Unlicensed individuals practicing a regulated profession are quacks. Often when I talk about quack architects, it is possible to assume that these are complete impostors in the profession but sometimes they are also graduates of Architecture who have refused to get licensed. Quacks pose a serious danger to any profession including architecture. Let’s get right on the 5 dangers quacks pose.
1. Quacks can’t be sanctioned nor can their license be withdrawn.
Since quacks in the first place are unlicensed individuals who do not operate under the appropriate regulatory body, it is very difficult to track and discipline them when they err. Knowing that there is no legal body to hold them accountable, quacks get away with unprofessional and unethical practices which hurts architecture.
Also, withdrawing their license to practice professionally is impossible as they have none in the first place. Whereas when licensed architects err, they face disciplinary actions. They could be suspended from practice for a period of time or have their license revoked completely.
Thankfully, several categories of registrable individuals has been created by the regulatory body of architects in Nigeria to enable more people come into its fold and become architects. If interested, you can contact the Architect’s Registration Council of Nigeria for more details.
2. Quacks weaken the profession where they are prevalent.
The prevalence of quacks in a profession undermines the professionalism of that profession. This is so because quackery is synonymous with poor, shoddy and unprofessional practices. When this becomes the norm, the perception of professionals within that locality gets tainted.
You may have heard statements like:
All architects do is draw, they are more concerned about aesthetics and know nothing about cost and construction.
These are the perceptions quackery can cause. In situations where the professional contributions of licensed architects are in reduced demand because of quackery, there will be threat to the practice of Architecture. If this situation persist, Architectural practices are likely to get weakened, poorly patronised and clients will be exposed to substandard services.
3. Quack actions can result in unpalatable consequences.
When quacks lead projects that are beyond their training, experience and comprehension, there is always a high chance of project failure. In architecture, failure could be unpalatable and could result in loss of lives and properties.
Building collapse has become common in Nigeria today and most authorities in the construction industries are attributing it majorly to the prevalence of quackery and the use of substandard materials.
4. Quacks impoverish architects.
Due to the nature of our society and its economic condition, there is often a desire to seek cheap services.
Quacks offer ridiculous fees for Architectural services that makes them a suitable fit for this desire. It’s only a handful of clients that can afford the pay licensed architects well.
Therefore, most low level projects such as single family residential buildings are undertaken by quacks… and when this happens too frequently, its deprives architects of jobs and thus income.
5. Quacks lack professionalism.
Majority of quacks lack the skill and training to conduct themselves the way architects would. Architecture being a regulated profession has rules guiding it, spelt out by the regulatory body. These rules guarantee quality and consistent service delivery, good ethical practice and disciplinary measures were necessary.
For instance, besides designing for you it’s also the responsibility of architects to follow up on construction and ensure it is built as designed)(of course at a fee). Licensed architects understand that it’s their duty to protect the interest of their clients at times and not collude with other professionals or contractor to rip off clients. Lastly, licensed architects are under pressured to advice you wrongly because of their desire to get your money immediately.
How to spot a quack.
It may be difficult to detect a quack outrightly but the easiest way is to request for the their registration number or certificate with the Architect’s Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON). When given, you can confirm the information at the nearest ARCON office. Those who are unlicensed will be reluctant to obliged you. This request may be awkward but it’s your right to know.
Also, every licensed architects in Nigeria has a seal given to him/her by the regulatory body ARCON. You should request when you receive drawings that they must be sealed and signed by the architect. From the seal you will visibly see the registration number. If in doubt of the registration of the architect, take that number to any ARCON office for verification.
Lastly, I would have said you should look out for the way they conduct themselves, their command of English, use of technical words in presentation, quality of architectural drawings, portfolio of past projects, proof of collaboration with other architects but these aren’t foolproof ways. The only guaranteed way is to verify their registration with ARCON.
Here is the list of registered architects in Nigeria to verify the registration status of architects.
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