Lodging a Concern or Complaint about an Architect
The information on this page is for people who are considering lodging a complaint against an architect or have a concern about an architect's service or competence.
Information for architects who have had a concern or complaint lodged against them can be accessed here.
Is your 'architect' an architect?
Not all people who design buildings are architects. We field many calls from people who wish to raise a concern about someone they believe to be an architect, but the person is actually an architectural designer and a Licensed Building Practitioner, or in some cases they are not registered at all.
The best way to check whether your designer is an architect, is to search our online register of architects. If your designer’s name appears on the NZRAB Register, then they are an architect and therefore under our jurisdiction. That means you can use one of the processes listed below. If they are not on the NZRAB Register, they are not a New Zealand registered architect.
If your designer is not listed on our register, check to see if they are a Licensed Building Practitioner. For access to the Licensed Building Practitioners Board Register, click on this link.
The following three processes are available to members of the public to raise a concern or to make a complaint about an architect:
Architectural Service Concerns
To help with Architectural Service Concerns and complaints, we appoint experienced registered architects to an Architectural Services Advisory Panel (ASAP) and draw from this panel when initiating a concerns process, or establishing an Investigating Panel. Architects who are appointed to the ASAP are not employees of the Board, but are formally delegated certain responsibilities to carry out on behalf of the Board. Similarly, experienced registered architects from the Standing Panel of Assessors carry out competence reviews on behalf of the Board.
1. Architectural Service Concerns
We provide an informal Architectural Service Concerns process to try and achieve a mutually agreeable way forward between an architect and concerned person (usually a client of the architect). It involves an ASAP member talking to the architect and the concerned person. The process is very much a case of listening to both parties and facilitating communication. We (the Board staff and delegates) don’t provide legal advice, insurance advice or opinions on the work of the architect.
If you would like NZRAB to try and facilitate a resolution of issues between you and your architect then tell us what is happening and the outcome you are looking for, and we will see if it is something the ASAP can assist with. You will need to complete the form below, which will then be shared with your architect, and with an ASAP member. If your concern is accepted for the Architectural Service Concern process, an ASAP member will talk with you to understand what has occurred from your perspective and will explore the objectives with you.
The Architectural Service Concern process is not an investigation, nor mediation or arbitration and it is does not result in any formal or enforceable finding. You may end the process and any point and engaging in it does not prevent you from submitting a formal complaint at a later stage.
Architectural service concerns form
An Architectural Service Concern process typically lasts between two and four weeks.
If you want to lay a complaint against an architect or former architect, you can do that. It is the Board’s role to investigate the complaint, decide whether there are grounds for discipline, and where there are grounds, decide what penalty is appropriate.
We cannot accept complaints against architect practices, only individual architects or former architects. The architect is provided with the complaint so that they can respond to it. Once the architect's response is received the complaint file is referred to an Investigating Panel (IP) comprised of two ASAP members and a Chairperson (who is not an architect).
To lodge a complaint, please complete the appropriate form below:
Complaint form pre 1 January 2018 - For events that occurred prior to 1 January 2018
Complaint form after 1 January 2018 - For Events that occurred on or after 1 January 2018.
Please include the contract/terms of appointment that you have with your architect, as part of the evidence to support your complaint. Other supporting evidence, submitted in chronological order, will assist with the investigation.
The Investigating Panel (IP) is tasked with preparing a report for the Board, which will either include a recommendation on whether or not there are grounds for discipline under section 25 of the Registered Architects Act (the Act) or that the complaint is dismissed under Rule 69 of the Architects Rules 2006 (the Rules). During this process the IP may seek additional information from you and/or the architect.
Penalty, costs and publication orders
Where grounds for discipline are found, the Board then considers penalty, cost and publication orders. Section 26 of the Act provides the penalty options available to the Board. In determining a penalty, the Board will consider the significance of the various penalty options, the nature of the breaches of section 25 of the Act, precedent and the submissions of the relevant parties.
The Board is limited to one penalty order except when considering a censure or a fine.
A censure can be ordered in addition to either a fine, conditions on practice, or training.
A fine can be ordered in addition to either censure, training or suspension.
A fine cannot be ordered if the penalty order follows a finding of grounds for discipline because of conviction matter.
Costs orders allow the Board to recover the costs of the investigation from the architect. We have no power to award compensation to a client or an architect. Claims for compensation need to proceed through separate civil proceedings in the appropriate court or tribunal.
The Board may order publication of an architect’s name in any way it sees fit; typically anonymised decisions are published on the NZRAB website. In addition to publication orders made under section 26 of the Act, we are required to record penalty decisions against an architect’s entry on the register for a period of three years.
The timeframe for completing an investigation varies greatly and is dependent on the nature of the complaint, and the amount of evidential material to be analysed by the IP. As a very rough guide, an investigation can take around six months, but occasionally 12 months or more.
We have designed these processes to be fair and transparent with equal rights of response to a complaint, but we know that going through a complaint process can be stressful for both parties. The Board executive are available to answer questions about the process and what is required of you as you navigate it.
We have a document called Guidance on Disciplinary Procedures which outlines our complaints process in more detail. This document is intended to be read in conjunction with the Act and Rules, which provides the primary legal foundation information about our complaints process. We also have a Complaints and Discipline policy.
Registered Architects Act 2005
Registered Architects Rules 2006
Complaints and Discipline policy
3. Competence concerns
Every five years the Board is required to assess whether or not an architect is continuing to meet the minimum standards for registration. This is known as a competence review or continuing registration competence review.
The Board can also initiate a competence review at any other time. If you think an architect is generally not competent or no longer safe to practise, you can submit a competence concern by completing the form below.
Competence concern form
The form will be provided to the architect for their response and then shared with Assessors to determine whether or not a competence review is required. If, following a competence review process, the Board is not satisfied that an architect is continuing to meet the minimum standards for registration, it may suspend the architect's registration.
Contacting the NZRAB
You can contact the NZRAB executive staff directly by phone or email. We will do our best to help with any questions you have about the processes available to you.
For queries, please phone 04 471 1336 or 027 271 7078
All complaint and concern correspondence should be emailed to email@example.com