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RIBA's survey of clients offers opportunities for agile architects

Working with architects client survey results

09 November 2016

The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Working With Architects survey, which highlights how architects are perceived by construction clients, has been published today (9 November 2016) at the RIBA’s small practice conference.

The findings provide a snapshot of clients’ views regarding the design qualities of their projects and the services they received from their architects. The data provides intelligence for RIBA Chartered Architects and Practices, and will help the RIBA to prioritise events and services for members.

Former RIBA President and current RIBA Ambassador for Clients Stephen Hodder MBE said: “These findings are a vital body of intelligence for the profession and the RIBA. The results show the need for even closer collaboration between our profession and our clients; they present positive learning points for agile architects.”

Nigel Ostime of Hawkins\Brown, Chair of the Client Liaison Group, led the survey. He said: “This survey follows on from the qualitative research summarized in the 2015 ‘Client & Architect – developing the essential relationship’ report. How we are perceived is crucially important for our long-term commercial and professional wellbeing and we encourage all our members to look carefully at this report.”

The headline findings are:

Clients were overall pleased with their projects

Clients were highly satisfied with their buildings. Three-quarters of private domestic and commercial clients, and 51% of contractors, were either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ satisfied with their projects.

Architects were more highly rated than non-architects

Architects achieve higher client satisfaction ratings than non-architects in all performance measures, particularly for developing and interpreting the brief.

Architects’ design skills were highly rated

Clients were highly satisfied by their projects’ aesthetic and other design qualities (such as levels of daylight, room dimensions, ease of circulation, and so on) and their architects’ abilities to meet the brief.

Process management skills were less highly rated

Clients consistently rated architects’ process management skills lower than their design skills.

Architects selected through personal recommendation were highly rated

Architects selected through personal recommendation or because the client had used them before were rated significantly higher than architects selected in other ways.

Follow up rated highly

Architects who followed up after the end of the project, especially when not contracted to do so, were more highly rated than architects who did not.

Private domestic clients most satisfied

Private domestic clients consistently gave the highest ratings on all satisfaction measures.

Contractors least satisfied

Contractor clients consistently gave the lowest ratings on all satisfaction measures.


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey +44 (0)20 7307 3761
  2. The summary report is available to download for free.
  3. The ‘Working With Architects’ survey marks a new phase in the work of the permanent RIBA Client Liaison Group. Chaired by Nigel Ostime of Hawkins\Brown and includes Stephen Hodder MBE of Hodder Associates, RIBA Client Ambassador and immediate past president, Caspar Rodgers, Partner, Alma-nac, Ayo Allu, Head of Technical Department, Berkeley Group and Dale Sinclair of AECOM.
  4. The survey was an online questionnaire hosted on between May and the end of July 2016. 958 clients responded. A third were consumer clients, a third contractors, and a third commercial clients. The vast majority used registered architects for the project that they answered questions about, most of whom were also RIBA members. Data from the RIBA Client Survey was analysed by Mirza & Nacey Research.
  5. The survey was co-promoted by the RICS, the CIOB, Constructing Excellence, and the Home Owners Alliance. Working with these partner organisations, the RIBA will stage a roadshow of events in 2017 to disseminate the results around the country.
  6. The Client Liaison Group’s landmark Client & Architect: developing the essential relationship was published in 2015. It reported on the findings of roundtable meetings with client representatives from eleven different sectors. The whole report is available free from the RIBA's Working with Clients pages.
  7. The Royal Institute of British Architects (@RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.

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