Aug 12, 2021 3:53 pm
Hi, I'm looking at engaging an independent Building Designer. I've received a couple of fee proposals, and they both include the same clauses:
"Y COPYRIGHT & ELECTRONIC FILES
Y.1 The ownership of the copyright in any design documentation prepared by the Designer under the terms of this Contract shall remain with the Designer. Where the Client makes all payments required under this Contract by the due date, the Designer grants to the Client licence to use the documentation for the purpose of... construction of the project. This licence is granted for the use of the documentation for the project named in Clause Y for the Client identified in Clause X and is not transferable... The Client shall not make or cause to be made any alterations to documentation supplied by the Designer under the terms of this contract without the written permission of the Designer. Any such permission granted must state the extent of alterations permitted and the Client shall not make or cause to be made alterations except as so permitted.
Y.2 All electronic files developed for the purpose of producing the required plans and documentation for the project remain under the sole ownership of the Designer. These files are not to be shared with any other party without the expressed permission of the Designer. The Designer accepts no responsibility for... (anything).
In the event that this Contract is terminated, before completion, for any reason... the Client shall make payment to the Designer for services rendered... In the event that this Contract is terminated prior to completion of the complete project plans and documentation, the license to use the documentation under Clause Y above shall be deemed as not granted to the Client."
I'm guessing that because both contracts are almost identical in wording that this is from a standard contract. The bit that concerns me is that even if I pay the full designer's full fee, I still don't own so much as the floor plan (given how the payment schedules are front-loaded, the full payment isn't going to cost much more than the floor plan in the scheme of things).
I'd have a license to build from it, but if any alterations to the design whatsoever are required then I have to ask the designer who can withhold permission for whatever reason he sees fit (e.g. he decides he wants to extort me). Seems a little bit lopsided - if I have basically no rights then what the point of an independent designer? I might as well just go with a design & build company if I want to get shafted.
I know the first answer I get will be to get independent legal advice which I will do before signing anything, but I just thought I'd see if anyone on here had any insight as to whether this is standard practice for all building designers/architects.
Re: Building design contracts2
Aug 12, 2021 7:38 pm
Personally I wouldn't accept that. I would require that the digital files be shared and wholly owned by me at all times. But then, I'm not a fan of architects nor would I be their typical client and they would not want to be working for me.
I suspect they prefer to bring on clients who will give then end-to-end ownership and not enter into their territory, so I don't know if those conditions would be negotiable.
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