Negotiating Architect Contracts

In this episode of the Business of Architecture Show, we talk tips for negotiating an architectural contract. Our guest is business consultant Mariana Idiarte. She has worked with firms such as Rem Koolhaas’ firm OMA to help negotiate architectural contracts with both clients and other consultants.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • When the actual negotiation begins (its sooner than you think)
  • How to make sure you have the right negotiating strategy
  • Three common negotiating mistakes architects that make
  • Connect with Mariana Idiarte on Linkedin

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Interview Transcript

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Enoch Sears
I am a licensed California architect who loves researching and sharing about running a great architecture business. I founded Business of Architecture to help solo architects and small firms run a better business so they can have the peace of mind to focus on creating great architecture.
Enoch Sears


Solo architect? Get the work you want. Marketing and business info for architects. Author of 'Social Media for Architects, FREE download:
“You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.” - Zig Ziglar - 20 hours ago

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6 Responses to Negotiating Architect Contracts

  1. Mariana Idiarte September 5, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you all for the great feedback! I’m thrilled that you found my conversation with Enoch useful.
    In response to Ruth’s points:
    – contract models: in my experience, 95% of the clients want to use their own contract model, rather than the standard architectural ones. It certainly helps if you do KNOW your contract, and proposing a contract model to your client may work. Bottom line is that even if you include “your” standard conditions in a proposal or quotiation, you can’t assume the client will agree to them.
    – exploring international markets: I hope you got the chance to watch my second interview with Enoch about this subject. Contact me through Linkedin if you have more questions!

  2. Carol Jin March 17, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Excellent interview! I agree with all her points, especially on signing contract, closing the deal so to speak. Not all clients select architect solely on fees and that is a fact. It is emotional choice as much as it is rational decision. It is so worthwhile to take the time to understand what they want, and what you want, and then you have better chance to find the common ground.
    Thanks for the effort and time for producing such insightful content!

  3. Rachel Burton March 17, 2014 at 5:21 am #

    Hi Enoch,

    This was a really great interview. I especially liked Marina’s points about taking the time to understand what the client really wants and identify your own business goals in talking a particular project.

    Her points about educating the client about our process, identify who is involved in the decision making process, preparing for meetings, having an agenda and running the meeting according to the agenda….all invaluable.

    Thanks for providing really good content and helping me ‘conquer the world!’

  4. Pablo Schaer March 14, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Excellent, clear and very interesting interview.
    I am an architect but also a sales engineer and it was great to hear many concepts mentioned that are so important to refresh and to take into account !

  5. Ruth Cawker February 21, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Hello Enoch,

    Two comments: I really appreciate being able to read the transcript of the interview rather than watch a video, as I prefer receiving written information on business subjects. So thank you for providing text version of the discussion with Mariana Idiarte.
    In terms of the subject, I would value additional detail about:
    – the types of contracts illustrated: are firms using the standard form architectural contracts or drafting made to measure clauses for special conditions? and
    – exploring international markets.
    Having worked for a few years in a corporate context, I agree with the points about preparing meetings and would add that it is an area that should be included in architectural schools.

  6. Felipe Uría February 19, 2014 at 4:05 am #

    Great interview! I found it very interesting. Congratulations to Mariana for being so clear.

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