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RIAI Conservation Accreditation System

To assist Consumers in the selection of a Practice to provide them with professional services in architectural conservation, the RIAI developed an accreditation system to recognise differing levels of specialist expertise.

There are three Grades of Accreditation, Grade 1 being the highest and Grade 3 the basic entry level to the System.

The RIAI Skills Matrix for Conservation Projects is designed to explain the level of skills demonstrated by RIAI Conservation Accredited Architects at each of the three Grades. This document will assist you as a Client in assigning projects accordingly.

The following is a list of registered architects with Conservation Accreditation: 

RIAI Grade 1 Conservation Architects
RIAI Grade 2 Conservation Architects
RIAI Architects Accredited in Conservation Grade 3

What grade of RIAI Conservation Accredited Architect should advise on your building?

The grade of RIAI Conservation Accredited Architect you should choose depends on a number of factors:

  • The significance of the building and site. Is it a Protected Structure and, if so, is it designated by the Planning Authority as a building of International, National, Regional or Local importance?
  • The general condition of the building.
  • The nature and extent of the works to be undertaken.
  • The category of building. Some architects have specialist expertise in particular building types - churches, for example
  • Whether specialist conservation input is needed for a particular aspect of the work – the stonework perhaps.

Obviously the more important the building and the more serious and complex the work to be carried out the higher the Grade you will be looking for. You need an architect with the expertise, skills and experience appropriate for the job, so you should check not only the Grade at which the Practice is accredited but also the type and extent of work they have done in the past.

This can be done by:

  • Examining previous works undertaken by the practice
  • Interviewing the practice
  • Establishing whether an architect/practice has received recognition for work to historic buildings – awards, medals etc.
  • Clarifying with the architect/practice what role they played in previous projects – as lead architect or in a minor role.

Other sources of information about the type of work undertaken by architectural practices are:

  • The local Planning Authority
  • The Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht
  • The Irish Georgian Society Skills Register

Appointing your Architect

Every member of the RIAI, whether accredited in conservation or not, has the professional responsibility to recognise the limitations of their competence. They may not undertake work that lies outside this competence, and should advise their clients accordingly. For example, a member accredited at Grade 3 may recommend either that your project should be handled entirely by a Conservation Architect Grade 1 or 2, or that a Conservation Architect Grade 1 or 2 should be engaged as consultant on your project or for particular aspects of it. Similarly, a planning authority may also recommend that a Conservation Architect Grade 1 or 2 be engaged for a particular project or for particular aspects of a project.

There are a variety of arrangements by which these services can be provided and you will need to discuss and clarify these before you enter into a Client/Architect Agreement with your Architect. For example, for work on a Protected Structure of some importance you might select a Conservation Architect Grade 1 or 2 to carry out all of the architect’s tasks from briefing to completion. On the other hand, if the project was a large industrial complex on a site that included a historic building or Protected Structure you might select a practice with specialised expertise in industrial buildings but also appoint a Grade 1 or 2 Conservation Architect as a consultant to advise on the conservation aspects of the project. For work on a non-Protected modest terrace house built in the 19th century, for example, you might appoint an Architect accredited at Grade 3, but on the understanding that they will advise you if some issue needing more specialist conservation advice emerges in the course of the project.