The RIBA should regulate architects’ work stages

Rab Bennetts

Source: Clare Park

Rab Bennetts

With all the talk about the RIBA’s new work stages, which are being updated to reflect current design and procurement, there’s one critical question that isn’t being addressed. Call it an elephant in the room or an old chestnut if you prefer, but the real problem is the huge disparity in the information produced by different teams across the industry.

What might constitute, say, Stage D (or the new Stage 3) to one architect is rarely the same as to another.  Some drawings looks detailed and comprehensive, whereas others seem thin by comparison, creating much greater risk of changes at the later stages and a headache for those trying to price the construction. The same is often true with engineers -  especially with building services  -  and there are interminable debates on each project about the type, scale and quality of information being produced, regardless of the new stage names. 

The conscientious architect is also at an enormous disadvantage when fee-bidding, as the estimate of resources will be based on their own conviction about the work required.  If the RIBA produced exemplar drawings for each stage to accompany its commentary on the new work stages it would stop predatory undercutting and start to serve the industry with common standards that would reduce risk and improve performance.


Rab Bennetts is co-founder of Bennetts Associates