Owner/Architect Agreement Checklist

By: Jim Zahn, Of Counsel

Any Agreement between an architect and owner should specifically define their basic services, duties and obligations to each other. If additional services are required, they may be performed if the owner agreed in advance and charged extra fees. The following issues should be included in all professional service agreements to better define expectations and eliminate vagueness.

AGREEMENT: Date the Agreement and clearly identity all parties. List all parties with legal names, addresses, cell phone numbers and email addresses.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Clearly define the project scope to be designed by the architect for the specific project site identified.

MISCELLANEOUS: Specify miscellaneous items unique to the project.

BASIC SERVICES: The Architect’s basic services should detail each phase of work they will perform. Basic services could include schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding and construction administration services. Any services beyond this would be performed for additional fees.

COMPENSATION: The Architect’s fee(s) should be clearly defined (eg: hourly rates, fixed lump sum, project construction percentage cost.) State if an initial payment is required when executing the Agreement. Address reimbursable expenses. Define how the architect will charge for additional services which may be required.

PAYMENT DUE DATES: List payment due dates. Specify interest charges for late payments.

CONSULTANTS: Identify which consultants the Architect will retain and which the Owner will retain. The Owner should normally engage a surveyor and a geotechnical engineer.

JOBSITE SAFETY: Specify that the contractor is solely responsible for construction means, methods, safety precautions and procedures.

COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP: Specify copyright ownership and licensing issues. The Architect normally retains common law, statutory and other reserved rights (including copyrights.)

DISPUTE RESOLUTION: Specify techniques for dispute resolution, including mediation, arbitration or litigation.

VENUE: State the venue for dispute arbitration or litigation.

OWNER PROVIDED INFORMATION: State that the Architect may rely solely on the completeness and accuracy of any information provided by the Owner.

PERMITS AND APPROVALS: It is the owner’s responsibility to obtain project permits and approvals. The Architect shall assist when and as reasonably requested.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: The Statute of Limitations usually starts on the date of substantial project completion.

TERMINATION: Specify how parties may terminate the Agreement.

EXECUTION: The Agreement should be executed on behalf of the indicated individual or corporate entity.


Chicago, Illinois 312-377-1501 | Schererville, Indiana 219-488-2590

Chicago, Illinois


Schererville, Indiana