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What factors can influence the type of legal structure that a firm chooses?

Number of employees

Number of offices

Number of partners

State licensing board requirements


Best ways to reduce taxes


What are the three main types of legal structures for a firm?

Sole Proprietorship




What are the four different types of corporations?

S Corporation (S-Corp) (Business Corporation)

C Corporation (C-Corp) (Business Corporation)

Limited Liability Company (LLC) (Professional Corporation)

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) (Professional Corporation)


What is an S Corp?

A business structure that allows income and expenses to flow through the individual business owner, who must pay taxes on that money.


What is a C Corp?

A business structure that separates the individual from the corporation, and the individuals are paid as employees. Setting up and maintaining a corporation can be expensive and require an accountant and/or a lawyer. In addition, the firm will have to file separate corporate tax returns. The advantage to having this separate entity is to shield the individual partners from personal liability.


What is an LLC

A business structure that is typically used for small firms cause it is the least complex business structure. Creating an LLC provides the simple tax advantages of a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation.


What is an LLP?

A variation on the LLC that offers liability protections that are not available to general partnerships; the personal assets of partners are protected against liability from business claims, except in the case of fraud or other criminal wrongdoing.


What are the characteristics of a Sole Proprietorship?

+ Least expensive structure
+ Simplest form
+ Included in individual's tax return (no state or fed tax forms)

Individual = business legally
Terminated by death of individual

- Unlimited personal liability


What are the characteristics of a General Partnership?

Like a sole proprietorship, but for multiple people.
Partners share in duties, profits, losses, management.

+ Business does not pay income tax on profits, these are passed on to the partners, who pay tax on their shares.

- Both partners have potential full liability


What are the characteristics of an S Corporation?

Most common structure for architects.
Owned by shareholders who run the practice.
Profits passed on to shareholders.

- Architect can still be professionally liable.


What are the characteristics of an C Corporation?

Clearly separates the individual from the corporation.
Allowed to have more than 100 shareholders.
Treated as a separate taxable entity by the IRS.


What are the characteristics of an LLC?

Provides the liability protections of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership.

Members own the LLC

Classified as a corporate partnership for federal taxes


What are the characteristics of an LLP?

Same tax advantages as LLC

Must have at least one managing partner who bears liability for the firm.

Non-managing owners receive liability protection.


What is the general idea behind incorporation?

To add a layer of liability protection for the firm owners.


What is an MBE?

Minority-owned Business Enterprise (>51%)


What is a WBE?

Woman-owned Business Enterprise (>51%)


What is a DBE?

Disadvantage-owned Business Enterprise (>51% veteran, disabled vet, or other)


What is an SBE?

Small Business Enterprise


What is a major advantage of MBE/WBE/DBE/SBE registration?

Most public RFP's will favor these firms.


What is EBD?

Evidence Based Design is the process of basing design decisions on actual scientific research to improve the project.


What has EBD helped in healthcare settings?

EBD rooms can improve recover time, reduce medical mistakes, and even reduce accidental death.


What strategies should be used to help EBD decision making?

1) Start with identifying the problems
2) Use an integrated multidisciplinary approach
3) Patient & Family Focus
4) Life Cycle Cost! Not just upfront
5) Participation + Criteria Management (decision trees)
6) Incentive-linked criteria (surveys)
7) Use partnership to create products
8) Simulation + Testing
9) 30-50 year ROI analysis
10) Over communicate!


When determining the best approach to a new project, what should the architect consider?

Project Issues:
- Potential problems
- Potential delays
- Project delivery method
- Permit approval process
- Amount of detailing needed

Firm Issues:
- Current workload in the office
- Other deadlines
- Staff availability

Owner Issues:
- Owner availability
- Owner involvement
- Owner's experience with projects


What kind of tasks may be included in an RFP?

- Interviewing the occupants
- Developing several design options
- Analyzing the site
- Identifying major project challenges
- Building some additional time as contingency
- Suggesting the project delivery method
- Looking at sustainable design approaches
- Researching Precedents


What are some best practices for a project?

- Weekly staff meetings
- Weekly project manager meetings
- Standard file organization
- Standard forms
- Code Review early in project
- Planning Review early in project
- Standard meeting minutes
- Standard cover letters, memos, etc.
- Archive emails
- Internal comm. platform (Teams, Skype)
- Record meetings with owner
- Unique project code
- Weekly staffing reports
- Internal QA/QC


What three types of things are in the construction documents

Drawings (the design)
Project Manual (bidding, contracts, specs)
Specifications (quality and workmanship of the work)


What are the four costs associated with quality?

- Prevention Costs, it costs to train staff how to do things the right way

- Appraisal Costs, the cost in time to review the drawings diligently before sending them out.

- Internal Failure, project or process failures, such as incomplete drawings.

- External Failure, a failure after the delivery of drawings.