Architect removed from register for failing to address fire safety issues

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James Craigie Tannahill Thomson of Thomson Hunter Architects in Kilmarnock has been erased from the Architects Register for failing to address fire safety issues

The ARB alleged that James Craigie Tannahill Thomson had produced interim and final Professional Consultant Certificates for a property when the flats within the building did not comply with Building Regulations relating to fire safety.

It was also not constructed in conformity with the drawings approved by building control.

Thomson was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC) following a hearing of ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 17-21 August 2020 and 24 September 2020.

The PCC heard that Thomson had been engaged to inspect the construction of a block of residential flats in Troon, Ayrshire, and subsequently issued Professional Consultant Certificates to confirm that they had been built in general conformity with building regulations and approved drawings.

Purchasers of the properties relied upon those Certificates, but on occupation it became clear that there was inadequate acoustic insulation.

A subsequent inspection of the property established that the walls and ceilings did not have the required layers to provide sound insulation and fire protection.

In addition, fire doors were missing the required closers and seals that would slow the spread of fire and smoke.

PCC hearing

Thomson was legally represented but neither he nor his representative chose to attend the hearing.

He denied the allegations, stating that he was awaiting the results of an acoustic report which would have identified the issues, and that he had trusted the word of the contractor who had misled him that the building had been constructed with the proper protections and construction material in place.

The PCC did not accept this explanation, and found Thomson guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.

It was not appropriate for an architect to rely on the word of a contractor on such a matter without challenge, and as a result of his inadequate inspection regime had compromised the safety and wellbeing of those who live in the flats.

When considering sanction, the PCC took into account the very serious effect Thomson’s failings had had on the residents, who were now living in unsafe, noisy properties they are unable to sell. The cost of remedial work will be significant.

The PCC considered that James Craigie Tannahill Thomson had a number of opportunities to identify the problems but had persistently failed to do so, and had shown no evidence of remorse or insight afterwards.

In such circumstances, the PCC concluded that only erasure from the Architects Register would uphold the reputation of the profession and protect the public.

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