Architect's FAQs

Is compliance with the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct compulsory?

All architects in NSW are required to comply with the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct. The Code is included in the Regulations and failure to comply with the Code will constitute unsatisfactory professional conduct and may also constitute professional misconduct for the purposes of the Act, and may be grounds for disciplinary action under Part 4 Complaints and disciplinary proceedings of the Act.

See INFORMATION SHEET - COMPLAINT AGAINST AN ARCHITECT Dec 2014

What kind of contract or written agreement do I have to have with my client?

Architects should have in place a written agreement with their clients concerning the provision of any new architectural service. The Board does not specify the type of written agreement that must be used, however, Part 3, Section 7 of the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct outlines the inclusions that should be in any agreement between architects and their clients.

Where will I display my registration number?

When dealing with the public in the course of their architectural practice, architects and architect corporations and firms must include their registration number on any stationery, sign boards, construction documents, public notices or advertisements used or placed by the architect, or in the case of an architect corporation or firm must include the name and number of the nominated architect. This is to ensure that consumers of architectural services know when they are dealing with an architect.

How do I change my registration status from practising architect to non-practising architect?

Architects who have been on the NSW Register of Architects at any time may choose to change their status to non-practising. This category will include architects who may have retired from practice or those who are not practising architecture nor will be for the foreseeable future. Individuals who have removed their name from the Register may apply to be restored in this category. 

See FORM 07A - APPLICATION FOR RE-REGISTRATION AS A NON-PRACTISING ARCHITECT

Are you really a sole trader?

Sole traders are currently not required under the Act to list a nominated architect with the Board. Some architects refer to themselves as sole practitioners – and some believe that this term has the same legal meaning as sole trader. However, architects who practice through a company registered with ASIC through a partnership or association of persons are not sole traders. For the purposes of the Architects Act they are corporations and firms and as such must list their nominated architect with the Board if they wish to provide architectural services.

If I work in an architectural firm, but am not on the NSW Register of Architects architect, what title can I use?

Only a person who is on the NSW Register of Architects may use the title architect. An employee of an architect may use the title or description of architectural assistant, architectural technician or architectural drafter. No restriction applies to a person using the word architectural to describe the business of supplying goods in connection with architecture. Landscape architect, naval architect or computer systems architect are also exempted terms. Graduates of an architecture programme may describe themselves as holding that qualification but cannot use any term such as ‘graduate architect that may infer that they are an architect registered in NSW. Appropriate terms include “architectural graduate”or “graduate of architecture”.

Do architects who give advice to community groups, churches, schools etc on a pro bono basis need insurance cover?

Regardless of whether a professional person provides advice at no charge, or for an exchange of services or other benefit – they still have the same duty of care to their client and are exposed to the same liabilities and can be sued for negligence. Architects in this situation should seek advice from an insurance broker.

Do I have to show clients a copy of my professional indemnity insurance policy?

The NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct requires an architect to provide each client of the architect with information relating to the insurance maintained by the architect for the architectural services to be provided to the client. You may choose to provide a copy of your professional indemnity insurance policy to your clients. The Board advises that you must at least provide the following information to your clients: "I confirm that I/my company has a current policy of professional indemnity insurance expiring on [date] which I intend to renew and that I/company has the appropriate level of cover available for the architectural services provided. Should you require any further information please do not nesitate to contact me." See the Board's Circular of Information - Architects and PI.

Do I have to show the Board a copy of my professional indemnity insurance policy?

Architects have to declare at annual renewal that they have appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover unless they have been granted an exemption from this provision. Currently, the Board does not require architects to provide a copy of their policy. However, where a complaint against the architect’s professional conduct has been made, evidence of cover may be required by the Board. 

Do I need professional indemnity insurance cover for private jobs outside my employment?

Yes, your employer’s insurance does not cover you for work carried out on your own behalf. If you provide architectural services on your own behalf you need to seek appropriate cover.

Is there a minimum professional indemnity insurance level stipulated by the Board?

The Board does not stipulate a minimum indemnity level of professional indemnity insurance. Architects should maintain sufficient cover to enable them to meet claims arising from their professional practice.

What happens if an architect does not have professional indemnity insurance?

If an architect does not have professional indemnity insurance cover appropriate to the level of services provided, nor is eligible for an exemption they are in breach of the NSW Architects Code of Professional Conduct. Breaches of the Code must be dealt with under the disciplinary provisions of the Architects Act. 

How do architects decide what is appropriate CPD?

Each year architects are encouraged to develop a CPD plan which addresses the maintenance, development and enhancement of their own professional knowledge and skills. Activities should relate to practice as an architect and be in addition to activities already undertaken in the normal course of the architect’s practice or employment. Activities in each year should relate to a minimum of two units in the National Standard of Competency for Architects : Design, Documentation, Project Delivery and Practice Management. The Standards can be downloaded from the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) website www.aaca.org.au.

When deciding which courses or activities are appropriate to their needs architects should assess the published information about the activity, the reputation of the provider, the quality of the product and the relevance of the subject matter to determine if a particular activity is appropriate to their individual needs.

See INFORMATION SHEET - CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

How will the Board assess whether an architect has “taken all reasonable steps” to undertake appropriate CPD?

At annual renewal of registration architects must declare that they have undertaken a minimum of 20 hours of CPD, of which 10 hours must be formal. Exemptions may be granted based on exceptional circumstances faced by an individual architect, or where an architect has been on parental leave or overseas for the registration year. Pro rate obligations apply where the circumstances apply for only part of the registration year. See Information Sheet – Architects and CPD.

What records of continuing professional development should be kept?

Records of CPD activities should be kept for at least five years and should include date, activity, location, category of activity - formal or informal - and hours claimed. The Board provides a template for architects to use for this purpose.

Download FORM 05 - CPD RECORD FORM