contracts and invoicing for architects

Architectural contracts and invoicing – top mistakes to avoid

Most small business owners, freelancers, and independent consultants in all industries have one thing in common: they make mistakes early on.

Architects are not an exception. Even if you are a talented architect great at what you do – you will still screw up sometimes – in paperwork, communication, or time management.

Most invoicing mistakes cause inconveniences: you get paid later than you should, you spend more time than you should managing invoices, and so on. 

However, some consequences of bad invoicing and contracts can be devastating. In case if any disputes arise around large projects and high-check customers, you may get into trouble if your paperwork has discrepancies.

Always make sure you are careful with both your contracts and invoices. Since mistakes with contracts and invoices are absolutely typical for architects and city planners, we’ve created an intuitive invoice control system in PlanMan.

Below is a list of the top contracting and invoicing mistakes we’ve seen most of our clients make at one point.

Not signing a contract 

Believe it or not some people still work that way for “quick” projects. But short cuts make long delays as Pippin said in the Lord of The Rings. The dangers of working without a contract are so obvious that we won’t even start the list.

If the client is reluctant to sign a contract – that could be a red flag. Most often you’d need to negotiate terms though – and that is why contract negotiation is an important skill set in architecture.

Have a typical contract template at hand and have your client sign it even if you think the project is “small”, “quick”, or “simple”.

There are countless architecture contract templates online, some of the examples you could use are:

IMPORTANT: Consult a legal professional to validate all contract templates you find online.

Incongruence of the invoice with the contract

This happens when you forget what was in the contract – or if you used a contract template that does not contain services you’re invoicing for. That is why you always need to make sure your contract contains enough details and amendments covering all services you may invoice for in the future.

Pay special attention to how well your contract explains what your deliverables are. Make sure you and the client are on the same page about the status of all drawings, drafts, and detailed reports that you will eventually send over.

If your invoice covers something not mentioned in the contract this may cause issues during possible future disputes, so make sure you avoid this mistake.

One of the invoice best practices for architects and city planners is to include references to quotes and estimates. Something that explains the amount in the invoice and refers back to your quotes. This is useful for transparency and a better experience of the client.

Bad communication with subcontractors

If you are working with subcontractors (and you are in complex projects), you need to take their payment schedules and practices into account. If the subcontractors are not aware of when and how you and they are getting paid – that could create extra delays in your project.

Instead, create and maintain separate communication channels with subcontractors and all other interested parties, so that everyone involved in the project is on the same page. We’ve added the highly functional communication module to PlanMan exactly for those purposes.

Submitting invoices late 

All beginner freelancers and consultants are guilty of that – architects included. They submit invoices late, which may cause issues if the client is a complicated entity with complex processes. 

Ultimately, the architect suffers the consequences of not getting paid on time. What is worth, any subcontractors you’re supervising are suffering as well, which brings down the general project productivity level.

Instead: Set a schedule of your invoices, submit them all at the same time monthly. Set this up in an invoice management module of PlanMan and eliminate the variable completely.

Submitting incorrect invoices & missing details

Inaccurate invoices cause payment delays, accounting and taxation issues, and ultimately that costs you money. If you have to re-do your invoices instead of focusing on your clients’ project- the quality of your work goes down.

Instead: create client profiles in PlanMan and every invoice will be accurate every time.

Not backing up your invoices in the cloud

Losing past invoices causes all kinds of problems in the years to come. Hard drives die, papers get lost, and if you are not backing up your architectural invoices in the cloud – it’s high time to start doing it now.

If you are looking for a convenient tool for all your invoices and documents – we’ve addressed that need with our document management module – sign up and see how seamless it is!

Have you ever made an invoice mistake?

Mistakes are inevitable – you just need to make sure you avoid the major ones. We’ve built PlanMan specifically for architects and construction project managers, and the platform takes care of the most common needs. Sign up for a trial and see for yourself!

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