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


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...

Jul 29, 13 11:57 pm

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

Jul 30, 13 12:58 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 22, 13 11:52 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?
Aug 23, 13 8:54 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.

Nov 20, 13 11:14 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.  

Nov 20, 13 11:22 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 5:58 am

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

Aug 22, 14 9:46 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 11:58 am

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?

Aug 22, 14 1:54 pm

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

Feb 10, 15 2:12 pm

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

Feb 10, 15 2:35 pm
Non Sequitur

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

Feb 10, 15 2:37 pm

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

Feb 10, 15 2:39 pm
Saint in the City

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

Feb 10, 15 2:59 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. 

Feb 10, 15 3:18 pm
Non Sequitur

Ah, there he is.

Feb 10, 15 3:22 pm
null pointer <--- he became a hacker

Feb 10, 15 3:22 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 3:32 pm


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

Feb 10, 15 3:46 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 3:50 pm

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

Feb 10, 15 4:01 pm
Non Sequitur

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

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

Feb 10, 15 4:08 pm

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

Feb 11, 15 12:51 pm


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

Mar 14, 16 4:23 am

Pot calling the kettle black.

Mar 14, 16 4:43 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 13, 16 2:23 pm

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

May 27, 16 1:48 pm
pillar of the earth

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........

Sep 27, 16 2:30 pm


Got a question.  What does having a seal/stamp prevent?  And don't bash me I'm trying to simply understand.

I've met and worked with 2 licensed architects who were sued in the past.  Both Very experienced, both very detail oriented and both well thought of in their respective regions.  But they both lost their respective suits and were ordered to pay substantial sums. 

Another situation that I am aware of is when an accident occurred at West Virginia University back in 2004/2005 where a maintenance worker died after falling thru a fire door on a roof.

In those 3 suits, the seal/stamp did not protect the public's health, safety and welfare. 

Further, the one architect I worked with over a 3 year period was a forensic architect who did 30 to 50 cases a year where he was the professional witness who would do reports for cases where there were injuries that were at the result of improper design.

Over a 3 year period, I was aware of nearly 100 law suits that were based on injuries that were do in large part where there was a design flaw that the licensed architect missed.

It seems to me that having a seal/stamp and being an architect is really only as good as the building plan review and the building inspectors who review the drawings for codes and final construction.

Consider - Members of the American Institute of Building Designers ( AIBD ) are permitted in many instances, to design buildings considered to be Light Frame Construction for both Residential AND Commercial.  Yet they are not technically "licensed" not having taken the same rigorous ARE. 

Also consider that many projects are "engineered" by engineers who are not PE's.

Lastly, to argue that architects, those people who have passed the ARE, are the only people capable of doing "true" design or "good" design is simply not true.  Architectural design is still largely an art form.  The design of the building is largely controlled by the client.  The architect is more often than not the facilitator who uses consultants to do the engineering.  And here in PA, architects are NOT required by law to be the construction managers.  I'm fairly sure that runs thru most states. 

Again, not looking for bashing but do welcome constructive criticism.     

Nov 18, 16 12:22 pm
Non Sequitur

Building designer?

Please.... come back when you have a clue. Sure, there are careless or lazy architects with stamps and everyone makes errors, but the vast majority of projects do not have problems like you list.

Nov 18, 16 12:31 pm

Somè_Onè: Rick B sock puppet.

Nov 18, 16 12:33 pm

Somè_Onè - Forensic architects would have been a legitimate job if it wasn't for the ARE ;)

Nov 18, 16 12:47 pm
pillar of the earth

What do 

Tadao Ando

Mies van der Rohe

Louis Sullivan

Eileen Gray

Buckminster Fuller

Le Corbusier


Frank Lloyd Wright

have in common?

So by your criteria they are incapable of designing a building. We don't need to get into the pyramids, great cathedral and mosques or even Thomas Jefferson for that matter. I'll just let history speak for itself. 

Nov 18, 16 12:52 pm

They are all geniuses.

What is your point?

Nov 18, 16 1:04 pm

A very impressive list no doubt, what are you proposing as an alternative?

I assume you want just anyone to be able to "design" a building?  Most people are barely capable of designing a stick frame house that doesn't look like crap, let alone anything more complicated.  

If you are arguing that more people should be allowed to sit for the exams than I might agree, but to argue (if that is where you are going) that the exams/license is not needed is ridiculous. 

Nov 18, 16 1:04 pm
pillar of the earth

None on the list completed a formal education and the ARE wasn't around.........

I am not saying to abandon common sense. I am saying one can (and we have) over complicated everything. The Titanic was built by experts.

Where is the common sense (and please remember this post started long ago asking how much to pay a licensed architect to stamp drawings) in not permitting an architect to act as a consultant? In many cases one can design a structure hire an engineer to consult and stamp drawings and that is fine. I am not arguing with a level of professional standard. I do argue with restrictions on how that standard is applied.

Nov 18, 16 1:28 pm
Non Sequitur

Pillar... looks like you can one helluva straw-man argument.



So, if anyone without a license designs a building, they automatically get grouped with legitimate geniuses? Please... try and keep up.

Nov 18, 16 1:28 pm

"Somè_Onè: Rick B sock puppet."

Not quite, the reference to PA is the give away. "And here in PA, architects are NOT required by law to be the construction managers." Rick wouldn't care about PA, it is nowhere near OR.

My assumption is that Somè_Onè is Will May's sock puppet. He was going off on similar tangent on an otherwise very good feature on Tadao Ando last year (resurrected the feature to do it, similar to what he did in this thread). He has since changed his account to be Some One.

Nov 18, 16 1:39 pm
Non Sequitur

That May website is god-awful.

Nov 18, 16 1:45 pm

Good lord.


How much of the clusterfuckery in Cranberry Twp is his, I wonder?

Nov 18, 16 2:23 pm

Is there an unwritten rule that all building designers have to have their picture taken while holding a writing instrument? Sort of like all architects have to wear black ... and interns have to drink massive amounts of coffee.

Nov 18, 16 2:47 pm
Non Sequitur

^I drink massives amount of coffee but wear only dark grey.

I'm unique.

Nov 18, 16 2:49 pm

The pen in hand pic says...."hey, I was just about to do something important and this pic is totally spontaneous".  

Nov 18, 16 2:54 pm

Well, now that you mention it ... I think we might be able to redesign the entire project before submitting for permit next week.

Nov 18, 16 4:16 pm

I was just on my way out to the jobsite to sketch some details for the contractor, but I'll get right on it when I get back!

Nov 18, 16 4:17 pm

Sorry, you caught me right while I was jotting down some ideas for reorganizing the binder library

Nov 18, 16 4:19 pm

Ha ha, there is no way I'm answering that RFI today.

Nov 18, 16 4:21 pm

They want us to move the entrance where?

Nov 18, 16 4:23 pm

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