Responsibility of stage payment certificates and why architects shouldn’t rush to the bottom

I’d just received a blank Stage Payment Certificate from Ulster Bank (ah, not them again!) and realised there was a subtle difference in the wording on the form:

“I confirm there have been no changes to the specification and costings that were originally submitted and the balance of the loan to be drawn is sufficient to complete the property in full – YES/NO”

Very interesting, what this means is that the architect is taking full responsibility for how the money is to be spent on the build and NOT the client. A very subtle change but one with immense responsibility to the architect. The architect will now have to have full control over the purse strings on every aspect of the build and at all stages. The days have now gone where the client can go a bit wild on the bathroom fittings or the kitchen and live in the house for a bit while it’s getting finished. The bank will want to know that the house is COMPLETELY finished with the money that’s available; this includes every item of second fix, kitchens, landscaping etc… Why? The bank doesn’t want yet another unfinished property that it can’t sell on its books.

It seems a good idea but I’m not looking forward to telling people here in the West how they should spend their money; it’s hard enough setting out the performance criteria simply to comply with current Building Regulations.

Maybe it is a good idea but the point to remember is that it wasn’t the individual self-builders that got the country in the mess that it’s in; the buck stops with the developers and yes, the banks who gave out the money for too many houses in too short a time, in unsuitable locations.

Now let’s go forward in the certificate a bit:

“I confirm that I hold Professional Indemnity Insurance in the sum of _____ and enclose copy of same”

So, the architect is certifying that a. the loan is enough at all stages to meet the construction costs and b. that if it’s not then then bank has on file the details of who to go to (ie your insurance company) to get the difference – a huge level of new responsibility to the architect. This means more court cases and insurance claims to the architect and all the hassle and worry that goes with same.

As I’ve said before, “It’s a jungle out there” and if you’re an architect “be careful” and don’t be to quick to rush to the bottom with your price; your work carries an immense about of responsibility that very few (clients and banks included) appreciate.

Comments welcome…

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