Contracting with Consultants: Part 1, Introduction
Single-discipline architectural firms are predominant in the United States. As such, these firms typically rely on outside consulting firms to provide all other necessary design, documentation, and construction observations services, plus any other specialty consultation, in coordination with the architect’s services, to deliver a fully developed project. By contrast, large multidisciplinary architectural/engineering firms are often one-stop shops, proposing services as a single entity. Some architectural firms offer related master planning, interior design, landscape architecture, or other such services; however, these firms do not offer a full spectrum of consulting services. Hence, a majority of firms craft teams of professionals to propose services and provide necessary expertise to complete building commissions.
Architecturally focused firms may directly contract with, or otherwise be required to coordinate with, a complete team comprising those other disciplines necessary for the project. The sum of fees associated with these “other” services can be as much as, or sometimes exceed those for, basic architectural services. Hence, smart architects pay close attention to the selection, retention, and management of these services. These articles by the AIA Risk Management Committee will provide initial guidance on the most essential topics for the architect’s consideration. These matters include, but are not limited to, the following, all of which are discussed at length in this short series. Click the links below, to learn more about these essential questions.
- Part 2: What types of engineering services, other specialty design services, or other non-design disciplines should be considered?
- Part 3: What are the appropriate selection processes for initial requests for proposal and subsequent award, including portfolio, capacity, and fee, all of which inform consultant selection criteria?
- Part 4: Whether subcontracted directly by the architect or retained by the owner, the obligations the architect has towards the consultants and the consultants to the architect, along with all nuances of project scope, are expressed in contracting principals.
- Part 5: Given the litigious nature of practice today, what types, limits, and certifications of contractually required insurance might be necessary?
- Part 6: Significant funds are expended by the client, on both professional fees and constructed value. Project processes deal with invoicing, certifications, and, when necessary, tools for non-performance.
- Part 7: Other aspects of architect-consultant relationships should not be dismissed, which include press, marketing, and project credit.
AIA has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors. The AIA’s Risk Management Program posts new materials and resources periodically.
Read our full seven-part series on Contracting with Consultants >