Working with a developer in another state


I am a licensed architect in California and have a client that has a project in another state. The client has a set of plans from another architect that fail to meet their standards or building code. They requested I do a quick peer review, once I gave my feedback they asked if I could take over and product the construction drawings. I informed them that I can't stamp the plans because I don't have a license to practice architecture in that state, they would need a willing licensed architect in that state to be the architect of record. 

All of my work has been in California using the AIA B101 contract, not ready sure how o handle this situation. What type of contract would I use for such work, because I will not be the architect of record. Can I team up with an registered architect in the state of the project as a joint venture. 

May 4, 19 11:34 am

The first thing I would do is call the architect and get the other side of the story. Smells bad. 

May 4, 19 12:36 pm

See- this is where your savyness as a businessman should have come in... have you heard of reciprocity or hiring someone to provide you with the expertise in that state? That's like expecting Rem Koolhaus to know how to do complex waterproofing details... 

May 4, 19 12:37 pm


If the client still insists to want you to do the service, you can recommend that to them that you will have to undergo reciprocity. If the state in question is Oregon, if you have an NAAB accredited degree: Fill this form out:

Submit with the fee and all required documentation and have all the documents that needs to be transmitted by NCARB and Licensing authorities sent to OBAE. 

ONCE, you done that, you may need to take the Jurispudence Exam & pass it. 

They may require you to go through the oral interview at a board meeting. 

Do not forget to get the form(s) notarized as maybe required.

There is two other neighboring states to California. (Nevada and Arizona)

Do not start anything further until that is done with regards to the project.

May 4, 19 8:07 pm

You will want to wait until you have received notice from the licensing board that the registration is complete and you have your registration / license #. This is basic public knowledge stuff. It would be to avoid getting into any trouble practicing before license was received and active because there could be hang ups in the process for any reason that may take time.


Alternatively, you would most likely be able to work collaboratively under the direct supervision and control of the licensed architect in that state in question. This may be faster for this project but if you get any other projects from that state or others, you may want to get started with the reciprocity process for that state and/or others. I'm a building designer (largely inactive at this time) in Oregon that works on exempt buildings per Oregon law. The project may or may not require a license in particular state. Take that into consideration.


If the project is such that a license is not required, then do not use the architect title or stamp in that state. You may just state "designed by: ___________________" (fill in your name) and you may apply your signature nearby. No title. Don't use your business name unless the name does not contain the words: architect, architecture, or architectural or similarly sounding alternative spellings like arkitekt Arktekture or anything that that confusingly similar that a person may reasonably infer that you are offering architectural services. Some architects will have two businesses. One for residential design (for example) and one for architecture. This way, they can work on houses in other states without necessarily undergoing reciprocity. You will want to avoid using the AIA contracts or you modify it so all references to title architect is replaced with residential designer, home designer, building designer or whatever other such titles and where "architectural services" or similar labels for services is replaced with building design services or residential design services or home design services or similar titles. Its a headache that you would have to navigate through in order to avoid a compulsory financial donation to the licensing board if you get what I mean.


I've said all I want to say on this so good luck.


You could either joint venture or subcontract to a licensed person in the other state to do the work.   You would have to do due diligence to find a person or firm you can work well with and trust.  The arrangement also will have to work for both of you financially and have liability properly distributed.  Either way, it will not be the cheapest way to go for your client.   Will you developer friend be willing to pay for two architects?

Or you could get a reciprocal license in the other state.  That may or may not take a long time.  It will also not be free.  The other state may also scrutinize you to make sure you haven't entered their state and worked on the job prior to getting the license.

Miles' post above about checking with the previous architect is also good advice.   A developer trick is to take drawings from architect to architect, get a 30-60 days work done on them, and then split without paying the bill.

May 6, 19 11:55 am

Before you start tweaking on someone else's design, you should probably confirm who actually owns the drawings.  Did the A/E retain ownership of the documents?  Or, is everything owned by the developer? 

If you're using drawings owned by the A/E, you're opening yourself to a lawsuit. 

May 6, 19 1:28 pm

If you are not familiar with the term "Responsible Control", please explore it.   State licensing boards don't look kindly upon professionals stamping others' work without satisfying the terms of Responsible Control over the work.  Reviewing the set for code compliance is not enough in most (all) cases...

There is also the issue of copyright that the other architect has over the work.   The developer may have commissioned the other architect and may have a copy of the current design, but without an explicit release by the other architect the developer may not have the right to transfer the copyright to you.

May 14, 19 12:07 am

I totally agree with the point I think one should take care of the responsible control, without having an professional licensed it's very tricky to go for other architech.

May 14, 19 12:59 am

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