Architect Contract

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Architect Contract

A Brief Introduction About the Architect Contract

Architect contract is also differently called architectural design contract, architecture contract. It details the scope of services to be provided by the architect as part of a new construction or renovation. The work of an architect involves a lot of intricacies, and the life of the building lies in it.

Undoubtedly it involves huge expenditure too. Hence a property owner would like to have all the terms and conditions of the architectural work clearly explained in writing, and the same is mutually agreed between the owner and the contractor. The architecture contract can be entered in all the business models – Business to Business (B2B), Business to Customer (B2C). The scope of service and the consideration will differ based upon the type and size of the contract.

Who Takes the Architect Contract?

The parties to an architectural contract are

  • The architect – with his professional knowledge, skill, and expertise, he brings life to the dream and vision of a construction project. His work involves a lot of geometrical and mathematical calculations and interpretations. He may be hired for a brand new construction project or renovation of an existing project. He engages labor to execute the fieldwork and is responsible for the overall design, planning, and implementation of the structural works.
  • Owner of the property – He holds a legal title for land or building, which he intends to develop as residential property for his personal use or as a commercial property. In any case, the owner expects the architectural work to be completed with perfection and promptly. He agrees to pay a specific amount as consideration to the architect for the work completed and accepted.
  • Contractor – He does not sign the contract. But he is responsible for the overall completion of the project and works collaboratively with the architect. 

Purpose of an Architect Contract

The work of an architect is complex and costly. Any small mistake on the part of the architect shall collapse the entire construction plan. Hence a written architectural proposal measures and standardizes the works to be performed by the architect at each stage of construction.

The manner of quantifying the deliverables in an architectural services proposal is also explained in detail to ensure that the architect has carried out what is agreed by the property owner and the contractor. The objective of entering into architectural proposal is also to provide delineation on the responsibilities of the property owner and the architect. The contract also works as a control that the parties abide by the state and local laws for construction.

Contents of an Architect Contract

Apart from the name and address of the parties to the agreement, the contract shall have a detailed explanation on the following items

Details of the project site with maps and sketches

  • Administrative services – The architect develops the plan and gets it done by the people working under his team. The working hours and the timelines for inspection need to be mentioned in the clause. The architect is also responsible for providing samples and models to the owner for his review, and any suggestions provided by the owner shall be properly considered. All the works done during the initial stages of construction are explained.
  • Design services – These services are carried out post-construction. They should comply with the respective local and state acts.
  • Designs and plans – The architect holds the intellectual property rights of any design or plan created by him
  • Obligations of parties – The clause shall define the obligation of the architect and the owner concerning each scope of services agreed upon.
  • Deliverables – The manner and time of assessing the deliverables
  • Payment – The cost of the project and the additional costs involved on account of alterations or changes suggested by the owner shall be explained in detail. The owner shall clarify the various timelines of payment based on deliverables.
  • Insurance, Third-party rights, Confidentiality, Assignment, Non-solicitation, Notices, Dispute resolution, Jurisdiction are the other clauses that form part of an architect contract.

How to Draft an Architect Contract?

The pre-planning and discussion are more important for an architect’s contract than any other contract. This is otherwise called the architecture proposal stage. The owner of the property shall hold a meeting with the architect and the building contractor and explain in detail about his vision and expectations on the construction.

The architect shall submit the models, plans, and sketches to the satisfaction of the owner. Once the parties are satisfied with the proposed activities that are going to be undertaken, they can enter into a formal agreement mentioning all that they have agreed for. The agreement shall contain schedules of work, fees, sketches, and plans, which are essential to resonate with the essence of the relationship.

The architect shall negotiate the terms and timelines of work and payment. The owner shall ensure that the terms of the contract shall work in the best interest of all the parties to the agreement. Negotiation shall happen only during the planning and discussion stage. Once the contract is signed, there is no looking back.

Benefits and Drawbacks of an Architect Contract

The benefits of entering an architect agreement are:

  • The parties to the agreement are aware of each other’s responsibility.
  • The owner of the property is assured of an uninterrupted flow of work.
  • The contract helps the architect to schedule and efficiently plan his work.
  • Having a signed contract helps the architect to build a workable model for his business.

The contract also entails the following disadvantages:

  • Sometimes the contract itself becomes too complex; the parties to the agreement suffer for a difference of interpretation concerning the facts.
  • If third parties or sub-contractors are involved by the architect, it becomes difficult for him to monitor the compliance of the terms of the contract.
  • The owner of the property is always under the pressure of financing to avoid delay in completion.

What Happens in Case of Violation?

The reasons for violation of an architect contract(1) can be very pricey. The lack of diligence on the part of the architect or his team can lead to a violation of important clauses of terms of service of the contract. The owner may request the architect to rework or alter without charging any additional fees. He may require the architect to stop the works for the time being until things are settled. Any property owner would want to compromise things on discussion and negotiation instead of getting into a legal battle, as it will bring heavy losses to him. The owner, if fails to pay the eligible fees to the architect, can be a case of violation.

Given the complexity of a construction business, getting things documented, and keeping it as a legally enforceable one can save the businessman from several hassles. The property owner and the architect shall ensure that the contract serves not only the purpose of their respective businesses but also it actively complies with the relevant state and local laws.