How to Start an Architecture Firm
How to Start an Architecture Firm
Architecture is the practice and product of design and construction of buildings and other physical structures for varied uses. The profession lies at the intersection of technical, social, environmental, aesthetic and functional domains. The current boom in the real estate sector is creating enormous demand in India wherein only 3000- 4500 architects graduate annually from 180 schools. With an estimated 40000 architecture professionals pan-India for a population of 1.2 billion, the demand is only set to grow. This demand makes the prospect of an architecture firm very lucrative for an entrepreneur.
Type of firm/services
To start, the entrepreneur has to focus on the kind of services his/her firm would be providing. Besides the enormous need for interior design, expansion and commercial building design, sustainable/ green building designs are also being sought after due to rising energy prices and government incentives. Concurrently, the size of the firm has to be decided upon. It could be a large or a small firm providing a range of services including landscape, interior design and engineering services, boutique design studio or a specialised firm for niche clients.
Networking is an essential factor to enable any business. A number of ways to make the work is visible occur on participating in national/international design competitions, publishing it in design magazines and attending design conclaves. Creating a website for the firm with samples of the work increases visibility which would lead to more interest/ inquiries from potential clients. Informal networking strategies are useful for private clients with small scale residential projects. However, government and institutional work mandates would require working on RFPs (Request For Proposals) and RFQs (Request For Qualifications) from which a certain number of candidates would be shortlisted. It is essential to get a steady stream of good quality work to keep up the interests of the firm.
The next step would be to get registered with the Council of Architecture (COA) after completion of a Bachelor of Architecture degree (B. Arch) from a recognised university to practice independently. Registration with the CoA entails requisite qualification as per the Architects Act after finishing the above-mentioned education in accordance with the CoA minimum standards regulations 1983. The candidate will get the Certificate of Registration on compliance of education standards which need to be renewed periodically. The registration certificate entitles the candidate to use the title of an architect and to provide architectural services. The candidate is also to observe professional conduct as stipulated in the Architects (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 1989 (as amended in 2003).
A Masters in Architecture degree is optional however, many organisers mandate a masters degree to participate in international design competitions. The employees working under the owner of the firm need not register with the CoA as the owner(s) will act as the signatory of the drawings.
Firm Registration- Sole Proprietorship or Partnership
Next step is registration of the firm. The firm may be registered as a sole proprietorship firm in case of a single promotor who will be responsible for the entire operations. However, if 2 or more decide to partner to start a firm, a partnership firm or limited liability partnership (LLP) can be started. In case of a partnership or LLP, all the partners need to be registered with the CoA. Public companies, private limited companies, societies and other juridical individuals are not allowed to practice architecture nor use the title of an architect as per the Architects Act.