have provided services of an architect for at least 10 years and are aged 35 or more to entitled to become a "registered" architect.(it might not be that simple but that's the basics of it) Naturally registered architects are not happy, nor is the body (RIAI) who represents them and who would blame them.

Throughout the summer, both in the print media and on line the issue has been tossed about, particularly between the RIAI and the Architect's Alliance.

So why is registration so important to a non qualified architect now? 

Title possibly? However another reason (the main reason) I believe is no doubt to do with Financial Institutions and the Law Society and one's ability to certify works. Being excluded from tendering for consultancy work for Government works too, can be an issue. Eg Schools summer works scheme.

Many of those providing architectural services outside of qualified architects are qualified architectural technicians/technologists (ATs).Many of the ATs do encounter difficulties with some banks and some solicitors, when it comes to certifying works, yet a qualified AT should, one would expect, be better qualified than an engineer to certify compliance with planning permission and building regulations and as competent as an architect.At the end of the day a qualified AT has studied Architectural Technology. Most bodies (banks, engineers etc) fail to distinguish the disciplines within engineering which is quiet broad. The term engineer is broad and covers quiet a few disciplines electrical/mechanical/civil/structural/manufacturing to list a few, of which not very many would qualify one with a level of knowledge of construction or planning to be in a position to offer an opinion of compliance with building regulations.Yet a qualified AT who studied building regulations and the technical side of construction, can be considered not suitably qualified by banks and solicitors.

Of course the fact  that The Building Control Bill 2007, which protected of the term architect, failed or neglected to register/protect the title of Architectural Technician/Technologist, hasn't helped the AT's case in terms of beginning qualified to certify works.

So getting back to John O'Donoghue Bill. Will it be be successful?

I'm not sure, by all accounts the Architect's Alliance have their homework done and have lobbied all the TD's, always a good start. You've got to hand that to them there. Is it the right thing to happen, not in my opinion, in theory there could be someone who has "acted" as an architect for the last 10 years or longer, yet only prepared drawings for planning permission and never taken into account compliance with building regulations... Mind you these type of "architects" aren't architectural technologists/technician's either.There are some  whom would genuniely qualify, however the proposed bill takes the good with the bad.It would be far better if Architectural Technology was considered a competent profession,and its title registered and accepted by the Law Society and all banks and other relevant bodies the same as Architects, Engineers and Surveyors.

Should the Bill be successful and be past into Law, one would have to say I would be foolish not to jump on the band wagon and get registered as an Architect. To be honest I'm not interested in becoming an architect through the backdoor or any other door, I'm an Architectural Technologist , however if you don't play the system you won't win, (or survive) as Tipperary Senior Hurlers proved last Sunday, in winning the All Ireland Hurling Championship 2010.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Cottage renovation Part 1

Work is well under way to a cottage renovation, with blockwork having commenced last week following two weeks of demolition work. In the first in series of blog posts on the project, I will outline the choice of wall insulation.

With existing external walls of stone/rubble construction, it was decided to insulate the entire building externally, using weber's external wall insulation system. As a designer the choice of external insulation, was greatly influenced by the fact that the entire external face of the wall is insulated to the same thickness, with no thermal bridges, where cavities are closed or new and old work is bonded together. The proposal is to use the weber.therm XM  external wall insulation system which is Agrément Certified with a mineral fibre insulation to the existing stone/rubble walls and EPS to new conc blockwork. A series of articles in Construct Ireland Magazine entitled "Breaking the mould" which dealt with upgrading of single leaf external wall construction, further helped with the choice of insulation method.

All new work is constructed of solid blockwork, with the customary cavity eliminated. The dwelling does however comprise of a partly build extension of insulated cavity construction, which will also be insulated externally. In this element of the construction the entire cavity is been fully closed so there will be little or no air movement in the cavity.

The insulation will be carried down as far a practical below ground externally and right up to wall plate level at eaves. All existing windows and doors are to begining replaced and are brought forward in line with the external face of the external structure, further reducing cold bridges. 

It is expected that the installion with be complete within the next 4-5 weeks, however beforehand the requirements from all service pipe supports etc has to be assessed and provisions made for.