Free Architect Contract Template

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What is an Architect Contract?

An architect contract is an agreement between an architect and a project owner or company. The contract clearly defines the architect’s scope and establishes essential terms, including payment, intellectual property rights, and more.

Note: You can create your very own architect contract when you sign up for Bonsai’s free platform today. Our templates include everything you need to deliver secure, legally vetted contracts to more clients.

Why Do You Need an Architect Contract?

If you are a freelance architect, a written agreement is a critical part of your business. Not only can it help prevent unpaid invoices, but it can also protect you in a legal dispute. We strongly recommend that professional architects abstain from work until all agreements are in writing.

What to Include in the Architect Contract

Your architect agreement should clearly define all of the terms, responsibilities, parties, and deliverables of your project. In order to do so, you must create a thorough document with all of the essential elements. We’ve reviewed hundreds of architect agreements, and know what needs to be included to create a watertight project contract. Luckily for you, we have listed them in detail below.

Architect Agreement Cover Page

The cover page of your architect agreement is written to identify each party involved in the contract. It serves as an introduction to the project(s).

This section of the contract is generally the place where you would establish a relationship and your intent to work for a client or organization. It’s also a great idea to include the start date of the contract and both parties’ contact information, such as their address and phone number.

List of Services You Provide

As a freelancer architect, you may wear many hats, but that doesn’t mean that you offer full-service solutions to all of your clients. Therefore, it’s crucial that you clearly document all of the services for which you are solely responsible. We urge you to be as transparent as possible to ensure client satisfaction at the end of the project.

That’s not all!

As much as it is crucial to include a list of the services you will provide, it’s also important to define the services you don’t offer. It’s not uncommon to find clients who ask you to do things outside your architect’s scope. When you list the services you don’t offer, you can avoid any responsibilities you weren’t paid for.

The Cost of Your Services

To make sure that you are adequately paid, you should take the time to cover your rates and fees. Not only does this include amounts, but this section of your documents needs to cover how you charge your client. Do you offer financing? Will you charge by the hour or the project?

If you choose a fixed price per project, your overall rate should be based on the amount of time you anticipate spending on the job. Don’t forget to include the cost of materials! While this method is often the simplest, it could cause contractors to lose money if you underestimate your time.

When an architect charges by the hour, they will need to keep records of all the time they spend working on the projects. This ensures fair compensation even if the project takes longer than expected. However, this method could cause you to go over a client’s budget, so you should discuss estimated costs in either case.

Timeline for Your Architect Project

The next element to include in your architect agreement is your project timeline. When you take the time to create a detailed timeline for all of your projects, both parties can keep track of the architect project schedule and progress.

While writing an impressive timeline to win a contract might be tempting, you should also be realistic to avoid disappointment or disputes. It’s more important to create an accurate timeline. You can do so by considering:

  • Your Architect Services
  • Your Freelancing Schedule
  • The Scope of the Project
  • Your Limits
  • Extenuating Circumstances That Could Arise

Indemnity, Liability, and Insurance Terms

Architects have a lot of responsibilities and could face a legal dispute if something goes wrong. This is especially true when it comes to the design process and monitoring of projects.

For that reason, we recommend that you include an indemnity clause or insurance in your documents. Your agreement should dictate that the architect’s liability is limited only to the project described in the contract.

How to write an Architect contract

There’s more to writing an architect contract than simply including the correct documents. If you want to write a professional agreement that impresses your client, we recommend the following tips.

Find out Exactly What the Client Wants

Before you begin drafting your architect agreement, you want to make sure that you have a solid understanding of what your client wants. When you take the time to have a discovery meeting with all parties involved, you can address all of their needs in the contract.

For example, many companies desire confidentiality to protect the details of their projects. Therefore, you might need to add NDA documents to your agreement.

You also might find that the company has a strict timeline. You must keep all of these things in mind to make sure they are satisfied with the contract and ready to move forward.

Highlight What Sets You Apart

Your contract is one of the first impressions you make on a client. If you have a poorly written agreement or a basic template, they will notice and may choose not to sign it. Instead, you should view your contract as an example of your professionalism.

What does that mean?

You should use it to highlight the qualities that set you apart from other contracts they may have seen. Everything should be well-written with no spelling or grammar mistakes. While writing might not be your strongest subject, it shows that you are taking the agreement seriously.

Freelancers can also show the clientele that they are detail-oriented by being meticulous with the contracts. Though writing a lengthy agreement with multiple documents feels tedious, it demonstrates thoroughness.

Your list of services is another area where you can differentiate yourself. If you happen to offer services that another architect might not, you should make sure it is included in the document.

Discuss Intellectual Property Ownership

To avoid disagreements between parties, we strongly encourage architect freelancers to discuss intellectual property rights with their clients. In general, the architect retains the ownership of their design documents under copyright law. That means your design couldn’t be modified and reused without signing a written agreement.

With the “work made for hire” doctrine, however, things are different. U.S. Copyright Law gives clients complete authorship and ownership over designs that they commission. If you are seeking partial ownership or certain rights, you should consider including a section for intellectual property in your architect agreement.

Creating an Architect Contract is Simple with Bonsai

At Bonsai, we understand how time-consuming it is to write up a contract agreement for every client. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the process alone.

We offer a wide variety of free templates for architect contracts, so it’s easier than ever to sign more clients and get paid faster. In fact, we have changed the way freelancers conduct business with our:

  • Electronic Signature Features: You no longer have to print out documents and mail them to each client. When you sign up for our services, you can send electronic documents and sign all of them virtually. This expedites the process for bother parties and their written approval.
  • Automatic Reminders: By utilizing our automated reminders, you don’t have to send out a follow-up request to get your client to respond. We’ll give them a little nudge to get a faster response.
  • Multi-Currency Support: Is your client located outside of your country? Do you get paid in another currency? If so, you’ll love that our contracts address currency issues. We make it easier to earn money in any form!
  • Customizable Contracts: Lastly, we recognize that all parties have unique wants and needs, so we make it easy to tailor the structure of our free documents. You can add documents or remove sections that don’t apply to your business. We even allow you to personalize the branding for a more professional appearance.

How do you get started on your architect contract template? Simple:

  1. Sign up to Bonsai for free
  2. Choose your architect contract template from our gallery
  3. Edit the template, e-sign it, download it, send it to your client
  4. Wait for the helpful notification that your prospective client has read/signed your contract

Will I Need Additional AIA Contract Documents?

The answer depends on the details of your project. At Bonsai, we strive to cover all of your architectural proposal and contract needs. However, you may find that there are specific documents that we don’t have at the moment.

You may find AIA (American Institute of Architects) contract documents to be a good substitute when this occurs. They are fair and designed according to best practices.

Note: AIA contract documents are not free. You must pay for each one individually, and the fees are based on whether or not you are an AIA member.

If you’ve never created a contractor or delivered a project, then you probably have a lot of questions about the process. The following are just a couple of the questions we get most frequently.

Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about this template.

Do architects use contracts?

Architect contracts are typically used to govern the relationship between the owner and architect, allowing them to have a mutual understanding of the requirements and expectations of the job, which will minimize the chance of a later dispute.

What is architect prepared contract?

You want create a contract that covers all the basics so there is a mutual understanding of the job requirements and expectations. You might want to include the objectives and plans for the project, the timeline in which the work will take place and the fees and costs involved. Try using Bonsai's free contract template today, to ensure you don't miss out that important information!

The different types of contracts for architects include: Incentives, time-and-materials, labor-hour, indefinite delivery, and letter contracts.

The different types of contracts for architects include: Incentives, time-and-materials, labor-hour, indefinite delivery, and letter contracts.

How do your state’s laws impact your architect agreement?

Though U.S. Copyright Law governs the ownership of your designs, there are no federal laws that dictate licensing or regulations for the practice of architecture. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to worry about other laws or regulations.Depending on where you live, where your client is based, or where the design site will be, there could be other state laws that affect your architect contract and the language you must use. We recommend that you do independent research or reach to find out if your state has any architecture laws you need to consider.

Template preview

Free Architect Contract Template

Architect Contract

First Name
Last Name
Acme LLC.
First Name
Last Name
Corporation Corp.

This Architecture Design Contract (this “Agreement”) is entered into as of [ENTER EFFECTIVE DATE] (the “Effective Date”) by and between: [ENTER ARCHITECT NAME] (hereinafter “Architect”), located at [ENTER ADDRESS] and [ENTER CLIENT NAME] (hereinafter “Client”), located at [ENTER CLIENT ADDRESS] (collectively referred to herein as the “Parties,” and individually as a “Party”).

WHEREAS, Client intends to build a [ENTER DESCRIPTION] to be located at [ENTER ADDRESS], hereinafter called the “Project”; and

WHEREAS, Client desires to utilize the services of Architect in rendering the architectural design of the Project and Architect agrees to provide such services in accordance with the terms contained herein.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the mutual covenants, terms and conditions set out herein, and for other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, the Parties hereto agree as follows:


The Architect shall provide the following services (collectively the “Services”):

1.1 SDP.

Site development planning (“SDP”) of the grounds of the building, including other concomitant structures within the Project site, as may be determined by Clien

1.2 DA&E.

Basic Detailed Architectural and Engineering (“DA&E”) Design of the Project to be located at [ENTER ADDRESS].


2.1 Project Definition Phase.

This phase shall involve the definition of the requirements of the Project by Client. The Architect shall inform Client of the technical requirements of the Project and the professional fees associated with the Project. In this phase, Architect shall:

i. Consult with Client to ascertain the conceptual framework and related requirements of the Project and confirm such requirements with Client;
ii. Gather relevant information and data leading to the definition of the requirements of the Project, including the scope of the Architect’s Services; and
iii. Prepare an initial statement of probable construction cost.

2.2 Schematic Design Phase.

This phase shall consist of the preparation of schematic design studies derived from the Project Definition Phase, leading to conceptual plans. The Architect shall:

i. Evaluate Client’s program, schedule, budget, Project site and proposes methods of Project deliveries;
ii. Prepare the initial line drawings representing design studies leading to a recommended solution, including a general description of the Project for approval by Client; and
iii. Submit to Client a Statement of Probably Project Construction Cost (“SPPCC”) based on current cost parameters.

2.3 Design Development Phase.

Based on approved schematics and conceptual plans, Architect shall prepare:

i. The Design Development documents consisting of plans, elevations, sections and other drawings;
ii. The outline specifications to fix and illustrate the size and character of the entire Project as to the type of materials, type of structural, electrical, mechanical, sanitary, electronic and communications systems;
iii. The diagrammatic layout of the construction systems; and
iv. An updated SPPCC for submission to Client.

2.4 Contract Document Phase.

Based on the approved Design Development Documents, Architect shall:

i. Prepare the complete Contract Documents consisting of detailed designs and construction drawings, setting forth in detail the work required for the architectural, structural, electrical, plumbing/sanitary, mechanical, electronic and communication works prepared by the Architect and by the other state-regulated building professionals involved (if any);
ii. Prepare the technical specifications describing type and quality of materials, finish, manner of construction and the general conditions under which the Project is to be constructed;
iii. Submit to Client [ENTER NUMBER] sets of all construction drawings and technical specifications for purposes of obtaining a building permit;
iv. Update the SPPCC based on changes in scope, requirements or market conditions.


3.1 Fees.

Client agrees to pay Architect for the Services, a fee of [ENTER FEE AMOUNT] (the “Basic Fee”), with other payments and reimbursements hereinafter provided. Client shall pay any by Architect to Client within ten (10) days of receipt. Client shall pay interest on all late payments, calculated daily and compounded monthly, at the lesser of the rate of ten percent (10%) or the highest rate permissible under applicable law. All such payment shall be paid via [ENTER PAYMENT METHOD].

3.2 Payments.

Payments to Architect shall be made by Client as follows:

i. Twenty-Five Percent (25%) of the Basic Fee or [ENTER FEE AMOUNT] upon the signing of this Agreement.
ii. Upon completion of the Schematic Design Services, but not more than fifteen (15) days after the submission of the Schematic Design to Client, a sum equal to Twenty-Five Percent (25%) of the Basic Fee.
iii. Upon completion of the Design Development Services, but not more than fifteen (15) days after submission of the Design Development documents to Client, a sum equal to Twenty-Five Percent (25%) of the Basic Fee.
iv. Upon completion of the Contract Documents Services, but not more than fifteen (15) days after submission of the Contract Documents to Client, a sum equal to Twenty-Five Percent (25%) of the Basic Fee.


Client shall undertake the following acts:

a. Provide full information as to Client’s requirements for the Project;
b. When necessary, designate a representative authorized to act on Client’s behalf;
c. Promptly examine and render decisions pertaining to documents submitted by Architect to avoid unreasonable delay in the progress of Architect’s work;
d. Furnish or direct the Architect to obtain, at Client’s expense, a certified survey of the site, as may be required, topographical and/or relocation surveys covering grades and lines of streets, alleys, easements, encroachments and related information, boundaries, with dimensions and complete data pertaining to existing buildings, structures, trees, plants, water bodies, wells, excavations/pits, etc. and other improvements and full information as to the available utility/service lines both public and private; zoning compliances, clearances, deed/s of restrictions, encumbrances and annotations to titles, association guidelines and standards.
e. On guidelines and standards, and soil investigations/tests and test pits necessary for determining soil and subsoil conditions;
f. Promptly pay for architectural and all other engineering and/or other services required for the Project;
g. Arrange and pay for such legal, auditing, insurance, counseling and/or other services as may be required for the Project;
h. Pay for all reimbursable expenses incurred in the Project;
i. If Client observes or otherwise becomes aware of anything that may impair the successful implementation of the Project, Client must give prompt written notice to Architect.


a. Where Architect has to render additional services, additional compensation shall be required.
b. Scale Models. Costs for these services are to be paid for separately by Client and shall be subject to a coordination fee payable to Architect.
c. Per Diem & Traveling Expenses. If applicable, a per diem plus traveling and living expenses shall be chargeable to Client whenever Architect or Architect’s duly authorized representative is required to perform services at a locality beyond one hundred (100) miles from Architect’s established office.
d. Changes Ordered by Client. If Architect renders additional services due to changes ordered by Client after approval of Architect’s outputs, Client shall pay Architect for the extra time, resources/drafting or other office expenses incurred.
e. Work Suspended or Abandoned. If the work of Architect is abandoned or suspended in whole or in part, Client shall pay Architect for the services rendered corresponding to the amount due at the stage of suspension or abandonment of the Services.


Any SPPCC or any Cost Estimate submitted by Architect can attain only a certain degree of accuracy. As Architect has no control over the cost of labor and materials, or the many factors that go into competitive bidding, Architect does not assume any professional responsibility for such cost estimates.


All designs, drawings, models, specifications and other contract documents and copies thereof, prepared, duly signed, stamped and sealed and furnished as instruments of service, are the intellectual property and documents of Architect, whether the work for which they were made is executed or not, and are not to be reproduced or used on other work except with a written agreement with Architect.


Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Agreement, Architect makes no warranties and disclaims all warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose with respect to the Services to the extent permitted by applicable law. Consultant makes no representations and/or warranties as to the success of the Services for any purpose or use. Past results are in no way a guarantee of results for any current client of the Consultant. Client hereby disclaims that it is relying upon or has relied upon any representation and/or warranty not included in this Agreement that may have been made by any person, and acknowledges and agrees that Consultant disclaims any such other representations and/or warranties.


Architect is an independent contractor with respect to its relationship to Client. Neither Architect nor Architect’s employees and/or contractors are or shall be deemed for any purpose to be employees or contractors of Client. Client shall not be responsible to Architect, Architect’s employees and/or contractors, or any governing body for any payroll taxes related to the performance of the Services.


This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of [ENTER STATE].


Any dispute or claim that arises out of or relates to this Agreement, or that relates to the breach of this Agreement or that arises out of or that is based upon this Agreement shall be resolved by arbitration in accordance with the then effective arbitration rules of (and by filing a claim with) the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”), and judgment upon the award rendered pursuant to such arbitration may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. Any such arbitration proceedings shall solely be conducted in [ENTER APPLICABLE COUNTY] County, State of [ENTER STATE].


In the event Client defaults in the performance of any of the terms, covenants, agreements or conditions of this Agreement, and Architect seeks to enforce all or any part of this Agreement, Client agrees to pay Architect’s reasonable attorney's fees.


Under no circumstances shall Architect be liable to Client or any third party for indirect, incidental, consequential, special and/or exemplary damages arising from the Services herein contemplated or any provision of this Agreement, such as, but not limited to, loss of revenue or anticipated profit or lost business, costs of delay or failure of delivery, or liabilities to third parties arising from any source. The maximum aggregate liability of Architect to Client arising out of or in connection with this Agreement shall not exceed the amount of any fees paid by Client to Architect for the Services described herein. For purposes of this section, “fees” does not include any payments made by Client to thirty-party servicers in connection with the Services provided by Architect.


Client agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless Architect and its officers, directors, agents, affiliates, distributors, representatives, and employees from any and all third-party claims, demands, liabilities, costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses resulting from Client’s material breach of any duty, representation and/or warranty under this Agreement.


If any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable, the remaining portions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect and construed so as to best effectuate the original intent and purpose of this Agreement.


The Parties agree they, nor any of their respective agents, will in any way publicly disparage, call into disrepute, defame, slander and/or otherwise criticize the other Party and/or the other Party’s subsidiaries, affiliates, successors, assigns, officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents or representatives, or any of the other Party’s products and/or services, in any manner that would damage the business or reputation of the other Party, its products and/or services or its subsidiaries, affiliates, successors, assigns, officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents or representatives.


This Agreement supersedes all prior agreements and understandings between the Parties for performance of the Services and constitutes the complete agreement and understanding between the Parties. The Parties may only amend this Agreement in a written document signed by both Parties.


First Name
Last Name
Acme LLC.
First Name
Last Name
Corporation Corp.