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OAA Continuing Education Course

Learning Hours: 18

The OAA’s Fundamentals of Running an Architectural Practice course offers a comprehensive overview of the business side of architecture. Originally titled Starting an Architectural Practice, this refocused program is ideal for members who are either starting their own practice or taking on an associate or partner role. It is also especially suitable for experienced architects looking for a refresh on the basics and the best practices.

Consisting of five key lessons, the entire course is delivered on three consecutive days. Taught by 11 experts in the field of architecture and finance, discussions range from industry requirements in Ontario to the exploration of business principles versus the operation elements of a professional practice. Topics include developing and modifying your strategic initiatives as an architect in the marketplace, professional requirements, client agreements, and how to manage your finances and your projects.

A light breakfast and lunch are included for each day.

For more details, please refer to the lesson descriptions below.

April 1–3, 2020 sessions - CANCELLED

Next Course Dates:
October 21-23, 2020 (three-day course)
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Ontario Association of Architects (tentative location)
111 Moatfield Drive, Toronto, ON M3B 3L6


Registration Fee
OAA Architects and Licensed Technologists OAA: $945 + HST
OAA Intern Architects: $756 + HST
Non-Members: $1134 + HST


Lesson 1

Architectural Practice in a Contemporary Context

Speaker: Raymond Chung, OAA, PMP, FMP, SFP

The context of architectural practice is changing. New project delivery methods, new industry players and disruptive business models are altering the landscape in which architects deliver design services. Architects are no longer as close to the centre of project decision-making as they once were, with the rise of paraprofessionals and the shifting priorities of clients. This session will provide the participant with a contemporary view of the social, commercial, sectoral and environmental contexts in which to make decisions about starting an architectural practice.

Learning Objectives:

    1. Discuss the architect's interests and influence in the context of the contemporary design and construction industry.
    2. Compare the three common forms of project delivery and contemporary variations in terms of performance, time and cost trade-offs.
    3. Identify the roles of the stakeholders in the design and construction industry and the architect's relationship to each

Lesson 2A

Regulatory Requirements: Ontario Architectural Practice

Speaker: Christie Mills, B.Arch, B.Comm, CSC, OAA

There are mandatory requirements for operating an architectural practice in Ontario and Canada. This session will address those requirements that are specific to architectural practice. The next session will explore those mandatory requirements common to all businesses. The two main topics of this session are the regulation of architectural practices by their respective provincial associations and the requirements to maintain insurance.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the requirements of and process for obtaining a Certificate of Practice and licensure in the province of Ontario and the implication of practicing in other jurisdictions.
  2. Describe the requirements of and processes for procuring the practice insurance including errors and omissions, general liability, automotive, and workplace safety insurance.

Lesson 2B

Regulatory Requirements: Pro-Demnity Insurance

Speaker: John Hackett, B.Arch., OAA, FRAIC

Lesson Description:

Although the purchase and maintenance of professional liability insurance is a mandatory requirement for an Ontario architectural practice, few architects starting a practice will have had meaningful exposure to the purpose and value of such insurance in their formal education and preparation for practice.   The lesson will provide attendees with fundamental information about this essential tool and the features of the professional liability insurance provided to Ontario architects by Pro-Demnity Insurance Company.  

Content includes: 

  • What is Professional Liability Insurance and why is it needed?
  • How claims against architects can arise
  • Highlights of the program provided for Ontario architects
  • Recognizing and reporting claims
  • Common issues that show up as claims
  • How claims get resolved

Time permitting, several case studies will illustrate how the insurance and settlement process works in practice.

Prior to the lesson, participants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Pro-Demnity website:  and download or obtain a copy of the information booklet: Architects Insuring Architects…The Ontario Architects Professional Liability Insurance Program.  A pdf version is available via the corresponding link. Alternatively, hard copies can be obtained from Pro-Demnity upon request.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the purpose of Professional Liability Insurance and its value to an architectural practice.
  2. Locate important information about the mandatory professional liability insurance program for Ontario architects provided by Pro-Demnity Insurance Company.
  3. Recognize some of the common circumstances that give rise to claims against architects, and how they may be resolved.
  4. Apply the information to situations that may arise in practice.

Lesson 2C

Regulatory Requirements – Business Structures in Ontario and Canada

Speaker: Elaine Pantel, CPA, CGA

Operating a business in Canada requires compliance with federal, provincial and in some cases municipal legislation, regulations, and bylaws. This session will examine the options available to a firm in terms of legal structures, and review the various taxes that may apply to a firm including income tax and GST/HST.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the functions, features, benefits and drawbacks of sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation in establishing an architectural practice.
  2. Describe the regulatory federal and provincial regulatory requirements for operating an architectural practice in Ontario with regard to business registration and taxation.



Lesson 3

Developing a Business Model for Your Practice

Speaker: Domenic A. Meffe, B. Arch., OAA, RAIC, Assoc. AIA, and OPPI

Intuition and gifted design ability may lead to a successful practice, but this is not enough for a sustainable and profitable practice. A firm’s principal must make innumerable decisions about the practice’s focus and character by determining which; markets, delivering services, means, methods and, most effective resources are necessary to shape what you do in a way that the customer values your services while also being rewarding to your firm.

A firms’ focus, and character is the objective of developing a “business model”. Most firms have shared the same business model for delivering traditional design services for many years. Today the architectural profession is part of an increasingly, fragmented, competitive and complex practice environment. Although you may desire to deliver traditional services in the traditional way, it is important to understand the complexities and anticipate disruption with changing trends affecting your practice. Hence the need to understand the “design science” approach to developing, managing and implementing market changes for a firm’s focus rather than reacting after the fact. This session will examine the 9 (NINE) components to a structured business model and how it can inform your firm’s brand, which encompasses everything from; design sensibilities, the values, marketing, methodology and even behavior of the firm's principal(s).

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understanding what a business model is, and why it’s important
  2. How to develop a business model for an architectural practice using the “design science” approach.
  3. Understanding the relationship between the Business Model and Branding.
  4. Considering startup budgeting for a new practice.



Lesson 4A

Practice Management: Operational Systems – Finance

Speaker: Basima Roshan, MBA, CPA

The effective financial management of a firm relies on establishing a financial system and applying discipline to manage financial resources. This session will help you develop an understanding of the relationships between income and expenses and being cognizant that much of the income of a firm must be set aside for expenses.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the four components of a financial management system in an architectural practice.
  2. Develop a start-up budget for a new architectural practice.
  3. Establish the “book rate” for billable hours.

Lesson 4B

Practice Management: Human Resources

Speaker: Devon Gracey, CHRL 

Building a team that aligns with the firm’s strategic plan, outsourcing opportunities, and core competencies is essential to its success. Those factors inevitably influence the selection, hiring, and training of effective employees. As an employer, you will need to understanding federal and provincial regulations pertaining to employer obligations. Other responsibilities include setting up a human resource management system, employment contracts, and office policies.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Establish key policies and procedures for hiring and employing staff for a new architectural practice.
  2. Knowledge of key federal and provincial regulations associated with the hiring, retention and release of staff.
  3. Describe the features/conditions, benefits and drawbacks of an employment contract.
  4. Develop desirable attributes of small firm culture and methods to sustain that culture.

Lesson 4C

Practice Management: IT

Speaker: Yew-Thong Leong, B.Tech.(Arch.), B.Arch., OAA, FRAIC

There are many factors associated with the selection of technology-based systems that support both practice operations and project management. Other elements to consider includes the stability and service requirements of Information Management Systems, client-server verses cloud-based systems, backup systems, as well as design and production tools.

Learning Objectives:

  1. List choices of hardware and software systems.
  2. Develop an information gathering, organizing the distribution system for the practice.
  3. Establish an acquisition plan for essential technology systems needed by a start-up practice that aligns with a firm’s strategic plan.

Lesson 5A

Project Management: Proposals and Fees

Speaker: Gaby Aviad, MArch

Project systems include those activities of a practice that are based on the life cycle of projects. Unlike ongoing practice operating systems, such as financial management, project systems are temporary in that they come to an end and have a defined, unique outcome. Project systems include project planning, project execution, project control and project closer. Being a project-based industry, by far the majority of a firm’s resources are invested in project activities. The two project activities to be discussed in this lesson are project related marketing, including responding to RFPs, and estimating project resources and analyzing market forces to develop an appropriate and competitive fee.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop a response to a Request-For-Proposals (RFP) for architectural services.
  2. Develop a fee proposal for a prospective project employing a bottom-up fee estimation process and market price comparison.


Lesson 5B

Project Management: Client Agreements

Speaker: Michael Miller, B.Arch., OAA, FRAIC

From the standpoint of practice and project risk management, establishing a system for quickly developing agreements and planning projects sets a solid foundation for firm growth and sustainability.

Learning Objectives

    1. Understand the functions, features, benefits and drawbacks of various client-architect agreements, including Document 6, Document 600 and client-created agreements.
    2. Identify insurable and non-insurable risks on client-architect agreements.

Lesson 5C

Project Management: Project Planning

Speaker: Roberto Chiotti, BES, BARCH, MTS, OAA, FRAIC, LEED AP

This session in project systems explores starting a project on the right foot. Generally speaking, projects that go sour have often done so within the first 30 minutes of getting the commission. This is because there is a rush to get deliverables produced and an aversion to spending time on contracts, planning and other activities that do not, on the surface, generate billable hours.

Learning Objectives

    1. Identify the scope, schedule and cost management plan of a typical building design project.
    2. Develop processes of Quality Assurance and Quality Control in architectural practice design and production operations.
    3. Understand the function and features of a stakeholder engagement management plan.