Written Contract Requirement
Architects must use written contracts when contracting to provide architectural services in California. Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 5536.22 requires an architect to ensure that a written contract is in place prior to commencing any architectural work, unless the client authorizes the architect, in writing, to start work before the contract is executed. The law specifies minimum required items to be in the contract, including services to be provided, amount and method of payment, information on the architect and client, and procedures for additional services and termination of the contract. The legislation exempts certain types of work arrangements.
An architect must use a written contract when contracting to provide architectural services. The architect must provide the contract or use a written contract provided by the client (many public agencies and corporations use their own contracts).
The written contract has to be executed prior to the architect’s commencing work, unless the client authorizes the architect, in writing, to start work earlier. For example, a client may wish the architect to begin preliminary analysis or initial design before the final scope of the project is established, or to begin work before the legal department has completed the lengthy contract review process.
Minimum Contract Contents
Clients or architects may add to the contract, but at a minimum it must include the following five items:
- A description of the project for which the client is seeking services.
- A description of the services to be provided by the architect to the client.
- A description of any basis of compensation applicable to the contract and the method of payment agreed upon by both parties.
- The name, address, and license number of the architect, the name and address of the client, and the project address.
- A description of the procedure that the architect and the client will use to accommodate additional services and contract changes, including, but not limited to, changes in the description of the project, in the description of the services, or in the description of the compensation and method of payment.
- A description of the procedure to be used by either party to terminate the contract.
- A statement identifying the ownership and use of instruments of service prepared by the architect.
- A statement in at least 12-point type that reads: “Architects are licensed and regulated by the California Architects Board located at 2420 Del Paso Road, Suite 105, Sacramento, CA 95834.”
The law provides exemptions for the following:
- Professional services rendered by an architect for which the client will not pay compensation.
- An arrangement as to the basis for compensation and manner of providing professional services implied by the fact that the architect’s services are of the same general kind which the architect has previously rendered to and received payment from the same client.
- If the client knowingly states in writing after full disclosure of this section that a writing which complies with the requirements of this section is not required.
- Professional services rendered by an architect to a professional engineer registered to practice engineering under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700), or to a land surveyor licensed under Chapter 15 (commencing with Section 8700).
- Professional services rendered by an architect to a public agency when using that public agency’s written contract.