Establishing my architectural firm
Setting up a firm is a complex process. The practice of architecture is governed by a well-defined regulatory framework. Many factors must be considered before embarking on this project.
You will have to make many decisions which will have major legal repercussions on both your practice and your family.
What are your professional goals? What are your preferences in terms of a practice? Do you want to practice alone or with partners? Do you want to practice in the city, in the suburbs, or in a rural area? Affiliated to a chain or a banner? These questions call for careful consideration. This exercise is crucial, as the answers will determine how you will proceed.
As the sole proprietor, or a future partner or affiliate, you will have to:
- Find a partner or a replacement in case of sick leave, maternity or paternity leave, or other absence
- Hire administrative staff, as the case may be
- Assess your insurance needs
Your personal life
Your professional choices will have an impact on your family life and your personal goals: having children, buying or building a home, etc. So it’s essential to consider these aspects.
To set up your firm, you must start by determining its legal form of organization. Specific regulations apply according to the type of legal entity within which you choose to practice your profession.
The right fit
You can choose the legal form that suits you best, according to your professional objectives. Each type of entity has its own characteristics and is governed by a specific regulatory framework.
|Sole proprietorship (self-employed)|
– property, knowledge
|Joint stock company or corporation|
A legal entity separate from the individuals who manage it and those who own it.
The right name
Choosing the name of your firm requires careful consideration and nothing should be left to chance.
You must make sure that the name you choose complies with:
- the Code of ethics of architects (section 74),
- Quebec’s Act respecting the legal publicity of enterprises
- all the regulations in force.
To make everything official, you must register your firm in the Registraire des entreprises du Québec by completing the registration application. Fees apply according to the type of legal entity.
You must also notify the Ordre des architectes of the establishment of your firm within the prescribed period and attach all the necessary documents according to the legal form chosen.
Your professional liability
As for all professionals, you must have liability insurance when you start your practice. Depending on your situation, specific regulations apply:
- if your practice is in Quebec or outside Quebec
- according to the legal status of your firm
You found the perfect place to establish your firm, a rental space in a building, or in a commercial building you will own. One way or another, you will have a setup fee and/or acquisition fee, and you will have to obtain credit for a down payment.
Make your plans
What is your current financial situation? Getting credit requires a complete assessment of your income, your expenses, your savings and your debts.
A balance sheet and cash flow statement are helpful tools for professionals which can be used to:
- Assess your borrowing capacity
- Establish a repayment plan that may extend over several years as the case may be
- Determine if leasing is the best option, if this option is available to you
- Establish the operating budget plan for your practice (projections)
- Identify the best tax structure (incorporation, your professional income, etc.)
- Plan your personal budget and savings
- Determine the work pace required to meet your obligations
You have in hand all of the seller’s documents, did all the due diligence, obtained your financing, and your offer (or counter-offer) was accepted. If all the conditions are satisfied, you can go ahead with the transaction.
NEQ Other steps must be completed before officially becoming the owner of your practice or your commercial building. The transaction must be organized and finalized.
At the finish line
With the contract in hand, you’re almost there! Before signing, you must:
- Obtain your registration number : NEQ, GST/QST, etc.
- Have insurance: property & casualty, life, disability
- Become member of the Association des Architectes en pratique privée du Québec
- Plan and set up the accounting
- Prepare the legal closing documents
You must also be sure to notify the Ordre des architectes du Québec of the transaction and comply with the regulation governing your profession.
Make things easier for yourself
To establish your architect firm, you should leave nothing to chance. It’s a rigorous and demanding process for one person to handle. You should have people to assist you and advise you.
The Financial gives you access to all the resources you need to help you make the right choices.
Professionals you can trust
For more detailed answers and a thorough analysis of your situation, place your trust in one of our advisors.