April 2, 2020
Our partner, Stephen Boniface, has been involved in dealing with Accreditation for RICS since its inception in the early 1990s. Stephen also helped with the setting up of the Architects AABC scheme and in the past has been on a steering group for RIBA looking at a scheme for that body. Here Stephen provides a brief explanation of accreditation and how it ties into the work we do at Whitworth.
Conservation Accreditation was originally introduced in the early 1990s to identify Architects and Building Surveyors competent in Building Conservation and capable of leading repair projects. This was to provide a professional lead for those projects that were grant aided, on churches or cathedrals.
Soon after, bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and other charitable and grant making bodies introduced the need for the lead professional to be accredited. The first accreditation scheme was brought into effect by RICS; a few years later a branch of RIBA created the AABC (Architects Accredited in Building Conservation), then later RIBA and other professional bodies brought in schemes, such that today all the leading construction professions have an accreditation scheme.
The assessment process has been refined over the years, but simply put, the applicant has to demonstrate their ability through five projects and their general experience, etc. The process includes an interview by a panel of peers.
In essence the schemes are designed to identify a “safe pair of hands” with regard to conservation projects. Accreditation is regarded as the pinnacle of achievement for building conservation professionals.
In recent years there has been increasing demand from the public for those professionals with accreditation. In many instances the work is not necessarily such that would warrant an accredited professional, but a professional with sound knowledge and experience (perhaps with an academic qualification in conservation) would suffice. To this end RIBA has introduced levels to identify those who may not be accredited, but are experienced. However, it is important to note that only the top level of RIBA accreditation equates to the other accreditation schemes.
The other concept that sometimes confuses the public is that some years ago the RICS stopped calling it ‘accreditation’, but instead refer to ‘Certified Historic Building Professional’.
Today, there are numerous building conservation post-qualification courses for professionals, that enable many to gain academic knowledge and to then develop their experience. It takes time for a professional to gain sufficient experience to sit for accreditation and the schemes usually look for at least three years of experience.
Here at Whitworth we are fortunate in having two partners and one consultant who are accredited.
We have three partners who have started on the RIBA levels:
We also have an associate partner soon to submit for RICS accreditation.
As our staff gain experience we encourage them to sit for accreditation and we are pleased that over the years we have mentored several through the process.
Clients can rest assured that our partners and staff strive to provide top level building conservation services.