ARCHITECTS are those whose profession it is to design and superintend the construction of buildings generally. The architect must be acquainted with the historical and artistic principles of building ; with the cost of buildings and the means of keeping such cost within limits ; with the strength, durability, and suitability of materials and the methods of their application ; and also with a considerable part of the la* of and incidental to building operations. The profession is open to all without examination, the result being that many a so-called architect is to the public a snare and a delusion. Intending clients should therefore be careful that the architect whom they may select is (a) generally qualified ; as would be, for example, one who is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects ; and (b) specially qualified in the particular class of building intended to be con structed. If the first qualification is there, the architect approached would refuse the work if not within his powers, and advise as to a proper man. It is obvious that specialism persists very extensively and necessarily in this profession ; for the architect who builds and restores Early Norman ecclesiastical examples, would scarcely be an appropriate person in whose hands to entrust the designing and construction of, for example, a modern palace of varieties.
Appointment.—There are at least three general ways in which an architect may be appointed. The building owner, whom we will call his principal, may go to him, sketch out generally the idea he has, and give the architect practically carte blanche authority to prepare plans as near as possible to that idea and proceed with the work. Or, the principal may approach the architect and require him to submit plans for approval before any appointment is made. Or finally, the principal may advertise inviting competitive plans, and offering the superintendence of the work to the author of the accepted plan, and prizes to certain of those who may send in plans which are not accepted. In the first of the above cases the appoint ment is definite and complete. In the second, the architect may not be appointed, even though his plans have been accepted, if such plans were sent in for approval only under " hope " of being employed as the architect. The principal, on keeping the plans, would only be liable for reasonable remuneration for the trouble and expense incurred by their author. In the last case, and generally in cases of advertisement, the successful competitor would be entitled to engagement in the proposed work, provided, of course, that when he sent in his plans he accompanied them with a letter definitely accepting, and in strict compliance with the terms and conditions of the offer as set out in the advertisement. Assuming now that the architect is appointed, what is his legal position ? Rights and liabilities.—As architect he is the general agent of the principal ; as such he conies within the general law of that relationship, of which some account is given under the heading AGENCY. In particular, he is under an obligation to bring to bear upoti the work in hand all proper and reasonable knowledge and care. And still more particularly
he must also apply to that work a special knowledge and skill relative thereto; such as an architect, making special profession of that class of work, ought naturally to possess. Thus we see the necessity for engaging an architect in work to which he is accustomed. Apart from any special circumstances of his appointment, the architect's first duty is to obtain an ilitimate knowledge of the proposed site ; its inherent capabilities or deficiencies, as the case may be, for the class of building intended to be erected ; the statutory obligations or district bye-laws, if any, affecting the site ; its pdsition with regard to the obtaining of materials ; and the rights over it, if any, possessed by third parties, such, for example, as rights of way, rights of light, &c. The results of such investigation should be reported to the principal ; and where necessary legal and scientific advice taken, and agreements effected. Default in this may entail stoppage of building, damages, and costs ; and of these the architect may have to bear a share; not only any claimed by his principal, but also those claimed by a builder prejudiced thereby. The next duty of the architect is the pre paration of the plans. In this he may require the assistance of a quantity surveyor; but before engaging one, special authority should be obtained from the principal. Otherwise, the architect may have to pay for the surveyor himself and be unable to claim this out - of - pocket from his principal. These things having been done, and all things arranged con formably therein to the principal's instructions, especially as to the cost of the building, tenders should be obtained from builders, and when accepted a building contract entered into. Here both principal and architect will seek the aid of the lawyer, and some part of what they may learn from him respecting this most important element in building, we will inform the reader under the heading BUILDING CONTRACT. Without express warranty, none will be implied in the plans, specifications, and quantities supplied by the architect to the builder. And if there be no lack therein of ordinary professional skill and care, time architect is not liable to his principal for any damage resulting from mistakes therein. If, however, they are inaccurate and incomplete as a result of collusion between the architect and his principal, the former would be liable equally with the latter to the builder in respect of any damage resulting therefrom. As to the architect's powers to vary and modify the general scheme of the building, these depend upon the building contract ; for apart from that, the principal's express authority would be requisite, and the builder also must be consulted. But in the case of petty details, incidental to the work, the architect has a com plete authority. There being the legitimate rights of the builder to be considered, as well as those of his principal, the architect must exercise his powers with the utmost discrimination and justice.