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What is an architect contract?

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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What should be included in an architect contract template?

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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What are the essentials of an architect contract?

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.

Use this template

The simplest way to create a legally sound contract. Check out an example below

Architect Contract Template

This Contract is between Sample Client (the "Client") and John Doe (the "Architect").

The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Architect to do the following: The Architect will assist the Client with architectural services.

1.2 Schedule. The Architect will begin work on August 21, 2020 and the work is ongoing. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Architect at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 6, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Architect a rate of $80.00 (USD) per hour. Of this, the Client will pay the Architect $200.00 (USD) before work begins.

1.4 Expenses. The Client will reimburse the Architect's expenses. Expenses do not need to be pre-approved by the Client.

1.5 Invoices. The Architect will invoice the Client weekly. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within 15 days of receiving the invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of 5.0% per month on the outstanding amount.

1.6 Support. The Architect will not provide support for any deliverable once the Client accepts it, unless otherwise agreed in writing.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Architect is creating “work product” for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as drafts, notes, materials, mockups, hardware, designs, inventions, patents, code, and anything else that the Architect works on—that is, conceives, creates, designs, develops, invents, works on, or reduces to practice—as part of this project, whether before the date of this Contract or after. The Architect hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Architect is giving the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Architect's Use Of Work Product. Once the Architect gives the work product to the Client, the Architect does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Architect here. The Client gives the Architect permission to use the work product as part of the Architect's portfolio and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the Architect's work and not for any other purpose. The Architect is not allowed to sell or otherwise use the work product to make money or for any other commercial use. The Client is not allowed to take back this license, even after the Contract ends.

2.3 Architect's Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Architect's help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Architect agrees to help with that. For example, the Architect may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Architect, the Architect agrees that the Client can act on the Architect's behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Architect after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Architect hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Architect's agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Architect and on the Architect's behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Architect's IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Architect might use intellectual property that the Architect owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as “work product.” This is called “background IP.” Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, and web application tools. The Architect is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Architect is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client’s products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 11.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Architect cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Architect's Right To Use Client IP. The Architect may need to use the Client’s intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Architect to build a website, the Architect may have to use the Client’s logo. The Client agrees to let the Architect use the Client’s intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Architect's job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Architect any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.

3. COMPETITIVE ENGAGEMENTS. The Architect won’t work for a competitor of the Client until this Contract ends. To avoid confusion, a competitor is any third party that develops, manufactures, promotes, sells, licenses, distributes, or provides products or services that are substantially similar to the Client’s products or services. A competitor is also a third party that plans to do any of those things. The one exception to this restriction is if the Architect asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Architect uses employees or subcontractors, the Architect must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.

4. NON-SOLICITATION. Until this Contract ends, the Architect won’t: (a) encourage Client employees or service providers to stop working for the Client; (b) encourage Client customers or clients to stop doing business with the Client; or (c) hire anyone who worked for the Client over the 12-month period before the Contract ended. The one exception is if the Architect puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Architect may hire that candidate. The Architect promises that it won’t do anything in this paragraph on behalf of itself or a third party.


5.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

5.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

5.3 Architect Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Architect promises that it owns the work product, that the Architect is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Architect uses employees or subcontractors, the Architect also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Architect giving the Architect any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Architect's background IP and work product.

5.4 Architect Will Comply With Laws. The Architect promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations.

5.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Architect promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Architect has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Architect has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

5.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Architect if the Architect has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

5.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Architect with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.

6. TERM AND TERMINATION. This Contract is ongoing, until ended by the Client or the Architect. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed. The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 11.4. The Architect must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Architect for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Architect for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don’t end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Competitive Engagements); 4 (Non-Solicitation); 5 (Representations); 8 (Confidential Information); 9 (Limitation of Liability); 10 (Indemnity); and 11 (General).

7. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. The Client is hiring the Architect as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

- The Architect will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.- The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Architect is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.- The Client will not provide the Architect with any training.- The Client and the Architect do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.- The Architect cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.- The Architect is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).- The Architect is responsible for its own taxes.- The Client will not withhold social security and Medicare taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Architect or any of the Architect's employees or subcontractors.


8.1 Overview. This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Architect must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

8.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Architect may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Architect promises to treat this information as if it is the Architect's own confidential information. The Architect may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Architect use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Architect cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Architect written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Architect may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Architect must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Architect promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Architect written permission first. The Architect must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Architect's responsibilities only stop if the Architect can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Architect came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Architect came across it, but not because of anything the Architect did or didn’t do; (iii) the Architect already knew the information when the Architect came across it and the Architect didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Architect with the information without requiring that the Architect keep it a secret; or (v) the Architect created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

8.3 Third-Party Confidential Information. It’s possible the Client and the Architect each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Architect each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Architect is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.

9. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


10.1 Overview. This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Architect or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Architect did, then the Architect may promise to come to the Client’s defense or to reimburse the Client for any losses.

10.2 Client Indemnity. In this Contract, the Architect agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Architect has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Architect of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Architect of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Architect Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Architect (and its affiliates and its and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


11.1 Assignment. This Contract applies only to the Client and the Architect. The Architect cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client’s written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Architect's permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

11.2 Arbitration. As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

11.3 Modification; Waiver. To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Architect must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

11.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party’s address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

11.5 Severability. This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that’s the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

11.6 Signatures. The Client and the Architect must sign this document using Bonsai’s e-signing system. These electronic signatures count as originals for all purposes.

11.7 Governing Law. The laws of the state of Delaware govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Architect under this Contract, without regard to conflict of law principles of that state.

11.8 Entire Contract. This Contract represents the parties’ final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


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