5 Things you should check in your building contract with your architect, Building Design Tips, Online Advice

Check your Building Contract Guide

10 Nov 2021

Things You Should Check in Your Building Contract

Building contracts with an architect can be confusing at the best of times, but it’s vitally important that you understand as many details as possible before you decide to put pen to paper!

Whenever you instruct a third party to carry out works on your home, you’ll likely be asked to review and sign an official contract. While this is usually part of the course, this contract is incredibly important, as it sets up the legalities of your relationship with the person, or group, who are completing the work.

This means if there is anything unusual in the contract or something that you think may lead to a dispute further down the line, you can point it out before the ink has dried. Unfortunately, if you leave it too late to back out, you won’t be able to file for breach of contract law.

This certainly rings true when you’re entering a building contract with an architect, which is why we’ve put together this guide which you can refer to if you’re looking for work to be carried out on your home.

Check your Building Contract with your Architect

Be sure to read on below to find out more…

5 Things to Watch Out for in an Architect’s Building Contract

Exactly What Work They Will Charge For

This may seem like a very obvious point to start, but it’s important to be aware of exactly what work your architect will charge for. As you might expect, building contracts can often be a confusing mess of technical jargon and various figures, but there should be a clear indication of exactly what work the architect will complete and for how much.

The last thing you’ll want is for your architect to unexpectedly demand more money to complete the work listed in the building contract. Particularly if they’re within their rights to do so, according to the terms set out in your contract!

If, after combing through the building contract, you’re still none the wiser as to what work your architect will charge for, it’s worth speaking to an independent third party, such as a solicitor who specialises in contract law, who can take a look and see whether there are any issues which need to be resolved.

Whether There Are Any Break Clauses (For Both Parties)

A break clause sets out the grounds upon which a contract can be brought to an immediate end. They may also be referred to as a termination or exit clause. A break clause can bring a contract to an end for specified reasons, such as:

  • A breach of contract
  • One party becoming insolvent or bankrupt
  • A force majeure event clause

You may quickly find that, for whatever reason, your building contract with your architect isn’t going to work out. That might be because you and your architect are simply at odds with one another, or you aren’t satisfied with the work they have already completed.

If there is a break clause in the building contract, you can use this to your advantage, allowing you to escape the terms of your contract without suffering a financial penalty.

On the flip side, you should also be aware of any break clauses your architect might exploit themselves. The last thing you want is for an architect to spring a break clause while work is still underway, leaving you in a sticky situation.

Check your Building Contract with your Architect

The Type of Contract Being Used

It’s important to note that there are various forms of building contracts, all of which are appropriate for different types of work. As you might expect, a building contract for domestic work needs to be distinct from a building contract for commercial work.

When you have planning approval for work, your architect will recommend an appropriate form of building contract and begin to prepare drawings based on this. If you aren’t sure whether the contract you have been provided is suitable, you can check this on the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) website.

RIBA publishes various contracts which are suitable for both domestic and commercial projects and you can use this as a guide if you aren’t sure whether your building contract is suitable.

Whether You or the Architect Is the Contract Administrator

The responsibility of administering a building contract lies with the contract administrator. Unless someone is specifically appointed into this role, this will be your responsibility – so it’s certainly worth double-checking the terms of your contract!

If the building contract appoints an architect as a contract administrator, this can provide quality control over the build. They can carry out regular inspections, deal with queries, instruct additional work, and monitor on-site progress.

So, if you’re listed as a contract administrator in your building contract, and you think that it would be more beneficial to have your architect listed instead, this is something you can negotiate before you sign your contract.

The Inclusion of Health and Safety Obligations

A building contract should always include detailed information on both party’s health and safety obligations. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the regulations for managing the health, safety, and welfare of construction projects. These regulations apply to both domestic and commercial clients.

The guidelines make sure that the client makes suitable arrangements for a project and that the architect is also aware of their obligations, reducing the potential for an otherwise avoidable accident from taking place.

Check your Building Contract with your Architect

Are You Ready to Enter into a Contract with an Architect?

In this post, we’ve covered 5 essential things you need to keep an eye out for if you’re entering a building contract with an architect. Of course, this list is far from exhaustive, and you need to make sure that you pay close attention to every detail – no stone should be left unturned!

Are you in the process of signing a building contract with an architect? Or have you been involved in a contract in the past? If so, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on the law. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

Photo credits:

Photo 1 – Cytonn Photography via Unsplash

Photo 2 – Amy Hirschi via Unsplash

Photo 3 – Daniel McCullough via Unsplash

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