The role of the architect sits at the heart of the building industry. In many projects, the architect is responsible not only for the design of a building, but also for the coordination and management of both that design and the team of consultants engaged by the client. Understanding an architect's role can often be key to determining why a defect exists in a completed building.

An architect’s duties can vary from project to project, but typically include:

Depending on the procurement route chosen for the project, the architect might also either administer the building contract or inspect the quality of the contractor’s work on site.

With such a broad remit, there is considerable scope for error, and this is compounded by the nature of modern construction.

Over the past 40 years, the UK construction industry has increased in complexity.  Where once buildings might have been designed entirely by an architect, today they are often the work of large teams of specialist designers, embracing new technologies, with each designer developing discrete elements of the building. Recent high-profile building failures have highlighted the challenge of integrating so many elements into a coherent design.

In addition, new methods of producing design information, such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) have increased the amount of documentation needed to procure a building.  Navigating this tide of information can be daunting.

On complex projects, much of the architect’s time can be spent in design management and coordination, reviewing the designs provided by the other consultants to ensure that each aspect is both properly integrated with the design, and in compliance with the statutory regulations.

This duty to coordinate is more accurately known as the ‘Lead Consultant’ role, and it forms a key part of the standard form of appointment for an architect, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Why appoint a forensic architect?

Hawkins has a team of architects with a wide knowledge of construction techniques, sectors, and building contracts, as well as the experience to navigate the complex information that surrounds construction projects.

Our analysis can help our clients to determine the cause, effect, and liability for defects in the design and construction of the built environment.

Before and during construction, we can provide a technical audit of the design and construction documentation to:

  • Assess the adequacy of the design, and its compliance with planning, building regulations, fire safety and accessibility standards
  • Review the content and development of design drawings, construction information and specifications.
  • Assist with inspection duties, assessing the quality of workmanship and the implementation of the works on site.

Once the building is complete, the team can use a combination of site inspection and document review to:

  • Inspect the finished building and assess compliance with the relevant standards and terms of the contract.
  • Advise on remedial works to mitigate any deficiencies in the design.
  • Investigate building defects to determine the root cause.
  • Assist with establishing where design liability lies.
  • Provide an independent opinion for use in formal dispute resolution proceedings such as litigation or arbitration.

Examples of Typical cases

If you would like to know if we can help, please fill out our enquiry form or give us a call for a free consultation. The list below gives a few examples of cases we have investigated:

Related areas of expertise

Civil & Structural Engineering

Whether it is a subsiding foundation, a collapsing structure or a flooding drainage system, it can be hard to understand at first glance what part of a large system has gone wrong.

Building Defects & Regulations

A building defect can be described as any deficiency or shortcoming in the performance or function of a building that prevents it from satisfying statutory or user requirements. Building defects fall broadly into three categories:

Health & Safety

Construction and demolition work is inherently dangerous and despite many improvements to the management of health and safety in the industry, accidents still happen. The factors that influence the occurrence and outcome of a construction or demolition site accident can be associated with the design and planning of the works or the way the works are executed.

Construction Injuries

Construction continues to be the most dangerous industry in the UK, with one worker being killed and 300 seriously injured on UK construction sites every week in 2020/21. This is despite concerted efforts to tighten regulations and increase punitive action.

Related Insights

In an effort to mitigate the effects of climate change, the government published Approved Document Part O, which provides guidance for complying with the new Part O of the Building Regulations.