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Design contracts for unlicensed architects

apx9101

We're operating in Manhattan and a company approached us to renovate their 7000 sq.ft office space. We will be producing drawings, renderings, plans and specifications up to a design development set for an AOR to review and file. We will then produce an interior construction document set based upon final finishes, furniture and approved drawings. 

Anyone have any insight or a resource on contract templates for design services for unlicensed offices? 

Thanks

 
Nov 29, 19 3:20 pm

1 Featured Comment

All 23 Comments

Non Sequitur

So... you don't have a license to practice architecture?


Nov 29, 19 3:32 pm
Non Sequitur

which part? I'm thinking the whole "contract templates for design services for unlicensed offices" indicates the op is running a drafting service, not a licensed practice.

mrrightwilson
In my state of Washington, one may not design anything above 4000sqft and that’s not residential in use.

You’re talking about a commercial remodel, which will likely require a licensed professional. Although I don’t know about the rules in NY - most states have pretty similar thresholds for design services. The issue comes down to whether you understand exiting, fire and life safety, which “lay-people” haven’t learned about.
Nov 29, 19 4:25 pm
apx9101

We’re a design studio. Drafting is part of our services. We’re a collaborative with full time positions at larger architecture offices elsewhere. We offer conceptual design and drafting services to be passed onto the owners AOR for their review. 



Nov 29, 19 5:20 pm
archinine
Is your client aware that your business is not a licensed architectural firm? It would be prudent to include this information both to your potential client and in your contract. Your company may not produce the construction documents, the AOR will produce the construction & permit documents based on your ‘design set’ and file those documents with the DOB. The AOR will be (or ought to be) responsible for construction administration services as well, as they will later be responsible for closing out the permit which is under their license. While what you’re describing is not uncommon or unheard of, you don’t seem to know the basics and it would be in your best interest to identify the AOR as soon as possible and confer with a lawyer, preferably one versed in design services, to draft the contract for you. Also bear in mind the client/owner will need to sign a contract directly with the AOR for those separate services requiring a license, since your firm cannot legally proved said services. There is no scale of project in New York City for which an unlicensed designer is allowed to legally provide design services. Residential projects under a certain size OUTSIDE of NYC are possible without a license, but never in the city, never commercial. Too many people, too much liability.
Nov 29, 19 5:27 pm
apx9101

Yes, our client is well aware that we offer conceptual design services and that they will need an AOR to file, permit and sign off the project. We will be producing certain aspects of the interior construction documents that relate to custom decorative fixtures and millworker which do require a permit to construct. 

Yes, I understand the basics of project management and contracts. I’m not sure how you gathered that I do not? Noted on your advice regarding a lawyer. Do you happen to have a name of one? 


Thanks



Nov 29, 19 6:10 pm
b3tadine[sutures]

The long and short is this; what you seek, exists in all likelihood as an interior designer, look and see what they use, because the specifics of your question don't exist, and you will need to create your own. That is of course IDs are not required to be licensed in NYS. Here's my question; why do the thing, if you don't know how to do the thing? Architecture isn't only about design, it's about the hard stuff that no one likes; contracts.

Nov 29, 19 8:59 pm
apx9101

I sure hope architects aren't approaching work based soley on what they know how to do. It's called a "practice" of a reason. You should be always learning as an architect.

b3tadine[sutures]

My point exactly. I could give you a fish, if that'll make you happy.

apx9101

You sound like you’re only good at contracts.

b3tadine[sutures]

You sound like you're not good at much of anything but being a drafter, or doing lumion.


Non Sequitur

We get plenty of works from clients who choose the cheap option first by hiring drafting services from unlicensed folks... then realize they can't get permits or are stuck with garbage docs.  These clients, often tenants of our larger clients, come running to us for solutions only to be met with full arch service fees.

Nov 29, 19 11:00 pm
apx9101

It’s also true that clients are unimpressed with their architects and seek creative direction and lateral thinking. How doe
s your winning work relate to the topic of the thread?

Non Sequitur

because we get work from people after they go the cheaper way and hire non-licensed folks thinking they can save a few bucks. We can do creative just as well as anyone else. That's the easy part.

apx9101

It’s not about cheaper. You don’t know what you’re talking about. And if creative is simply a line item to you then therein highlights the problem.

Non Sequitur

I actually do know a thing or two (or three) about this. I see lots of projects go to shit because people pick cheap unlicensed folks who then produce unusable docs because of their lack of experience. I don't mind it, more work for me. Picked up 2 projects like this earlier today (not kidding here either) but we're likely to turn those away. Too busy.

b3tadine[sutures]

NS, don't you just love when people come here with questions, and then proceed to know evvvvvverything, but the answer to their own question?

Non Sequitur

yes Sir.

apx9101

What I love most is the absurd attitude from the clearly disenchanted. Totally zombie architects angry from a place of judgement and top down linear thinking.

b3tadine[sutures]

Listen Muppet, no disenchantment here, just laughing at the clearly millennial sense of entitlement that asks for real professionals to parachute into a problem that you're clearly not capable of managing yourself.

Non Sequitur

This is fantastic.

apx9101

I appreciate critical comments but this post is not about your subjectivity and generational politics. You have no knowledge of my experience or my capabilities. We don't need trolling. If your opinion is that designers should not engage in commissioned work unless are licensed then just state that and move on. Be an example of that sophistication and professionalism you are unsuccessfully trying to enforce and don't call people names.

b3tadine[sutures]

Born on third base, thinks they hit a triple. Reminds me of those Ivy kids, that worked at SOM, and got caught cheating on the ARE.

The OP’s lack of experience is evident in the title of this thread. Not to mention his posts.

joseffischer

AIA provides standard contracts... they're not free. If you aren't familiar with bridging contracts between firms and/or AoR contracts with their consultants, I'd start there.
As a "not-architect" I'd assume you'll want to be considered a consultant.
Further note, yes, consultants produce drawings that eventually go into the CD set, including engineers, interior design, kitchen consultants, etc, all of which, legally, have been coordinated by the architect of record.

Non Sequitur

where are all of the OP’s responses?

Nov 30, 19 8:04 am
apx9101

We will be working with a certified interior design office who has a solid working relationship with the building architect. Thanks for the helpful comments.

Nov 30, 19 12:03 pm
Non Sequitur

Then why are you needed then?

b3tadine[sutures]

NS, information that would've been helpful to know from the start, but what do I know, I've only been doing this fur twenty years.

apx9101

Process and philosophy behind a task. Architecture is not your contractors permit requirement.

Non Sequitur

I know what those words mean, but I don’t think you do.

curtkram

just a letter agreement should be fine.  you can pick carpet color and pendant lights, but you're not really responsible for anything.  

be very clear on what you're responsible for and what you're not responsible for.  ultimately the architect will be responsible for life safety, exiting, accessibility, and all that, so spell that out in your contract.  when you hand off your floor plan, they may need to change it.  account for that coordination in your schedule and fees.

Nov 30, 19 12:15 pm
BulgarBlogger

The AIA documents have the ultimate loophole: the The AOR is responsible for coordinating all of the owner's consultants... this includes design architects. However, the AOR must have a separate contract with the Owner and the design architect cannot pass the services of the AOR through.

Nov 30, 19 1:36 pm
BulgarBlogger

Rick, I'm pretty sure that as a Licensed Architect in NYS, I know more about practice law than you do.

joseffischer

ok good, glad someone else also brought up AIA docs and standard procedure with consultants

Volunteer

So, if the OP joined an architecture office and did exactly what he is doing now but had his work signed of by someone in the office with a liscense it would be quite OK? He is having his work signed of by someone with a liscense. I don't see any difference except he is doing the creative part that he would most likely not be allowed to do in an architecture office. Good for him. 

Nov 30, 19 1:46 pm
BulgarBlogger

Only if the owner of the firm is
licensed.

BulgarBlogger

Rick- what makes you think you are an expert? Every time a licensure questions comes forth on this forum, you pounce on it as if you're the authority. I could understand if this is how you approached a question on licensing in Oregon, but what I don't get is the level of confidence and importance you give yourself as a seeming authority on practice for all states when you aren't licensed in any of them. 

Nov 30, 19 5:53 pm
apx9101

We are not using the title architect. We are not architects.

apx9101

Thank you. This is Very helpful. We will consult accordingly with the owners chosen AOR.

BulgarBlogger

Rick... people in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks... you're calling yourself a "building designer". In my book, that's walking a fine line...

BulgarBlogger

and I don't care what the law says- let me ask you: who else designs buildings? Architects and Engineers- right? You're neither, so to call yourself a building designer is really pushin' it.


BulgarBlogger

Its not a protected title, but it sure as hell would make one believe you are either an architect or an engineer, and THAT is illegal...

BulgarBlogger

Rick, do what you gotta do man. I just have no idea how you find clients...

BulgarBlogger

I mean I can only imagine: you get some bottom of the barrel client, who is clueless, and you

BulgarBlogger

you are the cheepest and most willing around.

BulgarBlogger

Any legitimate owner would invest in a real and licensed architect and engineer, regardless if the building is exempt or not. No wonder your fees are so low.

BulgarBlogger

LOL Rick-

BulgarBlogger

Im just curious: why would anyone who is willing to invest upwards of a half a million dollars NOT go with a licensed architect? Your pricing has everything to do with having a contract in the first place.

BulgarBlogger

what was your highest contract?

BulgarBlogger

what was your biggest construction budget?

Non Sequitur

RickyB, how many half-million dollar building design projects do you handle per year?

5839

7307 does not limit the services of interior designers. It's "Special Provisions" governing what types of projects can be undertaken by joint partnerships. There is no dollar limit or project size limit on interior design projects. As long as they don't make structural changes they are not architectural services, and none of the statutes pertaining to architects and architectural services apply.

New York specifically allows interior designers to provide these services, on projects of any size and budget: 

  • layouts and planning of interior construction
  • furnishings and fixtures
  • cabinetry, lighting and finishes
  • schematic design and development
  • space planning
  • complete interior design specifications
  • working drawings
  • project monitoring and post-occupancy review
  • other aspects of interior construction not materially related to the main structural building components or systems



Featured Comment
archinine
Lol @ ‘certified’ interior designer. That is also meaningless in this context. The only ones capable of getting a permit for the described job in NYC are a licensed architect or licensed engineer. Speaking of, what kind of fit out is this? 7K SF of commercial space is likely going to require engineering services too which will invariably affect your light fixtures and other designed elements.

No licensed professional in their right mind is just going to ‘review and stamp’ an unlicensed outside party’s drawings. We get drawings from ‘designers’ all the time and they are never even close to ready or prepared for permitting. OP can’t be liable for anything because OP has no license. And no I don’t know any lawyers who write contracts for unlicensed designers because I’ve only done work at licensed architecture firms and utilized those firms’ contracts or AIA contracts, which pertain to licensed professionals.

Don’t get salty when a bunch of licensed professionals explain to you the ins and outs of licensing and contracts when you come onto this board asking questions about how to garner fee whilst avoiding or not bothering to be licensed. Just get licensed if you’re so clever and then you can utilize the AIA docs with amendments as desired for your situation. None of the verbiage in there will be relevant if you aren’t licensed though. That’s sort of the whole point of the license and the contracts going together. But hey you’re really ‘creative’ and apparently us lame architects of record haven’t got a creative bone in our bodies so maybe you can creatively craft a contract for yourself.
Nov 30, 19 6:01 pm
apx9101

So you do work with designers who submit design drawings to you. I'm sorry you've had a bad experience? What are those contracts like? That's been my question this entire time. This particular project is an office space for an 18 person start(ed) up. It's a graphic-app design company.

sameolddoctor

Wrong, archinine. There are several architects who will gladly be executive architects, which is yes, to essentially review and stamp drawings. Sorry your licensure isnt actually worth too much.

archinine
We don’t have contracts with the non licensed people supplying design intent drawings. Nor have I seen their contracts. The contracts between AOR and unlicensed designers are both directly with the client. Same way I wouldn’t see a clients contract with a contractor. It’s not in my business’ purview. I’m not describing a ‘bad experience’ in receiving unprepared drawings, I’m describing the experience of any typical AOR, and part of the reason said AOR is hired to begin with. Have you ever worked in a licensed firm? Have you ever prepared permit drawings under the guidance of a licensed professional? No offense but you sound kind of clueless/inexperienced. Get licensed. This will all make more sense once you do.
Dec 1, 19 6:23 pm
joseffischer

Point of Order, your standard CA responsibilities should include receiving and reviewing the O/C contract, reviewing just for coordination of dates, etc. One could go to the first OAC meeting and just assume the schedule and schedule of values and other documents were all made in accordance with the contracts... but I'd argue that wouldn't be best practice.

archinine
Rick as usual you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Dec 1, 19 8:58 pm
Bench

rick, just stop. I’m in the middle of my exams, studying contracts daily, and even I can tell much of what you’re saying is not accurate.

Dec 1, 19 9:24 pm
BulgarBlogger

Most residential projects on Park Avenue that are led by and interior designer exceed 10,000,000.

Non Sequitur

10K in NYC gets you what? A couple door knobs?

5839

Rick is fundamentally confusing statutes regarding pass-through of services, with rules regarding what services interior designers may provide.

There is no $ limit on projects that an unlicensed person can do, if they involve only interior design and not "construction materially related to the main structural building components or systems".

These are tasks that NYS explicitly states can be provided by an interior designer on any project, of any size:

  • layouts and planning of interior construction
  • furnishings and fixtures
  • cabinetry, lighting and finishes
  • schematic design and development
  • space planning
  • complete interior design specifications
  • working drawings
  • project monitoring and post-occupancy review
  • other aspects of interior construction not materially related to the main structural building components or systems

The OP hasn't described anything that doesn't fit into this list.


5839

As for the OP's original question: I would recommend ASID's commercial contracts.

The OP is (or hopes to be) “working with a certified interior design office”. I wasn’t aware that there was a level below that.

5839

Certification and registration of interior designers is voluntary in NY. A "certified interior designer" and an uncertified/unregistered interior designer are both allowed to work on interior design projects of any budget and size. The difference between "certified interior designer" and uncertified interior designer is that the latter is registered with the state by submitting minimum education and training documentation, so is allowed to call themselves certified.  It's supposed to help the public in selecting a well-qualified designer.

Rick's statement that "interior design is under the scope of architectural services in New York when the project exceeds $10K in NYC or $20K outside NYC" is incorrect. Interior design is not under the scope of architectural services in New York. The thing he keeps quoting is a dollar threshold that governs types of architectural corporations, and architects' involvement in pass-through services. It's not a limitation on what interior designers (certified or not) are allowed to do.

BulgarBlogger

"Interior design is not under the scope of architectural services in New York". Wrong:

BulgarBlogger

http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/arch/archguide-b2.htm While an architect may retain an interior designer as a consultant, or have an interior designer on staff, and pass on those services to the client, an interior designer or firm may not pass on architectural or engineering services to the client. There is nothing to prevent an interior design firm from having an architect on staff to participate or assist in the provision of interior design services, however, even if the architect has ownership in the interior design firm, the firm itself is still not authorized to provide architectural services.

5839

That has to do with pass-through services between architects and interior designers.  Interior designers can't practice architecture, but the practice of interior design is a separately defined profession in NY.  The tasks I posted above are directly pasted from the statutes governing the practice of interior design.

BulgarBlogger

Yeah, because they illegally get their drawings rubber stamped by a willing licensed architect.

5839

No, their drawings don't need to be stamped unless they contain structural modifications.

BulgarBlogger

Not if you're in NYC. Alterations require Licensed Architects or Engineers. Condo Boards often require it too.

Bloopox

It's been a few years since I worked in NYC, but my recollection is for most things you needed an RA who was registered with the DOB to file, but what they were signing was the application, not necessarily stamping interior designers' drawings. Interior designers did sets all the time that were filed as part of applications signed by RAs and PEs, but that didn't mean the licensed professional was stamping the drawings of the interior designer, they were just part of the filed application. The only drawings that needed to be stamped were those that affected life-safety, utilities, and structure. Has that changed?

BulgarBlogger

Bloopox: there are plenty of interior designers who "pass-on" architectural services. What I am saying is that regardless of who produces the permit set, yes- interior elevations and details are never filed at the DOB. However, interior designers often do the permit drawings and have them rubber stamped...

Formerlyunknown

Far be it from me to tell you when to shut up Rick, but I'll just note NY's fondness for the fines collected from unlicensed people practicing law on the internet.  The state Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that  "applying the law to an individual’s specific circumstances generally is the ‘practice of law." 

Dec 1, 19 10:41 pm
Formerlyunknown

I know. They told me that when I reported you.

curtkram

guys, if you try to correct him he just responds saying the same thing with more words.  I mean, they're getting long.

Dec 1, 19 11:07 pm
poop876

I just ignore him as obviously he has some issues!

kjdt

If you try to correct him he does respond with lots of words - but you can see in his post history that he tends to do that in just one or two threads at a time. When a thread gets Ricked it's unfortunate for that thread, but then people heroically take turns engaging with him in those one or two threads at a time for as long as they can, because it usually keeps him out of all the others. The best diverters can keep him going for days and sometimes even weeks at a time in just one or two threads, for the good of the whole forum.

citizen

^ Someone has to fall on a grenade occasionally so that others may live.

Non Sequitur

Shut-up.... don't tell him our secret.

kjdt

He seems pretty well occupied today in the one about TOEFL scores in GSAPP applications - things about which he's even less familiar than interior design regulations in New York.

Bench

Rick nuked his comments again?

Curious if he requested it or if it was decided from the green head?

Dec 2, 19 11:22 am
Bloopox

He probably got spooked when he got called out on illegal practice of law.

Non Sequitur

If that was the case, would we not see daily nuking of his posts?

Bloopox

People don't threaten to report him every day. Maybe they should start.

sameolddoctor
Bullshit on most people here taking a dump on the OP for not being licenced. We work on many large projects around the country as unlicensed architects (so yes, we can actually focus on the design).

Licensed architects are dime-a-dozen and there are many that work with us in capacity as executive architects to vet and stamp the drawings. If you are holding onto your licensure as the ONLY thing that makes you worth practicing, you must suck as a designer.
Dec 2, 19 11:22 am
Non Sequitur

There is a difference between experienced folks offering design services and non-experience folks offering design services. Given the nature of the OP's question, it was assumed that this fell in the latter category, hence the shitting. If I was a betting man, I would bet that the OP got the design gig via friends and family and is likely offering their work at a fraction of the cost of a licensed professional thinking someone else will just review and stamp.

This can work, but only when both parties know their roles.  Don't think this is the case here.  I've mentioned it here and several times before in the forum, we get tonnes of work from our client's tenants because they (the tenants) cheap out and hire other designers who in turn can't legally get them permit docs.  We always charge full fees when they come back unable to move forward with their work.

Anyways, perhaps something worth it's own discussion one day.

poop876

Even your office manager busy designing?

atelier nobody

"We work on many large projects around the country as unlicensed architects..."

You just committed a misdemeanor in almost every state you have ever designed a project in, and a felony in some.

citizen

What's this "tonne" BS?   ;o]

Non Sequitur

It's not BS, just means I'm better than you. Sorry

archi_dude

I think the "dumping on" is generally coming from that attitude that architects who know how to get things built are just licensed CAD monkeys. What they don't realize or have to deal with is the usual sizable effort that must be undertaken when a "designer" who never bothers with the constructability details pops out a "design package." Schedule delays and unforeseen costs are usually the impacts far outweighing the paltry few thousand "saved" on a commission fee. Seeing owners get sucked into this is confusing at best, frustrating for those taxed with fixing.
Anyone with access to some basic software can be a "designer." Getting things done efficiently is another matter.

sameolddoctor

"We work on many large projects around the country as unlicensed architects..." means that we have executive architects in all these states who do the difficult work on getting stuff built. Does not make what we do illegal.

What I am trying to say is that you are equating good design to licensure. This is just not true, unless of course "design" is just a line item in the services you provide.

b3tadine[sutures]

I've been an AOR and assisted a highly respected, young design firm, not only did they not know the first thing about code, contracts, or contract documents, they knew even less about what it takes to be an architect. That's the point. Good design, exists on the paper; build it, with all the fucking tools, not just the ones that get you in the fucking periodicals.

sameolddoctor

Not sure it is so black-and -white, Beta. For example, in our firm here, there are quite a few people with over 15-20 years of experience and have worked on built projects, but are not licensed. So yes, we do look at code, zoning etc but not to a level that is expected of Executive architects. On a more "starchitect" level, this happens all the time - the Broad Museum in DTLA was "designed" by DSR, but the executive architect is Gensler. Turned out pretty good, I think...

b3tadine[sutures]

Same, of course, but perhaps no one in DSR is licensed in CA, and they need an architect to execute their design, but we're not talking about that here. I couldn't even represent myself as an architect in CA. We seem to be discussing what are the requisite skills necessary to be a responsible semi-pro, and to not fully articulate all the particulars, or even have the basic skills to "design" a coherent contract. 7000 sf is a modest scale for an office, but no less challenging, so I'll wait for the publication of this very important project, by this very important design firm.

thisisnotmyname

There's a book you can buy for the type stuff the OP is seeking:

Business and Legal Forms for Interior Designers

https://www.barnesandnoble.com...

Dec 2, 19 12:50 pm
archinine
Archi_dude +++
“I think the "dumping on" is generally coming from that attitude that architects who know how to get things built are just licensed CAD monkeys. What they don't realize or have to deal with is the usual sizable effort that must be undertaken when a "designer" who never bothers with the constructability details pops out a "design package." Schedule delays and unforeseen costs are usually the impacts far outweighing the paltry few thousand "saved" on a commission fee. Seeing owners get sucked into this is confusing at best, frustrating for those taxed with fixing.
Anyone with access to some basic software can be a "designer." Getting things done efficiently is another matter.”

Exactly. I’ve spent countless hours cleaning up ‘design packages’ which could never be built much less permitted in the shape they were received. Hence we would never just ‘flip thru and stamp’. Significant changes must always be made to get the package to a buildable / permittable level. Designing something that looks good on paper is not the same as designing something that can be built and look good in real life. Turning your nose up at architects who have the ability to do both is just case in point to how little ‘designers’ understand about the full value and services of a licensed and seasoned professional.
Dec 3, 19 8:59 am

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