No license... how much to pay licensed architect to stamp drawings?

Aug 8 '12 130 Last Comment
Jul 29, 13 11:57 pm

Only in as much their money allows them to influence the architects aesthetic decisions. A good designer will steer his client to the correctly balanced result leaving little on the table for negative critique. There in lies the balance of politicking, you must talk a good game for them to trust your aesthetic instincts; it's as much sales as any other field, especially if your dealing with type A developers with strong directions; their branding becomes your stylistic cues...

Miles JaffeMiles Jaffe
Jul 30, 13 12:58 am

Have you ever worked for a developer? Have you ever produced a building at all?

Aug 22, 13 11:52 am


Some other countries such as the ones you mentioned above do not allowed "students" to build anything. In my case, I got my architect degree in Venezuela in one of the best schools in Caracas. Graduate as Architect and Master Planner.

1. There is NO 3 years bachelor in architecture in the countries you mentioned. IT IS A 5 YEAR program MANDATORY in 3 years you are a drafter nothing more than that (just like in Italy were I am originally from and since is a union I suspect in France is a 5 year program as well)

2. You are required to KNOW and execute ALL aspects of the project to get your degree (design and calculate structures mostly concrete and high tech, design and calculate plumbing, mechanical and be responsible for everything and everyone)

3. You take during the last year 2 semesters of professional practices which includes code research and understanding of ETHICS.

By the time I graduate in 2004 I have successfully built two high rises of 4 towers (14 floors each)  and was responsible for every single aspect of the project (getting up at 5am to be present when the concrete arrive).

By the time I move to the states in 2006 and started my license process it was a bliss. I accumulate more credits than required and pass the test with flying colors.

All and all. I do not think any respectable architect will ever sign and seal your dwg. and starving architect don't have licenses. 


Aug 23, 13 8:54 am

I suppose this discussion highlights the difference between how residential buildings are built (often without design professionals) and how larger buildings are built (always with design professionals) if you don't know the difference or haven't experienced it a few times then why are you talking?

Nov 20, 13 11:14 am

I came to this post looking for an answer to the original question. All other long (though interesting) side conversations at all, whether you approve or much is reasonable to chart for stamping/sealing a set of documents, from permit phase through construction?

Yes, of course I'll be reviewing the drawings beforehand (with a fine-toothed comb). The person doing the drawings is my associate, but we are not partners. The issue is that I am licensed in one particular state and he isn't. He is licensed in other states but doesn't want to apply for another license.

Donna SinkDonna Sink
Nov 20, 13 11:22 am

Your "associate" as in a member of the same firm, or as in a drinking buddy?

My state (Indiana) specifically states in the code that employees in a professional service firm can prepare the drawings that the architect in the firm then stamps.  That's standard practice.  

Aug 22, 14 5:58 am

Yes, Donna,

It is standard practice. Yet the requirements for a firm to promote "Architectural Services" to the public demands a licensed Architect to hold one of three titles. One, owner of the company; Two, corporate officer, Three, be one of the first two and or an employee in management position (meaning...overseeing the production of the documents). Soooo...the only stamping to be done by the "Architect of the Firm" are Firm Projects.

To reiterate what has been espoused countless times on this thread alone....

The Architect of Record must oversee the production of the instruments of construction (CD's).

The AIA should stop holding social events and actually do some real "Professional Elevating" (as their goal state since its inception in 1830's). This would include lobbying states to require all persons applying for construction permits to use an Architect, unless they are willing to do the owner/builder thing. But the caveat there should require that same person (not a proxy) to appear in person for permitting purposes. Also the building dept. should have "Architects" checking the compliance (not some municipally trained chimp). And the only permitted "Agent of Owner / Proxy" must be an Architect of Record (the hell with "Expediters")

I am purposely not conflating an Architect with an Engineer for this issue. There should be no grey area of responsibility where an Engineer can stamp Design / Planning Documents and an Architect can stamp any structural details or drawings.

These above mentioned "shoulds" are what would really create public value for the profession. Incidentally, the above model is exactly what the corresponding professional associations have done for Lawyers and Doctors. This is why everyone knows the base rate for a Lawyer is $300-$500 an hour. And that Doctors all drive luxury cars.

Defending the Architectural professions scope of work in the public domain is where the AIA has failed all of us Designers and Architects. Yes, I too am a still a lowly Designer...until November when I am finishing my exams (yeah for me). If Architects had the design permitting market legally cornered as Barristers and Docs' do their markets, then Architects too can live a life of luxury and kiss your student loans good bye with a couple of years starting salary. No more drafting in your Mama's garage, or basement, or attic, or diningroom....Sad, so sad.

This is why...Also...Lawyers and Docs are required by their profession (either by law or by standard) to be licensed before entering the profession. No will hire a J.D. holder to work as a Lawyer because in order to practice "Lawyering" they must be a Lawyer. Otherwise the court does not recognize them as a proxy for anybody. And...Docs must be "Docs" to gain hands on experience (residency) before the law allows them near a patient. You see...the public recognizes, values and respects these professions. When is the last time you heard someone ending an argument about anything with "I am calling my Architect". Never...because nobody respects Architects. They are just an overpriced designer as far as John Q. Public thinks.

I will put away my soapbox.

end of communication.

Aug 22, 14 9:46 am

emo.ochoa, Hear, hear!! Well said and written.

Aug 22, 14 11:58 am

emo, that post in nonsense on so many levels.  I don't have the time to hit every point but let me touch on a few that are obviously insane.  

1.  Doc and lawyers are not architects and work in real time.  This is a terrible analogy that keeps getting thrown around.  

2.  There are existing/competing professions that have a long established history of working in areas that cross over into the domain of architecture.  This is not the case in law and medicine.  Contractors often submit permit drawings for small projects and residential projects and your protectionist law would essentially deny them of their property rights.  Work is property and this financial loss or loss of service would be essentially a seizure of property and would require due process.  My sister is a lawyer and we have talked about this before extensively.  To take this right from contractors and designers one would have to prove that there is a substantial problem.  It would have to e reactionary.  Etc.  protectionism is a lazy lazy way of elevating the profession.  It will not elevate anything by for info people to pay more for a service that is not really needed like a plan submittal for a patio or gas firepit.  

Second, the math just doesn't work.  Do you have any IDea how many houses are built a year and how many improvements are made?  It would literally mean that each architect would have to design 5 houses per year for next to nothing fees and about 300 remodels each.  Not to mention landscape improvements...good luck with that.  

3. "Just a designer". Like Charles and Ray eames?  The loose use of the term "just" is why architects are regarded so poorly in society.  Arrogance is a big turn off.  Architect are designers blessed by the state with slightly more liability and control over construction.  That's all.  Relax.  

Aug 22, 14 1:54 pm

I'm a building designer. There is nothing lowly about it. In Oregon, I legally bear essentially the same liabilities as an architect for two basic factors at least: 1) I am an independent contractor (not to be confused with construction contractor definition) commercially engage as a profession for remuneration (compensation for services rendered).  2) The work on exempt buildings is essentially the same as it would be for an architect and the same standard of care applies to building designers as architects on exempt buildings in the eyes of the court as there is a basic legal requirement of all practitioners doing the same or substantially similar work to be held to the same standard of care which does not come from licensing laws. 

The fact of offering to perform such services is a claim to possessing the means to fulfill the services such as the knowledge and skills necessary for the services to be rendered either by the owner of the business or their partners and employees or those they subcontract. Bottom line, it is illegal to offer services that you do not have the means to fulfill. It is calld fraud. That applies to everyone not just architects.

ORS 12.130 of Oregon's Revised Statutes does not exempt me from legal action if I fail to perform services in a competent manner. That is why they can sue for negligence, tort, contractual or otherwise within the statutes of repose.

You can be a professional even if not licensed. It has to be understood that the legal definition in law is context dependent. The context of statutory definition is the context of the statutes. There is no title protection over the word "professional". Licesing laws do have to be careful not to cross U.S. Constitutional lines like abridging rights protected under the Bill of Rights. There is the 14th Amendment which essentially applies the conditions of the 5th amendment to the States.... which by the way predates architectural licensing laws in the U.S.

Don't assume you are "just a lowly..." anything. No one is going to take you seriously if you are too humble and shy. You need to evoke leadership and attention and evoke the command of respect without needing to utter a word. Body language, self-confidence and so forth. If you are meek, then you are prey to client who will use everything in their power to get you to give them what they want. They want everything for nothing if they can. Why pay for something if they can get it for free? Why give it away for free if you can be paid for it?

Some OneSome One
Feb 10, 15 2:12 pm

It is unfortunate that the profession of architecture is so divisive.

Feb 10, 15 2:35 pm

^ and you need to add that comment in an architectural forum thread dormant for 1 1/2 years because...?

Non Sequitur
Feb 10, 15 2:37 pm

For a second there, I thought Richard Balkins had come back... how unfortunate.

Feb 10, 15 2:39 pm

first post too.  i wonder what happened to richard balkins?

Saint in the City
Feb 10, 15 2:59 pm

^  He exceeded his Wikipedia cutting and pasting limit a few months back.

Feb 10, 15 3:18 pm

Ah... a fellow building designer. One thing I can say is there is just a tad bit of divisiveness among the architectural profession. One can only put up with so much divisive stupidity.

In the meantime, I have a project with a client that I need to get off my dead ass and complete soon. Then work on some software related projects unless more building design projects which begs the question.... do I want to do them. 

Non Sequitur
Feb 10, 15 3:22 pm

Ah, there he is.

null pointer
Feb 10, 15 3:22 pm
Feb 10, 15 3:32 pm

Richard, agree with "divisiveness"…in so many ways architects are their own worst enemies. Seem to spend an inordinate amount of time criticizing things and tearing things apart. Never really understood it, but the word “jealously” keeps popping up in my head…not sure that’s what it is.

Good to hear from you

Feb 10, 15 3:46 pm


LOL... really. Is that the limit of your thinking on software development.

Feb 10, 15 3:50 pm


Amazing it seems, I saw that among architecture students so it seems they take that baggage with them into architectural practice.

Feb 10, 15 4:01 pm

i'm willing to bet it's not jealousy.

Non Sequitur
Feb 10, 15 4:08 pm

... just reading that "interview" request thread.

Looks like some already have worse baggage without ever entering arch school.

Feb 11, 15 12:51 pm

interview request? can't seem to find it....

Mar 14, 16 4:23 am


You are an idiot. You keep repeating your same message over and over on multiple threads.

Mar 14, 16 4:43 pm

Pot calling the kettle black.

May 13, 16 2:23 pm

To the original poster "10":


                          "I was wondering what the general practice is for unlicensed architects to get their drawings stamped prior to construction by a licensed architect. Is their a typical rate or fee applied to such transactions?"


There is no such thing as an "unlicensed architect". Either you are a licensed architect or you are something else - anything that does not include the word "architect" in any way, shape, or form. Thus have the architect state boards ruled. Not saying I agree with this (it is a long-argued topic - perhaps even in this forum), but that is just the way it is.

Hopefully, you have made the effort by now to take the steps to become a Registered Architect.

May 27, 16 1:48 pm

Build it anyway, sue the local government if they try to intervene, then if necessary, state, then if necessary, federal government.

pillar of the earth
Sep 27, 16 2:30 pm

Let Santiago Calatrava design everything!

So......When you satisfy all of the state requirements to be licensed and registered you can design an airport, a hospital, a shopping mall and a 70 story skyscraper the next day because the "state" says so.... If you work directly for the architect it is ok for he or she to review the documents and stamp them but an independent designer can't hire the architect as a consultant to do the same thing? Unless of course that "designer" is a developer with enough money to circumvent the law by having others do his bidding. And the music goes round and round........

  • ×Search in:

Please wait... loading
Please wait... loading