Starting an Architectural Firm

Whether you are an Architect or not as long as you have interest in Architecture, you could easily create an Architectural Firm Business. This simple guide will help you figure out how to start your own Architectural Firm.

Architectural Firm Business covers a large scale because Architects have a variety of qualifications. Your firm can do projects in both structural and aesthetics.

Your Architectural Firm Business can make more money by accepting projects in several Architectural fields like landscaping, structural designs, and residential and commercial building designs. Large projects may also include sports facilities, arena, sport complex, malls, and many specialized and larger structures.

What exactly an Architectural Firm can do?

As a short overview, your Architectural Business Firm might be able to do drafting designs, modeling, creating scale models, and wide array of landscape designs. If you wanted to be more specific, you may also start offering services that covers your field of specialization. For instance, if you are good in drafting, you may accept just drafting jobs in the first as start-up projects. The possibilities to bigger opportunity are endless if you have the right talent and skills, and trusted people to work with you side by side.

How to start your Architectural Firm Business.

As mentioned above, you can start whether you are an Architect or not but bigger credits are always given to those who have areas of specialization. If you have knowledge and enough experience in doing the jobs your business is about to offer, better start your business today or else you may lost a bigger opportunity in the future.

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Every business starts of course with Business Permit. Secure one from your local Internal Revenue Office and select a good place to house your operation. Good Architectural Firm locations are always near to big construction company or any civil Engineering or Construction Firms. I am not saying that you are going to compete with them. Their customers might notice your business in anytime.

Advertising and promotion of your business is the next thing to do. A business card is highly suggested in this type of business. Maintain a close contact with your former colleagues and inform them that you are opening your own Architectural Firm Business.

Because this business offers service and there are no raw materials or resources that require higher capital, you can always offer a better and lower price while you are starting your business. This helps a lot in building customer and gaining clients’ trust.

For the needed capital, Architectural Firm Business needs equipment like computers, design software, printing equipment, and some brands of drafting papers. If you have a tight budget for these equipment and materials, you may find some surplus but useful Architectural Equipment and Peripherals at ebay.

You must also have a lot of resources like magazines, photos, or even presentations of unique Architectural Designs to show to some prospects. A good and cheap website is a must for you are not going to offer your service just in your country or province. Internet can bring you a lot of customers.

This business will be a great source of permanent income if you are doing it right.

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  • Elle said on June 21, 2008
    This information is incorrect. Architecture is a highly specialized field, and you must have an architecture license to practice architecture. It takes several years to accomplish this, including attending college and finishing a three years internship.
  • tylee said on July 18, 2008
    That is not true, Elle; you don't have to have an architecture license to practice architecture. You can be a designer and practice architecture; you're limited to what an architect can do. Anyone can design as long as they know the by-laws and building codes and have experience in design. You can be successful!
  • RW said on July 28, 2008
    Ellen correctly states that an architectural license is required to practice architecture. The law of individual states defines the practice of architecture that almost all need education from an accredited school, professional internship, and passing the nine required exams. Anything short of that is just designed, and it is, in fact, unlawful to use the term "architect" or variations thereof if one does not hold the credentials and license. Architecture, like law and medicine, is a "profession".
  • sam said on July 29, 2008
    That is not true, Tylee. There is a difference between practicing the profession and doing what you want based on experience. You can be successful in both, but only one allows you to do it legally.
  • Arch said on August 2, 2008
    You can not use the word architecture or architect if you are not a licensed professional. Please visit and
  • Roy said on December 31, 2008
    Each state has different rules regarding "design" and "architecture". In all cases, however, you are correct. You can not use the word "Architect, Architecture" if you are, in fact, not registered. I think the article was titled "How to start your own "Architectural" firm". So the writing is incorrect in that "anyone" can start a firm. Actually, there is nothing relevant, accurate, or of any value in this post. Everyone would be doing it if it were as easy as getting a business card and a business license. Some buildings look like they have been designed without Architects' input. I am registered, and it is not that easy!
  • Paul said on January 27, 2009
    I am not an architect, but I am a businessman with many connections in construction and design. I can start an architectural firm and hire a licensed architect, make him an officer of my corporation, bring clients to my firm, and start an architectural business. I don't think it's wrong. It is a perfectly legal and professional firm.
  • George said on February 24, 2009
    I don't know if I'm an architect but I can stuff a #9 with a #7 at Burger King without the need for a license.
  • Benjamin Nguyen said on March 15, 2009
    do you have a business plan in opening an architect firm that describe the start-up costs to 3-5 years financial projection? I'll love to see that. Kind Regards, Benjamin HN.
  • ANDREW HAMILTON said on March 19, 2009
    I am an Architectural/Engineer Designer who is in the process of starting my own designing firm. I am trying to get some insight on what is the correct and legal way in getting my firm started.
  • Andrew said on April 6, 2009
    I think the article is misleading. After reading it and the comments, there are valid points. I am a licensed architect and has my own practice. It is true that everyone can attempt to design and some unlicensed "architect" have great ideas and skills. However, without a licensed, the designer cannot use the term "architect" legally and cannot stamp or certify any project. Without the stamp, most state inspectional services, building departments, zoning boards, or historical agencies would not grant a permit/approval for construction. I agree with Elle that architecture is a highly specialized field. Just because I can do my tax return, I would not claim myself as a CPA or start offering tax advices. I advise reader who are interested in this to visit the AIA and NCARB website to learn more about the field of architecture as ARCH has suggested. Who wrote this article?

    On the otherhand, the article could be correct in some sense as well. I have worked for a good architectural firm and the startup principal was not an architect. He was a businessman who control the business aspect of the practice while the staff architects take care of the design and the technical aspects of projects. A couple of licensed architects are principals and they stamp the drawings. So, you don't need to be an architect to run an architectural firm but you do need to be an architect to practice architecture (not just design).
  • Ced Chambers said on June 10, 2009
    I am an Architectural/Engineer Designer who is in the process of starting my own designing firm. I am trying to get legal insight on starting a drafting firm.
  • KB said on June 16, 2009
    I am also a licensed architect. I cannot believe how much bad advice is being offered in this article. The author of this is clearly unaware about what the architectural profession entails and certainly should not be misleading people on beginning a practice.

    If one would like to get the facts contact the American Institue of Architects (AIA)in the U.S. or any provincial architectural association in Canada. Personally, I would not get start-up advice on a self governed and specialized profession such as is the practice of architecture from a website.

    In response to another comment I read from Andrew regarding practices where the owners are not licensed professionals, I would caution that, at least in Ontario, I have heard that a licensed architect must have at least a controlling interest in the firm. This makes sense since the architect assumes the professional risk and liability.
  • dheeraj singh said on August 4, 2009
    license is must to start architectural profession but in India all start the profession with interiors and then architecture, thus any one can start the interior office any time if wanted to do so.
  • joel sims said on August 20, 2009
    Well, lets focus on the word "Easy". it is not easy to start an architectural firm. It is easier to start it if you are a licensed architect and more difficult if you are not. If you are not, you will need to team with a licensed architect or call yourself a "designer" and focus on interiors or (in some states) residential. I started an architectural firm 6 years ago and it has been great.... but not easy. You need professional liability insurance, cad software, a plotter, clients ... and the list goes on. joel at schooldesigner dot com
  • california_architect said on August 23, 2009
    Remember, you MAY NOT call yourself an architect (or "architectural designer" or any other clever derivative) unless you are licensed by the state you are in to practice architecture. States and NCARB pursue these matters aggressively and there are severe fines (and worse) when, not if, you get caught.
  • Tad said on September 14, 2009
    this article has a few good points and is misleading, I am an architectural designer with a degree and 6 years experience in the field. I am starting my own design firm AND I AM NOT AN ARCHITECT. I do not agree with Andrew as of the part where if you are not an architect you will not be able to pull permits and so forth, for i have quite a few projects the have been completed without an architectural stamp. As long as you have a very extensive knowledge in construction methods and are on the up and up with your code research you will be ok. Now as for needing an architectural stamp you will need one if a building is over a certain amount of S.F. if it is under you will not need a stamp but you might need an engineer to look over your calls. I agree it is better to be an architect if you are looking to build or design huge structures, but if you are like me and you are interested in residential and tenant finish a designer is all that is needed and some people prefer it for i don't come with the added cost as do architects do.
  • Tash said on October 5, 2009
    What if you were to open up your own design drafting company. You definitely do not need to have an architectural license for that. I have a degree of architecture, did a 2 year internship and I have worked in the field for almost 6 years. I have amazing knowledge in construction and structural design and even though I am technically not an Architect, most of the work I have done in the companies that I've worked for were equal to the responsibilities of a licensed Architect. With that said, I was able to work my way up to a Project Manager position as well. Now I am at a point where I would like to open up my own business, however, even though I am not a Licensed Architect, I am an Architectural and Industrial Designer. I don't call myself an Architect because I do not have a license. I believe I can utilize my skills as a designer to open up my own business. Please let me know what you think. I could use some advice on how I can go about this.
  • Felipe said on October 9, 2009
    Can we get pass the legal part. I want to hear about how others have started to grow a firm. I am trying now. I have a license in ca.. I go to many networking events, some trade events, meet many people in the trade and even more outside the trade but so far (1 year) it has yielded near nothing. The economy is poor and is a major reason for that. But i will not accept that it not possible to do better. Others out there, many reading this have done it and i am interested as to how. Just so i can provide direction- i have many years of restaurant, market and retail experience but the contacts i had have moved on.
  • california_architect said on October 11, 2009
    Tash, please let us know where you work so that we can see if "Architectural and Industrial Designer" passes the legal test. Why is it so hard for people to understand that if you do not have a state license to practice architecture, you may not use the letters "architect" in your job title. Yes, large firms usually have one insured principal that signs the plans, but no matter how high you rise at the firm, and no matter how much experience you gain, you will not be an Architect. Call yourself something else and good luck to you. Just don't pretend to be an Architect. Or take the tests already. This, Felipe, is what makes it so difficult for architects to get a foothold in an industry that does not respect the professional title of "Architect."
  • Eric said on October 15, 2009
    Architect w/license & 13 yr experience. Considering opening my own firm. Could anyone owning their own firm offer insight with regards to liability insurance? Thanks in advance
  • metalmulitia said on October 17, 2009
    I will say one thing. I've seen far more progressive designs coming from non-ARCHITECTS than I do licensed architects. Eff the legalities and look at the end product. legalism sucks, but if a design is good and it passes the threshold from simply existing as a building to living and breathing as architecture, then the person who designed it is an ARCHITECT despite what the arbitrary orgainizations such as NCARB and AIA suggest. Every one of their bureaucratic rules are based on an arbitrary council system with means of making money and those of you who like those organizations should spend more time studying theory and constructivism then wasting time worrying about their pathetic hangups.

    After I completed those lame ass exams which were also such a joke, I obtained my license,(which is only needed for commercial work permits) and I only pay those bastards to keep it renewed. Def not giving them my time or money for any lame AIA membership or any of that bs. 90 percent of licensed architects will never produce a single piece of architecture in their careers. Produce buildings? -yes Architecture? - seldom

    Everyone should stop worrying about legalities and just produce amazing design, whether you are an ARCHITECT or not. Hell, call me whatever title you want, as long as I'm producing strong design, i'll be fine to be known as the kid in the basement. I'd rather be forgotten then remembered for giving in. eff the system... and start designing.
  • california_architect said on October 27, 2009
    @metalmulitia, I agree that a lot of junk gets designed by architects. A lot of junk gets built without an architect at all and architects still take the blame. It's not fair. I agree that great design is its own reward and that overall, people should expect more of their built environment. But that's not going to happen until architects, lame as they may be, stake out a professional territory that respects itself. Part of that is respecting the term "architect." Part of it is embracing good design, no matter where it comes from, because somewhere along the line, people will come to see Architects (big A) as professionals and as part of a life that is more functional, convenient, beautiful - whatever you'd like. You don't see paralegals pretending to be lawyers; you don't see paramedics pretending to be doctors; but you do see scores of contractors, interior designers, decorators, stylists, hairdressers, whomever - calling themselves architects. It degrades the brand, you know? And no one wins. And no one need go through the pain of becoming an architect and all the headache of starting a business as one when no one cares about the value the profession brings to the table, including architects themselves.
  • Architect_major said on October 30, 2009
    I am a freshman in college and I am majoring in Architecture. I want to do residential drafting and after the research I have done I know that in order to be an Architect I need a masters degree but after all these comments I am a little confused about if I actually need to spend eight years in college to get my masters or not. Does anyone have any advice they can share?
  • california_architect said on November 2, 2009
    Architect_major: You don't need a Master's degree in Architecture to become an Architect. At least in California - you actually don't need to go to school at all. Basically, you will have to work for a licensed architect for eight years to get your training - then you are eligible to take your licensing exams. Formal academic training (general undergraduate degrees, undergraduate architecture degrees, and Master's degrees in Architecture) cuts time off that "apprenticeship" period. I'd suspect that other states have similar rules.
  • Architect_major said on November 8, 2009
    Thank you for the info. I live in Texas and I'm not sure if it's the same but it most likely is similar. Right now I am working getting an associates degree concentrated on drafting.
  • juan dela cruz said on November 10, 2009
    you can start a architectural firm even you are not an a architect, just hire a license architect and designer to do a job and you be the manager.
  • Gin said on December 1, 2009
    I am an "Intern Architect" working on my NCARB credits to take the rest of the test 4 my license

    In New Mexico, anyone can design a residential building under 2 storey without a license (no commercial)

    You can start a firm w/o a license and hire Architects....Duh

    Repeat clients, networking and kicking ass on the bid process get you in biz. We all know each other in this small market in NM; poach a couple of good folks from bigger firms, try focusing on employees and the bottom line, not exactly haute couture architecture, but I've seen it work... Good employees can bring a client or 2 with them often, use that, hire a branding agency to promo ur biz, work hard & remember 'dont blame the game, blame the player!' - peace
  • In the field said on December 2, 2009
    Hey California_architect, get off your high horse and freakin worry about your own issues! It sounds to me that you are to busy worrying about what everyone else is doing/saying, that you couldn't find the time to design anything if the world came to an end! You claim to be such a superior being than everyone else, yet you state yourself that you have a measly 2 year undergraduate degree and some experience in the field. I am so sick of you cake eating pre-Madonna’s flapping your gums about what everyone else is saying, that after 29 years in the field myself with over 200 projects completed, I wouldn't take the darn exams just to sit and snoop my nose up at everyone who is out there working their asses off trying to make a living and not worrying what everyone else is calling them selves. Get a clue, clients are wising up to the fact that they do not need to pay an “Architect” 10-20% of construction costs, when they can find a suitable designer for considerably less money. Credentials alone do not design, it takes the mind and experience of the individual!!!
  • Swifty said on December 10, 2009
    Am a graduate of Architecture "not an architect". I started designing excellent affordable residential homes since before i had my Bsc (Hons) while working with a professional Architect who ended up claiming my designs with his stamps on it, cos he really didn't have the natural design flair. After some experience and working with a large construction firm, i got a Msc in construction project management and am about to start my building design/construction firm. Focusing on sweet residential designs. Having the technical background I discovered i can do a lot better and command more patronage by simply calling myself a building designer while stating my academic qualifications on my card and displaying a portfolio of my excellent built works in my office. Its not what u claim to be, but what u can really do.
  • california_architect said on December 11, 2009
    hi In the field - I agree that builders and building designers can do great work. I agree that not everyone NEEDS an architect. I even think that juan dela cruz's idea is pretty clever, if you want to do non-residential stuff. But doing the work and calling yourself an architect are not equivalent. And stealing the credit for someone else's good work, Swifty, is unprofessional even if it has become typical. I don't think I said I had a two-year degree, though. I put many years into education; undergraduate and graduate degrees and for some clients, given a good portfolio and a track record of coming in on-time and on-budget, that counts for a lot. Swifty is right, it's really all about what you can do.
  • Stephen Mesich said on January 16, 2010
    Check your state licensure rules and regulations regarding architecture firms ownership regulations. Usually st least 66 1/3the % of the firm must be owned by licensed design professionals. This prevents someone like Paul owning an architectural firm.
  • Terry said on January 29, 2010
    Does anyone know the laws on using the term "Architectural designer" in the state of Wisconsin? Do you have to be a license architect if you have a engineer working for you to look over all your work and stamp all of your work?
  • Carrol A. said on January 30, 2010
    Could mean a fine and prison, according to statutes, to use the word "architect" represented anywhere in one's title, if not a licensed architect or landscape architect, etc. Statute 443.18(1)(a). In Wisconsin the term "designer" is also protected.
  • Tom Cohen said on February 8, 2010
    i've been a "designer" for years. i have found that this is limiting. it's better to be licensed for when the big opportunity comes around you can say, yes I am an architect, not a designer. i am tired of telling people who introduce me as an architect, not to. or when i explain to people i am a designer not an architect there is deflation of excitement. ANYWAY.... can anyone tell me what else one can do with their state license in the building field. i.e building inspector, etc.
  • tstone said on February 15, 2010
    imo it is important to get educated but education isn't everything, lets not loose focus, frank lloyd wright is considered an "ARCHITECT" and he never had a lic, so was mies and he never went to school, infact both of these guys are considered masters of modern architecture, and people with degrees and lic's copy these guys all the time!!! do wuts right but do wut makes you happy and you!!
  • Raul said on February 16, 2010
    I have a degree in architecture from a foreign country. I've been in architectural business for more than 25 years. I started doing drafting services. (working drawings and renderings) My clients were architects, contractors and small real estate developers. As I learned more, I expanded my services, which include entitlements, construction administration, code consultant. Now I'm doing my own shows, I'm a small time real estate developer (custom residential) I am not a licensed architect. MARKETING is the key to this business.
  • Luke Clayden said on February 24, 2010
    What about a qualified Interior architects, Can they call themselves Interior Architects with the below qualification BA(hons) Interior Architecture. Obtained in the united kingdom following various design related courses at A level followed by a FOUR year course at university in Interior Architecture? Surely this is acceptable. Please reply with responses, regard, Luke clayden
  • rebar said on February 26, 2010
    "Architect" is also a protected professional term in Britain. Check out the ARB's website for more info including qualification standards. The EU may be different.
  • joel sims said on March 9, 2010
    What are the most important questions to you have regarding starting your own firm? I may be writing an article on the the subject so email me joel at schooldesigner dot com. I will also be glad to answer questions you have - as time permits.
  • gcpandey said on March 16, 2010
    I am graduate civil engineer from N.I.T Allahabad, & I am having +20 yrs experience of construction field, now i want to start my own company along with civil engineers at Haldwani uttarakhand state INDIA. please advise. I am having only Rs 2 lacs in my pocket for investment.
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Only Licensed Architects can own, operate or be partners of an Architectural firm - - ALL states and including the European union strictly prohibits otherwise - regardless of experience or field.

    It would be like not being a lawyer and owning and operating a Law Firm - - i would stay clear of people selling legal services without actually being licensed.

    Raul and others here are skirting the law and will be only a matter of time before it catches up with them - usually in the form of someone getting hurt and the resulting lawsuits and criminal charges.

    The use of the word Architect and Architectural is strictly for Licensed Architects.

    Fancy terms like Building Designer will also catch up with you as people will only report you to the state and they will send the state police for you - it's only a matter of time and one disgruntled client who figures he doesn't have to pay you if he reports you.

    there was a man here in NYC that just was jailed for 8 years by practicing Architecture and engineering with a made-up a result all plans examiners and inspectors check credentials of all professionals via State Websites.

    Interior Architects - NO - but Interior Designer - yes - - as anyone can call themselves an Interior Designer - - although you are restricted to only finishes, furniture and items not requiring a building permit.... although i have seen some interior designers try to cover up fire alarm devices and have had their work removed to alleviate the code violation before the client got a fine and court summons...
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Stealing credit for work or even designs and the technical specifications is protected under US Copyright law and is punishable up to $250,000 per offense and loss of license - - like a lawyer being disbarred.

    I had a client who thought he could not pay me and build my designs after the drawings were done. Had another Architect copy my designs - to which i just responded with a lawyer. He got the first story up before permit being permanently removed by court order on my quick actions. it's been 2 years and the house frame is just sitting there. The Architect's privileges of professionally certifying ANY project within NYC has been permanently revoked......
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    GIN - - you can design the house BUT - the State Education Law as well as various other laws ALL state that you need an Architect to professionally sign off on the project - - this is the same as CT. Please don't get sucked into that lie - it is mis-leading and only leads to people getting hurt from their own stupidity.
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    TYLEE - - you are absolutely WRONG!!! you are not qualified to do so including if you work for someone who is - YOU still are not qualified - only your boss is at that point....
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    This article may be B.S. - however it does more harm than any good - - our input here is the only good - well - only for those who actually are licensed Architects like myself...
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Benjamin - - the only business plan you need to start up an Architectural Firm is TALENT and a LICENSE. the rest is all convincing people to hire you until you establish word of mouth and shit loads of hard work and stress..... business plans are horse shit for Architects - one day stocks are up and your phones are ringing - next day there's a crash and your clients disappear like the cock roaches in your house Benjamin when you turn the lights on...
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Andrew - Start with the State Education Dept. in charge of licensing then talk to the State Department in your state - - it's easy to get the business name and to get going officially - - it's a bitch and a half to get the clients though - especially in this economy with a lot of competition.
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Stephen - only Architects can own a firm or be partners of a firm ....
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Ced - - drafting service firms are abundant - just start amassing the work and then start hiring people to do it - as you will be working directly with Architectural firms who are in dire need of drafting help - it is their license and liability not yours - - however be careful of the "designer" word trap....
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Tad - you are certainly wrong when it comes to the definition of your projects not needing an Architect or Engineer stamp = = = ALL states require one of the 2....
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    metalmulitia - you are very naive - - most buildings in the US are designed by engineers that are licensed and are tons cheaper than Architects - this includes commercial and residential alike.... also - - - in order to do the cutting edge stuff you preach about - you first have to get the clients with the deep enough pockets to let you play...although lofty are your thoughts - go back to philosophy, let your registration lapse and get out of my way so i can make some money damn it.
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Architect_major - - you need at the minimum a 5 year prof. bachelors degree and 3 years of apprenticeship before being eligible to sit for the exams. oh yeah - also a lot of perseverance in the work environs, life and keeping your head screwed on straight and staying focused - - and that's all of the fun stuff.....good luck to you.
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    Swifty - unfortunately having a licensed professional "rubber stamp" your drawings is illegal and will only be a matter of time before you get caught.
  • zschweter said on March 23, 2010
    I strongly urge all licensed Architects here to report any of the above "violators" to their State NCARB, State Education Dept., Attorney general and State Dept. of the state - - as they all represent a clear and present danger to the public.
  • Stock said on March 31, 2010
    NJ. Architects and Landscape Architects are traditionally poor business people. They go to school for 4/5 years for design, because to them design and controlling the environment around them is more important than money. Not that there is nothing wrong with that, but they come out into a business world and spend the next 5 years trying to catch up, some never do. We call them worker bees…for life. Many architects/designers are great designers, and that’s about it, but I wouldn’t let them sell lemonade on a hot day in July.

    As a businessman, you just need to hire the right licensed architect/PE and promote and develop the brand, just as you would with any business. Focus on your customers and the type of product you want to offer. Form a team or peers, architects, engineers, designers and go after the work. Of course this is all marco.

    If you look at many of the larger engineering and architecture firms, 90% all are headed by a CEO with only an MBA, maybe PE/MBA. There is a reason for this.
  • california_architect said on April 27, 2010
    Well said, zschweter.
  • Daniel said on April 27, 2010
    You all sound like little babies !! Firstly what do architects know?? They put sheets of dwgs together after engineers others do the hard work. They really need to separate architect from designers because what architect do is simply manage a dwgs prepare them to submit they do very little design work infact. design work takes a person to soley do design that person should be called designer not architect. ****Frank Loyd Wright once said he's not an architect hes a designer, ****the architect school in Hardvard is called the school of design. email me we can over throw architects and keep them as managers we can be the main designer of project. Anyway, its really who you know, what you can do, and how you can get paid for it. You hire an architect because you have to not because you want to. really engineers should play the architect role because architect can't do swat without them. LOL
  • gez said on May 6, 2010
    All True. I was a building designer before I studied 6 years to become an architect. Difference is you gain respect in the industry, get more work from it and get paid more, because you are seen as a professional.
  • rebar said on May 15, 2010
    Daniel should get his facts straight and learn how to spell first.
  • gabriella martin said on May 27, 2010
    i am a 20 year old 3rd year architecture student and even i know that you need to be registered to practice architecture. It is law. in other words it is illegal to design if you are not registered
  • CinciNate said on May 27, 2010
    In most of the US, "architect", "architecture", and "architectural" are terms which are only to be used by licensed architects or accredited/sanctioned educational programs. If one uses those terms for commercial purposes and are not licensed, they can be fined. For instance, the Ohio Board of Examiners are very aggressive about investigating and pursuing legal action against violators.

    Even when my company asked me to put "architectural intern" on my card, I would not because of the law, and my respect for the process and the discipline. People work very hard and long to develop the craft, the artistry, to understand the socio-economic ramifications of building and design (both good and bad), the legalities of the construction industry and the health, safety and welfare of the public. That breadth of knowledge, and experience deserves a little more respect than it currently has. When I passed my last test, I then felt worthy of calling myself an architect.

    Can a person not be an architect and own an architectural firm. I am not entirely sure how this always works. In Ohio, I believe a licensed firm must 51% of the firm must be owned by licensed architects or other design professionals such as engineers. Otherwise, the firm can not tout architectural services. This could very easily be wrong depending on what type of firm you are... llc, llp, s-corp, etc.

    Can you be unlicensed and still perform design services? Most single family residential homes can currently be designed by anyone... most of the time, the owner gets what they pay for. In Kentucky, as of a couple years ago, an individual could design up to a twelve unit multi-farm without a license... scary.

    Can a graduate from an accredited architectural school, who has worked in an architectural firm call her/himself an architect, architectural designer, architectural intern? No, not in Ohio or in most any jurisdiction.!!!!
  • Old Builder said on June 30, 2010
    I've been a builder for nearly 40years now. If you want to understand how to cantilever a home over a 100 bluff, ask someone with experience. Really, we just glance at the plans. Does it take a hundred ton crane or a fifty ton crane to lift 18 ton drill rig with 50' of boom? Where is bedrock, 25' down, or 65'down? The engineer asked me how we are going to de-water the foundation. HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST? Would your accredited architectural school professors be able to answer any of these questions. Do you know the answer to any of these questions. Weather you are licensed or not, if you know what you are doing, people will hire you. Please end this posturing thread. BTW, I do draw details in CAD for engineers and architects so they understand how we build unusual structures.
  • rebar said on July 3, 2010
    The only posturing I see here is from non-architects trying to argue around that fact that they are not architects. Architects (or professors) don't need to know everything, least of all how to see underground - Old Builder's rhetorical question makes no sense. Would a qualified architect (or professor) know how to get the right answer? Yes. Does knowing what kind of crane to use qualify you to design a school, a hospital, or a church? No. Is there anything magic about CAD? No - I've seen shop drawings on napkins approved by architects and built perfectly.
  • C_Say said on August 3, 2010
    Well, My husband has an AAS in Architectural Drafting AND 10 year in various construction trades and my Father owns a home building company, being in this business my whole life, I do know a thing or two about the subject. The word "Architecture" is NOT copyrighted. However, to operate as an Architect, yes you need a license. Now, someone with an AAS in ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTING can design anything under 10,000 square feet. So, this usually limits them to residential, which they tend to call themselves Residential Designers. Builders PREFER them. Why? Because most of them have actually worked in the field. Just like Old_Builder said, (unfortunately, rebar, being in the business, you would have UNDERSTOOD what Old_Builder said) that a Builder can give a rats a__ whether someone has a 2 year degree or 4 year degree, a builder wants to see plans, and NOT have to have them changed. Do you know why? Does any of you architects know why? Because it COSTS money. If the drawing is wrong or some architect wants dome design that is not only difficult but nearly impossible to build without going over budget than no one but the Architect is making money. Why pay an over priced Architect, who should have gone to college for something else, when you have drafters who actually know what they are doing, and are cheaper? After sitting in many meetings with Architects who just CANNOT grasp the concept that you cannot have 1/8" between these two walls, or trying your hardest to explain to them that it something is IMPOSSIBLE or that the wall is a 45 degree angle, I prefer someone with FIELD EXPERIENCE. I do not care what kind of degree you have, if you have not worked in the field, grunt labor construction, than you do not know what you are doing. PERIOD. Yes, any one can clean up a job site, or use CAD or get the carpenter a tool but the actual skill of home building or building itself is a special trade and they are NOT respected as they should be. Can you build a house with your hands and a few tools and pass building codes and inspections? These people CAN. I am NOT saying that is ALWAYS the case, as there are many Architects who are wonderful and many Drafters who cannot do their jobs.

    Rebar--Yes, knowing what kind of crane does qualify you do design!! Why do you ask? How do you build it if you are unaware of what kind of materials to use? How do you know if it is possible to build if you do not know what kind of materials would be needed or how much it would cost to build it? If you are unaware of the materials then how do you design something in a budget that the home owner/person PAYING can afford? Architects tend to want to be famous designers rather than doing the job they are being PAID to do!! Using someone else's money to make a name for yourself, or be the next Frank Lloyd Wright is wrong! Pay for that yourself! Cad is a great program and those napkin drawings were put together from a shaky hand on a napkin that has been damaged into an actual building or residence! If that is not amazing to you than you have no business on this forum!

    Bottom line, just like old builder said, If you CAN do the work, people WILL hire you. Regardless of how many years you spent in school. Your fancy 4 year degree is NOT going to account for the million dollar job you screw up, if someone has a 2 year degree and CAN prove they CAN do the work, then there is no reason not to use them.
  • rebar said on August 8, 2010
    C_Say; I enjoyed reading your note. True, architects don't do themselves, their clients, the profession, or society ANY favors by satisfying their egos first and not understanding the business they are in. That's too bad, but it doesn't negate the fact that "Architect" is still a protected professional title that describes a certain level of competence that a prospective client can rely on to succeed at that million-dollar project. Individual mileage may vary, but the terms Residential Designer (of single family wooden homes) and Architect (of single-family homes, multi-family development, skyscrapers, airports, museums, hospitals, etc.) are not equivalent. If someone is thinking about becoming an Architect and doing the work that Architects can do, they should weigh the pros and cons of attaining that title and what that may mean to their career prospects. It's not for everyone.
  • jimmy said on September 13, 2010
    i dont know why everyone trying to be more important than the next person, i'm an architect and i realize we all have our roles to play in making a building/structure happen, architects work with engineers etc to design the building, and builders make it actually happen, without one of these key professions, nothing happens, its simple, so get over yourselves, we are all just as important in the whole scheme of things as the next guy
  • architect said on September 15, 2010
    I am a licensed architect in Ontario, Canada. Do I need to register a firm & get professional insurance etc. to practice as a freelance?
  • Gary said on September 21, 2010
    In Pennsylvania and NY the word Architect and it's derivatives are protected by state law. Despite the title of this article, if you are not an architect and offer to provide architectural services you will wind up in prison and pay heavy fines. Be my guest.
  • Jason said on September 24, 2010
    In summary, a strong architect should have a strong grasp of all of the following... design, drafting, structure, MEP, contract administration, construction administration, business, code knowledge and on the job experience on a construction site. A good understanding of local politics and the major players in town can go a long way too. States that require architects do so to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Know the Life Safety Code! A seal is usually required for buildings over 5000 sf, over 3 stories in height or for assembly, educational or institutional uses. other than that, a seal isnt usually required. I've seen bad architects and just as bad engineers. It's what you make it and how much you want to put into your career and how much liability you want to take on. Decide on what you want to do. If you want to be a designer, then you will be limited to what a designer can legally do, if you want a shot at whatever comes your way, get a license. Do your homework, decide, put in the time and do it. If you cant do that, quit the complaining and name calling. We are all in the same industry and rely on each other for support on different phases of a project. We bicker and fight over clients and money and in the end its all of us that suffer via lower fees.
  • Jason said on September 24, 2010
    Old Builder- Clearly, means and methods are up to the contractor. I agree that you have to know what you're doing to get hired. Architects/engineers have learned some things from you I'm sure, but there was probably a time when you learned a thing or two from them as well. Really, we are all on the same team.
  • Sadiq said on December 14, 2010
    I want to build my firm with studios and offices, how do i start.
  • AEI Williams Group said on January 6, 2011
    This is probably one of the most guarded secretes out there, but yes it is true to stamp drawings and use the word architecture you must be license at least as it relates to commercial or government work, and all states are different as it relates to the in's and out of the requirements to become a license architect. Yet to own a architecture firm you, yourself do not need to be license, but you must have a license architect working in the firm to solicit architectural services same with engineering. Think of it like this, Henry Ford was the greatest car builder ever but he was no engineer he was just a great mind and even more so than that a great manager of people that's sometimes all it takes.
  • carla said on March 1, 2011
    Albany NY United States. My husband has his own drafting business for building construction and design with a Bachelor's in Architecture but he is not licensed he pays a license architect to oversee, review and stamp his drawings is this okay. He., himself is not a licensed architect is this okay in the state of NY? Thanks for any input on this
  • floridarchitect said on April 6, 2011
    Carla - that does not look okay to me unless the architect manages your husband's work directly. He may also have to have 51% ownership in the company, or partnership! If something goes wrong, that architect is liable for work he didn't create. NY is pretty strict about stuff like that in my limited experience.
  • joanna ruiz said on April 7, 2011
    was frank lloyd wright a licensed architect?all of his huge structures until now still recognized...come to think of it..........
  • dom cam said on April 8, 2011
    Zschweter gone all quiet since old builder + friends stepped in the Frey with logic? Z Architects do Not have a Mortgage for good design. I'm a proud BUILDING DESIGNER from down under & I actually Employed Architect geese like you from all around the world, only to have to Correct your mistakes!!! Yes a minority of licensed architects have raw talent & ability, however, its the bow-tie-wearing, bigot-headed, self-absorbed, capatilist-minded, elitist Parra-professionals like YOU that Don't listen to their client or builder because their Head is too far stuck-up their proverbial ass.... that give good Architects a bad name! Cheers, Non-architect
  • Pyae Phyo Naung said on May 11, 2011
    My name is Pyae Phyo Naung.I am from Myanmar.I am not architect engineer. But I really interested in architect design.One Day I will Run Architect Design company. I want to join with Other Friends. Now I am working Autocad Job. I have A lot of Projects. Contact Phone 0973099468 Contact Email
  • Botak said on July 8, 2011
    To become an architect is a lot of hard work. 5 years of professional degree plus 3 years of practical experience and passing 9 subjects in the license exam. It could take over 8-10 years of time. So have some respect for the title, not even doctors or lawyers require such tedious time and effort.
  • Kaisaa said on July 9, 2011
    GYAAAAH! if that's the case... that even w/o license and without studying architecture, you may design and be in a firm.... then it's unfair for students/graduates of BS architecture like me.! do you know how hard it is to study architecture just to graduate, pass the board exam and have a license?? it's indescribably hard! it kills! it makes a person malnourished! you have to be nocturnal just to finish plates and stuffs.
  • LLOYD said on July 27, 2011
    The world is full of SAD AND PATHETIC ARCHITECT WANNABES who didn't make it to Architecture school. Most of them are businessmen who engage in real estate development and construction.
  • LLOYD said on July 27, 2011
    Very funny. We would always here these words: Architects don't make money, Prostitutes earn more than Architects. If you wanna be rich don't aspire to be an Architect. How in the world there are all sorts of businessmen, property developers, computer geeks and j**ks, contractors, engineers who all wanted to practice Architecture or use the word Architect. To all of you Architect wannabes, F**K YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • LLOYD said on July 27, 2011
    And lastly, Architecture is not a business, it's a profession, a REGULATED PROFESSION. If you're just interested in Architecture but without a professional license, forget it. Before practicing Architecture, you're supposed to study Architecture in a university (The days of Wright and Ando are over), take the required training, then pass the licensure exams. So you become a BONAFIDE-FULL-FLEDGED-REGISTERED ARCHITECT. Not like those pathetic builder-contractors-carpenters, real estate developers, and all sort of FRUSTRATED Architect WANNABES WHO DIDN'T MAKE IT TO ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL.
  • Heggi said on July 28, 2011
    Kkkkk, Just finished part II in the U.K., after studying a Year foundation, 3 Years BA, another 2 Years Dip Arch and still a few Years until I get my part III and finally the title “architect”, not counting the whole PEDR - forever investing in developing my knowledge if I want to keep that tittle. It’s no surprise you see so much rubbish in the world! After all the crap I just read; If you do your research you will realise that good architects do little architecture throughout their lives because this is a hard thing to do - it is a long, arduous process, let alone all the responsibilities and liability they carry on their shoulders. Good architecture is like a piece of art, a painting or a statue that becomes timeless and therefore priceless, yet the architects themselves are like the artist who never make any money while alive and work off their asses trying to live behind something worthy in this world. Not like speculative contractors and builders who construct thousands of boxes and make huge amounts of money in a short period of time. The difference however is how unsustainable, inappropriate, plastic, unhealthy and ugly this places become, what in many ways and for many reasons make them extremely expensive, not only for their clients but also for generations to come. So, do yourselves a favour and start thinking about those generations because they are nothing less than your own continuation in this world and you should take responsibility on that fact.
  • kanika kundal said on August 31, 2011
    i am an architect in new delhi,india. i want to get my architecture firm name in english starting with alphabet a,s,r. lp me out. it should be meaningful.
  • Drafty said on September 9, 2011
    I am a self employed Architectural Draftsman with a diploma in Architectural Drafting and "Architectural Drafting Invoice" is what goes on my invoices. This is perfectly legal because its what I do. But I also know its quite highly illegal of Mcdonald Jones Homes in the state NSW Australia, a big builder who advertises their current series of homes as 'Architect Designed' when in fact the guy who designed them ; Stuart Everett only has a Diploma and is therefore only an Architectural Draftsman.
  • me said on September 24, 2011
    in the uk the only constraint is that you can not call your firm an architectural PRACTICE. but it can be a consultancy, or something along those lines. As long as you have PI insurance, there is no stopping you from doing what a PRACTICE does!
  • Magoo said on October 1, 2011
    I'm planning to engage in the Construction business, and I'm planning to call it OTHERS Construction Company. I think it would get plenty of commissions as Architects always specify the words "BY OTHERS" in their construction drawings.
  • Vijay Kumar said on October 1, 2011
    I am a Businessman and carrying currently Interior Decorator business for last 15 years in New Delhi, India. I have much experience in Architecture. But I havent licensed architect. But now I want to hire lincensed architect in my firm and increase the service criteria of my firm to Architecture Service & Design. So, Can I able to do this as per legal rule of architecture council.
  • LLOYD said on October 1, 2011
    @ Vijay Kumar: You are one of those Architect wannabes I've been talking about. Read my comments on No. 84
  • MOHAMMED AZAHARUDDIN] said on November 3, 2011
    hi my name is azaharuddin i am opening a small architect and cad designing company. but i have no contacts how can i develop my small business my designs are excellent design .any clients u have mail me .. my mail id= thank u...
  • chris said on November 3, 2011
    Remember guys, many famous buildings were creatively designed by non-architects. If you are an architect, I'm sure you studied Architectural History. From ancient to Renaissance period until this modern times, and foundation of architecture was laid as you see those historical buildings/ structure that still there such as pyramids in Egypt, St. Peter's Basilica. We idolized Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci but were they licensed architects? Are you greater than them? The creative minds still dominates in spite of legal hindrances whether you are licensed or not.
  • pinoyARCH said on November 27, 2011
    Bottomline: Starting a business on architectural field is not an easy one, needs a good product which is design services legally. Starting an office is an easy one, having a good break on client and project is the hard part. We as an architects tends to focus more on architecture and I'm not saying we don't have to, what we need is the skill of being entrepreneurship or businessman to manage efficiently the company with great satisfaction from the clients and end users which great impact to their day to day lives. By the way I thought this article was helpful and i found it's not. I'll start my own company because I got a new project to start with, I hope I can grow my company with great practice and good building design as my product. Cheeeeeers GUYS! Don't let your EGOS inflate!
  • Rommel said on December 2, 2011
    I practice architecture design and doing fine...while it's true that you can't use the name architect but still you can practice and have an architectural firm...but must have someone with a license to sign your plans. The most important thing is the Know-how.
  • LLOYD said on December 3, 2011
    Those who practice Architecture without license are the equivalent of QUACK DOCTORS in the field of Medicine. They can not use the title Architect, although I suggest they use the title "QUACK ARCHITECT".
  • M- said on December 23, 2011
    Those practicing without a license would do well to read the "Professional Practices Act" which governs what one can and cannot do without a license by law. That's right ... "by law", meaning that if one is in violation, he/she can face fines and/or imprisonment. Basically an individual without a license is limited to wood construction, 2 stories or less plus a basement, single family home or 4 units or less as long as it is not part of a larger project, appurtenant structures (i.e. garages or additions - again wood construction only 2 stories plus basement), and in some cases agricultural buildings as long as the local jurisdiction provides permission. Producing plans and having an architect stamp them is a major violation of the act and the associated architect can face fines, imprisonment and face losing their license. The act clearly states that the "architect" must be in control of the production of the documents. Finally, an individual not licensed is restricted from using the word "architecture", "architect", or "architectural" OR anything confusingly similar. "holding oneself out as an architect" is the most frequent violation listed in monthly prosecutions. The individual licensing boards take a very strong stand in protecting these practices since they understand the rigors of what it takes to become licensed for the purpose of protecting the health, welfare and life/safety of the community in which one practices. Each month a long list of individuals are listed for violating this act. I would strongly encourage those in violation to cease, and find out what it takes to attain the license ... it is an achievable and rewarding experience!
  • Leanne said on January 17, 2012
    The word "architect" is protected by statutory law in Australia. It is illegal to call yourself an architect in Australia if you are not legally registered by the regulating governing statutory body in each state ie. the architects registration board in each state. It is impossible for anyone to unlawfully register a company, partnership or business in Australia without the approval of the Architect registration board (statutory body) and also checks with business registration. At least one director must be a registered architect with the required PIInsurance and obtain approval from the Statutory architects board. People posing illegally as an architect and using the words "architect" without registration approved by the architects registration board in australia to do so have received criminal convictions and have been charged with fraud, received high fines and imprisonment by courts in australia. It is illegal in australia to start an business illegally using the words Architect and architecture without approval by the architects registration board. Anyone can use the word design or designer as it does not have a profession or a specific level of expertise required of them. Go and get registered at the architects registration board and start your architectural company correctly and stay out of jail !!!!!
  • Sachin said on January 30, 2012
    In india architecture profession is protected by architects act 1972. To start the firm u need to register your firm in local authority(firm act)after submitting your COA(council of architecture new delhi registration after 5 year of graduation, B.Arch)& registration in Indian Institute of architects(IIA, mumbai).Using name 'architect' without qualification and COA/IIA registration is a offense.
  • Edson said on February 6, 2012
    I think you can start an Architectural firm even if you are not one. You just have to partner or hire people with the relevant qualifications to do the work as all Architectural projects have to be approved by the relevant authorities before work can be started. You will also have to register the firm with relevant authorities and councils. If you have the passion and the resources, why not give it a try. Nothing is easy so don't be discouraged with those that say its difficult.
  • sanjeev kumar said on February 19, 2012
    I wants to do own architectural at own residence i have experience of 25 yeas need freelance architectural work and wants to make own construction company need partner my mobile number 9958409700 i am residing in delhi 7 D pocket -3rd mayur phase-1 delhi 110091


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