10 Things to Confirm Before Starting Work
1. THE PROGRAM • The program is the Owner’s list of requirements for the project. It forms the scope of work and is important to clarify up front. 2. OWNER’S BUDGET FOR THE COST OF WORK • Be clear about whether the Owner’s budget is for construction only, or if it is to include architectural fees. If the Architect doesn’t know your budget until the design is finished, they can’t properly advise you if your budget is realistic for the work you want to do. 3. OWNER’S ANTICIPATED DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION DATES • If your project is time sensitive, it is important to let the Architect know as soon as possible so they can advise if the timeline is achievable. 4. CLARIFICATION ON CONSULTANT RELATIONSHIPS • Some projects require additional consultants to be hired, including but not limited to, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, acoustical engineer, interior designer, etc. It is important to clarify up front whether the Architect will engage these consultants on the Own-er’s behalf, or if the Owner will engage these consultants directly. 5. ARCHITECT’S RESPONSIBILITIES • The Owner has a right to expect the Architect to act in a professional manner, and to carry sufficient Professional Liability insurance to protect the Owner against any errors and omissions . 6. SCOPE OF ARCHITECT’S BASIC & SUPPLEMENTAL SERVICES • Architect’s services can vary greatly depending on the Owner’s needs and budget. It is important to clarify which services are included in the Architect’s price, and which are supplemental. 7. COPYRIGHTS & LICENSES • The Architect, as the author of the drawings and specifications for a project, owns those documents as ‘Instruments of Service’ and they are subject to copyright laws. The Architect grants the Owner license to use the drawings for the project and only if the owner fulfills their obligations. 8. HOW WILL DISPUTES BE HANDLED • It is best if both parties agree up front how they will handle any disputes that may arise. It is common to agree that Mediation will be the first attempt at resolving any disputes before pursing arbitration or litigation. 9. TERMINATION OR SUSPENSION • It is common to include a clause that either party may terminate the contract upon not less than 7 days written notice. The Architect may include a termination fee in the contract and a licensing fee if the Owner intends to continue using the Architect’s Instruments of Service. 10. COMPENSATION • The contract should include the agreed compensation terms whether it is a fixed fee amount, a percentage of the cost of work, or a cost and charge (hourly) basis.