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How architects are regulated

NSW architects are regulated by the NSW Architects Registration Board (NSW ARB), a self-funded regulatory body within the Building Commission NSW.

The primary role of the NSW ARB is to protect consumers of architectural services.

The key legislation regulating architects in NSW:

Architects are bound by the Code. They must maintain professional indemnity insurance appropriate to the services they provide and must undertake a minimum of 20 hours of continuing professional development annually.

The use of the title ‘architect’ is protected by law. Only individuals who are on the NSW Register of Architects may use this title.

The regulation of architects is designed to protect the interests of their clients and the community more broadly. This is important because architecture has a long-term impact on the built environment and the quality of our cities. Unsatisfactory architectural services, poor architectural design and building defects are often difficult to reverse and may impose high costs on the community.

Regulation is valuable in safeguarding consumer protection because:

  • Professional services are generally not observable before they are purchased, and the consumer cannot inspect a service before purchase in the same direct way as can be done with most goods.
  • Professional services are by their nature complex and often require considerable skill to deliver and tailor to a consumer’s particular needs. Therefore, it can be difficult for the consumer to assess the quality of the service before it is purchased.
  • The quality of professional services can be difficult to assess even after the services have been paid for.
  • Many clients of architects are very infrequent consumers of professional services and, as first-time single-time users, may have no expertise in ‘being a client’ – making it difficult for them to assess the quality of architectural services upfront.
  • The consequences of purchasing poor professional services can be significant. For example, the service may represent a large expenditure for the consumer and a defective service can risk serious and irreversible harm.
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