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As a freelance architect, it’s important to have an architect contract in place. While most freelancers rely on emails and verbal agreements, it’s safer to work with a contract. Working without a contract that clearly states the terms and conditions of work can be costly. You may have to deal with unpaid projects and expensive lawsuits. Therefore, as a freelancer working on building designs, it’s important to work with an architect contract.

Before engaging in any business transaction, it is essential you and the other party involved fully understand their respective rights and obligations. As an architect, it is not advisable to start a project without having a signed architect agreement.  The American Institute of Architect establishes the use of architect agreements for multiple service orders between an architect and a project owner or company.

Architects bring your structural vision to life with the help of their technical know-how. But before commencing technical analysis for new jobs or one that needs restoration, you should draft an architect agreement template, which defines the goal, scope, and ultimately the business relationship you have with the project owner.

You should draft an architect agreement template if:

  • You’d be providing architectural services to an individual or business
  • You ‘re hiring an architect to restore a building or work on a new building project

The architect agreement document isn’t just a formality. Bonsai’s architect agreement templates are legal documents with the following benefits, among others.

  • It provides a comprehensive set of agreement terms and conditions for small or complex building projects. 
  • It provides architects and consultants with a defined set of roles and associated services with the project- lead designer, project lead & administrator
  • Defines responsibility of project owner and obligates them to bear the expenses of the project
  • Good track progress and about the details of work

For the newbies in the freelancing world, designing a contract may be a challenging task. However, with many templates online, one can’t get stuck. Moreover, with a few tips, you should be able to come up with an unbeatable architect contract.

Architect Contract Template
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Let’s have a look below.

1. Be specific about your services in your architecture contract template

It’s important to state both the services you’ll provide and the ones you won’t provide. Usually, this protects you from the client’s extra demands that aren’t included in the freelance architect contract. Once you’re clear about what you don’t offer and the client agrees to that, they’ll be contented with what they get at the end of the project. Again, you’ll only perform the agreed tasks for the price paid, and, therefore, this protects you from offering services that aren’t paid for. Also, ensure you include a nondisclosure agreement to assure your client that you won’t disclose any of their confidential information.

2. Choose your payment rates when drafting an architect contract template

As a freelancer, you need to be clear about what you charge for the services you provide. Based on your own specific needs, decide on a payment rate that you’re comfortable with but still keeping your client in mind. There are two main ways to bill a client; you can either set a fixed price or charge based on time and materials. For the fixed price, you simply set the project fee based on the variables that work for you. Usually, you approximate the total amount of time you think the project will take and then set the price. However, this mode of billing may cause you to lose money in case the project takes more hours than estimated. The other option is to charge hourly, but even with this, you need to provide an anticipated parameter for your client.

3. The extras of any architect contract template

Sometimes the client can add work to your project without reassessing the amount they need to pay. Therefore, apart from stating the services you’ll provide and those you won’t provide, it’s important to include some additional work that your client may not be aware they need to pay extra for. Include the additional work alongside the payment so that the client is prepared to pay extra for them. You may have a separate rate sheet for other services, or state it clearly that any service outside the scope will be charged at a given rate.

Architect Contract Template Sample
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4. Timeline of the architect contract template

If you’re a freelancer, you know that it’s a must to work with a timescale. You need to let your clients know how long it will take you to complete the project. However, when setting a timeline, ensure it’s achievable. The client relies so much on what you tell them, and failing to meet the set deadline might ruin the relationship. It’s necessary to know your limits and your speed. Can you beat yourself to meet a tight deadline? Or do you need an extra week to set a few things in order? That’s up to you to decide. As a freelancer, you should always deliver on time. So, be sure to fulfill your word to the client.

If you’re a freelancer working on building designs, ensure you have an architect contract in place to be on the safe side. It will protect you from unpaid for services and doing much for less money. Remember, in freelancing time is money. So, get paid for the work you do.

Architect Contract Template Example
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5. Essential sections of an architecture agreement template

The Canadian standard form of contract for architectural services includes the following sections: cover, table of contents, definition, schedules, fees, etc. See the relevant information you must not miss in each part of your architect agreement template below.

5.1. Cover page of the architect contract template

This section covers the title of the project and also identifies the parties involved in the agreement. Architect agreements should have a field to input the name of the architect and project owner, contact address, and phone numbers, among other personal information.

5.2. Definition and interpretation of the architect contract template

A well thought out architect agreement template should define terms used in the document for proper understanding. 

5.3. Design & construction documents related to the architect contract

The agreement obligates the architect to be responsible for the design and interpretation of all construction documents. The opinion of the architect supersedes that of the construction contractor in cases of disagreement on construction documents. 

Templates should carry the scope of design and drawing that the architect will provide.

Architect Contract Template PDF
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5.4. Client & architect obligations stated in the architecture contract template

Define the responsibility of clients like reimbursement and compensation and provision of materials.  In addition, it defines the role of the architect in monitoring and reviewing construction. 

5.5. Appointment & third party contractors/consultants covered by an architect contract template

Usually, architects work with a team, including consultants and designers. It is fair for all if the document appoints contractors and third party personnel that will work on the project. 

5.6. Payment & record section of the architect contract template

The architect agreement template should give room to add all fees and expenses associated with the project. It may include time-based rate charges or a fixed amount or both depending on the agreement between parties. Regulation and compliance laws of the region may also influence pricing. The payment schedule and method must be included in the agreement. 

5.7. Schedule of the architect contract template

This section includes the start and end date of the agreement plus estimated dates for specific milestones.

5.8. Ownership rights & confidentiality of an architecture contract template

You should add a clause that gives you ownership rights to retain designs and also license clients to use them. 

5.9. Indemnity, liability & insurance in an architect contract template

An architect may face large potential claims if something goes wrong during the design and monitoring of a project. Therefore, architects should have indemnity insurance that protects them and the client. The liability of an architect must be limited only to the project in question.

5.10. Conditions for termination of an architecture contract template

What are the requirements for termination? Include conditions for termination and untimely withdrawal from the agreement.

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