Engaging Consultants

Evelyn Morraitis discusses the risks you take by engaging consultants yourself

We all have that one builder who we can trust, that building surveyor that we can call on when we have a planning or permit issue and that structural engineer that we know we can rely on. All and all, designers and architects have their preferred project consultants, those who we have developed working relationships with. Even with the influence that social media has had on the world, referral marketing to this day, is still one of the easiest and cost effective ways to attract business. It is also a wonderful tool to maintain and strengthen your working relationship; if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours!

Of course, as designers and architects, we have seen the best of both worlds- the client coming to you and already having all their consultants chosen or are happy to select them themselves, and then the client who will need some guidance and recommendations from you. Naturally, you provide your client with the details of those consultants that you have developed these working relationships with and know you can trust. Whether or not that consultant is available or willing to engage with the client and the project is a different story! But let’s say the client asks you to engage the consultant/s that you recommend, it is important that you enter into the contract/s as an agent on behalf of the client. Unfortunately, the reality of it is, by entering into the agreement yourself, you are putting you and your business at risk.

What are the risks of having your own name in the contract with the consultant?

  • You are left with the bill.
  • Your professional indemnity and insurances are at risk.
  • You are accountable for the actions and performance of the consultants.
  • If you continue to work for the client, there is tension and pressure between the two parties.

What is the solution?

It is imperative that whatever contract you are using, outlines the relationship that stands between the client, you and any other consultant. The BDAV Engagement Agreement for example, eliminates all risk for you as the designer/architect and allows you to deal with either or situation; allowing the client engage the consultant or allowing you to act as the agent.

What is the BDAV Engagement Agreement?

The BDAV Engagement Agreement has been in place for over 20 years and has been developed in collaboration with Webber Insurance and BDAV’s lawyers. The BDAV Engagement Agreement is available to all practising members and is a basic yet effective contract that safeguards your relationship with your client, and sets out the expectations and deliverables for the project.

Acting as the agent for your client

In particular, the BDAV Engagement Agreement has a section that is dedicated to ‘nominated consultants.’ In this section, the contract stipulates whether the client will directly engage with other consultants or whether the designer/architect will act as an agent on behalf of the client. Furthermore, the agreement goes on to state that the client will be responsible for all payments with all consultants. For those of you who are using the BDAV Engagement Agreement, please refer to Part 5, point 11 and 12.

Not using the engagement agreement?

For those of you who are not utilising the BDAV Engagement Agreement, you can purchase a reusable copy from the BDAV webshop after logging in to the Members Portal.

Those Member who are clients of Webber Insurance receive the BDAV Engagement Agreement at no cost.