As an architect, you help make other people's lives easier. You help build the businesses and homes of their dreams, making sure that the final product is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. But what does it take to get to that point?
For starters, you need a comprehensive scope of work contract. This document serves as a blueprint for the entire project, laying out exactly what your responsibilities are and what the client can expect from you.
In this article, you’ll learn how to create scope of work contracts, so you can be sure that you're always protecting your interests.
Note: If you'd like access to our full suite of templates, try Bonsai today. We have architectural proposal templates as well as invoices so you can focus on growing your business. Claim your 14-day free trial today.
What Is An Architect's Scope Of Work Contract?
A scope of work contract (or SOW contract) is a legally binding agreement between an architect and their client. It outlines the services that the architect will provide, as well as the terms of those services.
The contract should be as specific as possible, so that there is no room for misunderstanding. For example, if you are hired to design a new home, your contract should specify the size of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the style of the home, etc.
Who Gives A Statement Of Work?
In most cases, it is the architect who will give the client a statement of work. This is because the architect is the one who will be responsible for delivering the project.
However, in some cases, the client may request a scope of work from the architect.
For example, if the project is very complex, the client may want to have a detailed understanding of the architect's roles and responsibilities.
It is also worth noting that a scope of work contract can be used for projects other than construction. For example, if you are hired to write a book, your contract should specify the length of the book, the deadline for completion, and how much you will be paid.
What About AIA Contract Documents?
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is a professional organization for architects in the United States. The AIA offers a variety of contract documents -- which are now recognized as the industry standard -- that can be used for both small and large projects.
One of the most popular AIA contract documents is the AIA A201 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. This document outlines the general terms and conditions of the construction contract, including the roles and responsibilities of the architect and the client.
Another popular AIA contract document is the AIA A107 Standard General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. This document is similar to the A201, but it is specifically for smaller projects.
It's important to note that you are not required to use AIA contract documents. However, many architects find them to be helpful, as they provide a starting point for the negotiation process.
These documents can also be very helpful when creating a scope of work contract, as they provide a template that can be used to create a legally binding agreement.
Elements of an Architectural Scope of Work Contract
Every scope of work contract will be different, but some basic elements should be included in every contract. These include:
Timeline and Deliverables
An important element that should be included in your scope of work contract is a timeline. This will outline when certain tasks need to be completed and when the project will be considered finished.
It's important to be realistic with your timeline. You don't want to set unrealistic expectations for yourself or the client. If you're not sure how long a task will take, it's better to overestimate the amount of time it will take to complete the task. This way, you won't find yourself in a situation where you're rushing to finish a task and end up doing a subpar job.
In addition to a timeline, you'll also want to include deliverables in your contract. Deliverables are the products or services that you will provide to the client. This could include things like design plans, construction documents, or project administration services.
Again, it's important to be specific when outlining the deliverables in your contract. You'll want to make sure that the client knows exactly what they're getting from you and when they can expect to receive it.
Duties and Responsibilities
The next element of your scope of work contract should be a list of your duties and responsibilities. This will outline what you are expected to do during the project.
Some common duties and responsibilities that are typically included in scope of work contracts include:
- Initial Consultation: This is the first meeting between you and the client. During this meeting, you'll discuss the project goals and objectives and get an idea of what the client is looking for.
- Site Analysis: A site evaluation is conducted to understand the existing conditions of a site before any design work begins. This helps to inform the design process, confirm project feasibility, and ensure that the final product is responsive to the site conditions.
- Design Concept: Once the site analysis is complete, you'll begin developing design concepts. This is where you'll start to sketch out your ideas for the project and create initial drawings.
- Design Development: After the design concept phase is complete, you'll begin to develop the design further. This phase includes creating more detailed drawings and specifications.
- Construction Documents: This phase includes creating drawings and specifications that will be used by the contractor to build the project.
- Bidding and Negotiation: This is where you'll solicit bids from contractors and negotiate the terms of the contract.
- Construction Administration: Once the contractor has been selected and the construction contract has been signed, you'll begin working with mechanical engineers, structural engineers, consultants, and other professionals to oversee the construction process. This includes regular site visits to ensure that the project is progressing as planned and that any issues that arise are addressed.
- Project Close-Out: Once the project is complete, you'll conduct a final walk-through with the client to ensure that they are satisfied with the results. You'll also address any punch list items and ensure that all warranties and guarantees are in place.
This section outlines how much you'll be paid for your services. There are a few different ways that architects are typically compensated. The most common method is by the hour. In this case, you'll want to include your hourly rate in the contract.
Another common method of compensation is a lump sum. With this method, you'll agree to provide all of the services outlined in the architect contract template for a set price. This can be beneficial if you're able to accurately estimate the amount of time that will be needed to complete the entire architectural design project.
Finally, some architects are compensated on a percentage basis. In this case, you'll receive a certain percentage of the total project cost. This method is typically used for larger projects.
The final element that should be included in your scope of work contract is a reporting requirement. This will outline how often you are expected to provide updates to the client on the project's progress.
Reporting requirements will vary depending on the project, but they typically range from weekly to monthly reports.
Download Bonsai's Free Architect's Scope Of Work Contract Template
Creating a scope of work contract doesn't have to be a daunting task. With Bonsai's free contract template, you can create a professional and legally binding document in minutes. Simply download the template, fill out the necessary information, and have your client sign it. Once you have a signed contract in place, you can focus on what's important – designing and building great projects. Claim your 14-day free trial here.