Just a general debate as to which country is better to practise architecture!

Based on practices; appointment methods, setting fees, responsibilities, powers, reassurances etc...(not quality of architecture)

what could elements from each country to be brought to the other?


Dec 4, 19 11:48 am

weigh in....



Dec 4, 19 12:21 pm

Hi RickB-Astoria, Still getting used to the system but will start weighing in now if you want to have input?


I have nothing to offer from experience. However, I'd love to hear about regulatory differences between the two. Grenfell is an obvious example of discrepancy but I'm sure there are more. How do these regulators regulate? Testing standards? 

Dec 4, 19 1:02 pm
Non Sequitur

Canada for the win. 

Easier licensing exams

Low tuition costs


No unpaid internships

Healthcare and decent basic labour laws  

Metric system. 

Gun control 

Dec 4, 19 1:21 pm
Chad Miller

I fail to see how the metric system makes things better. ;)

atelier nobody

If God had meant us to use metric, She wouldn't have given us 12 toes on each foot...


Wait so let's see, 1/3 of this is 12.57 feet soooooo....crud. that's how its better.


when you spell PRACTICE two different ways in your opening statement, it's clear which is best.

Dec 4, 19 2:09 pm

I dunno, kind of a grey area.


A little off topic...Actually I think what I wrote stands correct with the subject line using practise as a verb and 'based on 'practices' describing an architectural practice as a noun.


C_UK is correct in the way he used it in "British English". In "American English" or simply... the U.S., practice is the only spelling form. There is no 'practise' in American English.


I actually can't weigh in on how thing are done in the US...I'm actually trying to figure out some of the differences in an attempt to suggest different methods of operating that could be brought to the UK

One of the interesting issues in the UK is the importance of both the RIBA and ARB, with difficult arising from trying to justify the need for both. The ARB serve to protect the public from architects and regulate the profession whilst the RIBA maintains education standards. 

Dec 4, 19 3:06 pm

Fees are another interesting subject...In the UK we tend mainly charge as a percentage of construction cost or fixed lump sum, with only a quarter of charges based upon an hourly rate. 

I believe in the US a cost/sq ft system is used? 

Dec 4, 19 3:10 pm

Yes, in the U.S., for preliminary construction cost estimations during early design phases, we do use a cost per sq.ft. approach. As construction documents are prepared, a more revised and detailed approach is used.

Non Sequitur

Ricky, the OP is asking about professional fees, not construction cost estimating.


Yes, I suppose i'm interested in finding out if there are any more sophisticated methods used for calculating fees for architectural services. I've read a lot of material on the potential of performance based costing, however this is not something use din the UK. Additionally it seems that integrated project delivery is much more advanced in the US?


Ok, yes, there is. As for methods of billing architectural or building design fees, there is multiple methods used. In the U.S., the most common is percentage of construction cost, fixed lump sum, billed hourly rate, and some others. Residential designers may sometimes charge by a dollar amount per square foot. Licensed architects tend not to charge that way. The $/Sq.ft. method had been associated with a "race to the bottom". What is meant by that is the "cheapening of services". All methods can be horribly misused but that ($/Sq.ft. pricing method) is one that has been commonly done to a point of detriment.


I've heard (and vaguely remember from professional practice class) that in the UK the plan reviewers/ permitting authority is responsible for the building complying with all applicable codes and regulations, is this true?

In the US, though our drawings are reviewed for permitting, the stamping architect is fully liable for those elements of the design and the permitting authorities take no responsibility for it.

Dec 4, 19 7:44 pm

Hi archanonymous,


Yes in the UK architects do not have 'protection of function'. Whilst the title 'architect' is protected by law, anyone can submit a planning application or produce drawings for construction. By law all building regulations must be complied with and this is checked by the building control officer from the local authority or an approved inspector.


It should be noted that in the U.S., most of the states have exemptions where non-licensed persons (nonlicensed design professionals and non-professionals) may submit drawings for construction and they have to meet the applicable building codes/regulations. At least in Oregon and possibly other states, just because a person is not required to be licensed to design a house or other exempted buildings does NOT exempt them from liability and lawsuits associated with negligence, tort, or otherwise. Exemption from licensure is not exemption from lawsuits.

Happy Anarchy

from what I remember reading and watching (that one design show) the British design all the way into means and method and somewhat remove the builder from the process where in the US the builder builds and talks the architect out of the process.

for instance, was watching a documentary on some high rise job in London and basically everything was pre-fab, a few crane operators and done.  the architect was very involved in putting this all together with 3D and 4D (staging) renderings.

in the US, the Construction Manager would just find the cheapest fastest way possible, including cheap labor, and define the process and the architect is stuck working with substitutes, etc...because all the client hears is - Savings!

Dec 4, 19 11:10 pm

I am not sure if this is entirely true, from some searches and even this: ( ), it seems to me that in the UK, there is no "construction contractor" licensing. So, basically, anyone can open up shop and build. Well.... that's the legal theory but not always reality. If it is true, it would be the responsible thing for the design professional who designs the building to direct and instruct the means and methods. In which case, the Architect / Designer needs to be competent with the means and methods of building the design or have people on staff that are. Hence "Architect-Builder" type of firm. 

In the U.S., we broke up the profession into construction and architecture with separate licensing scheme. Hence, an inadvertent schism began. Whether intentional or not, who knows. In the days before states adopted construction contractor licensing either before architectural licensing or even during the time when architects were licensed, they administered and SUPERVISED construction. In affect, the Architect was really the GC and commissioned the tradesmen/craftsmen. The concept of GC didn't exist. The term builder(s) was used in those days and they would be the construction business which may have one or more trades associated with them but they would be supervised by the Architect. 

Construction supervision was much more involved then what it is understood in the last 50 years. Eventually supervision became not much more than observation and hence a change in the terms to construction observation. 100 years ago, architects would be directing and supervising the construction including the means and method even when a construction company is hired or contracted to perform the work.... the architect was effectively the boss and controlled outcomes. Now, architects would have to also have a contractor license as well in order to control the construction outcome that they once had before the licensing laws.


Before licensing laws for architects and pretty much any construction contractor licensing laws, it was quite common for architects to also build or otherwise direct the construction and coordinating the trades and bringing them together. It was not unusual for architects to have construction experience in addition to design and architectural drafting & lettering skills.


My favorite architecture story - not really but hey, I'm American, and hyperbole got us this far - was when I worked at this one NYC office and we kept seeing this note on drawings: "Make It Good". We kept asking, what is this, what does it mean?! Well, it turns out, that one of our staff was from GB, and over there, "Make It Good", means "Patch To Match Existing Adjacent Finish" and that it's a well understood direction. That. Is. Awesome!

Dec 5, 19 11:36 am

hmmm my notes often say "Don't make it shitty."


Beta, I had the exact same comment on drawings when I worked in the UK. It took forever to figure out what that meant. Ends up it is totally standard and both Arch's + GC's completely understand it.


Bench! Thank you for confirming, I think it's a great note, when everyone understands what "Good" means.


Just make it good, quit faffin' about


I need a "Make it Good" stamp for ridiculous RFI s

Non Sequitur

"make good" is a common note in our drawing set.


Have you also been serving tea and crumpets recently?

Non Sequitur

fuck no.

Happy Anarchy


Dec 5, 19 8:15 pm

Myself - 7 okay 8 now including this post.

N.S. = 4

Bench = 3

H.A. = 2

b3tadine = 2

archanon... = 2

tduds = 1

threeohdoor = 1

JLC = 1

atelier nobody = 1

Chad Miller = 1

SneakyPete = 1

archi_dude = 1


20 posts not including mine or C_UK. 

C_UK = 8

36 posts total. I represent only ~22.22222% 

Lets see if any new posts has popped up while preparing this or afterwards.

Dec 5, 19 9:15 pm

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