Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When is an architect not an architect?

From the Waikato Times (not online but the Herald story is):

A Coromandel real estate agent has been found guilty of falsely adver­tising a house as being designed by an architect. But Robert Mosen of Richardsons Real Estate, operating in the Coro­mandel, has escaped further pun­ishment after the Real Estate Agents Authority found the offence was at the lower end of the scale.
The authority’s complaints’ as­sessment committee said the adver­tisement could have misled prospec­tive buyers and resulted in an inflated price.
“The general public when dealing with real estate agents has the right to expect that the information they present is true and accurate,” com­mittee chairman Stuart Rose said.
There was a general perception that houses designed by architects were well designed and were of a higher than average quality, Mr Rose said. “These houses command a pre­mium price in the market place be­cause of these factors.”
A complaint was brought against Mr Mosen after a man emailed him asking who the architect was. After finding out the designer was not a registered architect the man made a complaint to the auth­ority which Mr Mosen defended.
“I maintain that nowhere have I misrepresented the property and (I) acted in good faith when placing this advertisement,” Mr Mosen told the committee.
“I maintain that the building was designed by an architect, and I quote Webster’s Concise English Dictionary, ‘a person who designs buildings and supervises [their] erection.”
The committee believed the of­fence was at the lower end of the scale and issued no further punish­ment apart from its guilty finding.

 The Registered Architects Act 2005 (you can download a PDF of it here) states:
 7 Protection of titles registered architect and architect
(1) No person, other than a registered architect, may use in connection with his or her business, trade, employment, calling, or profession—
(a) the title ‘ ‘registered architect’ ’; or
(b) any words, initials, or abbreviations of that title that are intended to cause, or that may reasonably cause, any person to believe that the person using those words, initials, or abbreviations is a registered architect.
(2) No person who designs buildings, prepares plans and specifications for buildings, or supervises the construction of buildings may use the title ‘ ‘architect’ ’ unless he or she is a registered architect. [. . . ]
(4) A person who contravenes subsection (1) or subsection (2) commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
So it doesn’t matter what the dictionary says – if the building was not designed by a registered architect, then you can’t say it was designed by an architect. It comes as a surprise that not only Mr Mosen, a licensed real estate agent, but also the Real Estate AgentAuthority, a Crown entity, seem unaware of this.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

When you know some of the houses that have been 'designed' by anyone at all, you have to wonder what the general public think designed means. Let alone what value an architect can add! I know, I had a registered architect design my house. And every inch means it was considered, evaluated, and planned for my needs and not some aspirational buyer with no idea of the value of design in their life.

Thanks for the post. The irony not lost on me...