September 16, 2020 13 min read 12 Comments


We often hear other architects complain about the ‘uneducated client’, and we can all relate to it.  The “Inception Document” was developed as a template that can assist both architects and clients to understand the full scope of the project at hand.  It has only been tested on smaller projects (less than R5million rand), it has proven its worth with additions and alterations, specifically.  The document is a work in progress and must be adapted extensively for each project, but it is a sensible base to start from.

The document is compiled after the first meeting with the client.  The framework of the document serves as an agenda and touches on the topics that must be discussed.

This document does not replace the standard PROCSA or SAIA CAA appointments, but it covers many risks before the contracts are actually signed.

An invoice is sent to the client for the compilation of the document.  The recommended fee to charge for the document is between R2500 and R5000 if you spend a morning on it – but if you had to spend hours and hours collecting information in order to complete the document, then charge accordingly.

The client then has a document he can use in the future. He can go to another architect, present the document and the architect can partially remove Inception from their fees.


This document is freely available in Word format, please contact me if you need it: or phone me at 082 470 0342.  Please send any comments you may have on the document, as it is a work in progress.

Please note that all text in italics has been included as example text and MUST be edited before re-using.



House …………………..- Stage 1: Inception

  1. Introduction

This document was compiled after a consultations held with …………………………………(client) on ……………………..(date), on site.

The aim of the document is to act as guideline to the …………………… Family on how to proceed with their prospective building project in a cost effective and efficient manner.

  1. The client’s brief

The brief was to design and compile a complete set of drawings for council submission and approval.  All the work would be done in one phase.

The following changes were required:

Priority 1:

The existing drawings of the structure had to be converted into electronic documents.

Priority 2:

A set of sketch plans to be compiled from the drawings made by the client.  These changes include:

  • A proposal to remove the low ceiling at the front door.
  • The guest bathroom, at the front door, to be enlarged.
  • A new timber double front door to be installed.
  • Several internal walls to be demolished to create large open, living space. The entire living area to have exposed trusses – ceilings to be removed.
  • Large folding stacking doors to be installed on the north and west facades.
  • A complete new kitchen and scullery to be fitted…


  1. The site and rights and constraints

The site constraints summarised were compiled from the existing drawings the owner had in his possession.

The approved building plans to be obtained from the City Council upon council submission of the building file.  .

  1. Erf details: Erf ………………………….., Address:  …………………………..
  2. Building lines: The only clear building line, from the available documentation was the ten feet building line from the street.  No encroachment applications were anticipated, but would be addressed as and when required.
  3. Title deed: All work must be completed as one phase – can’t be left for completion at a later stage…
  4. Zoning Certificate – to be obtained by council administrator
  5. SG Diagram – to be obtained by the council administrator


  1. Budgetary constraints

A provisional Bill of Quantities to be compiled by an appointed PQS.  The work would go out on tender.

It was explained to the client that a very elementary estimate was often done by working with R12 500/m² for new building area and R6500/m² for changes to existing structures.  This rate typically includes smart mid- to higher range finishes. 


  1. The need for consultants

The following consultants to be appointed:

  1. a) Architect: …………………………… (SACAP Registered Professional Architect) to be appointed to provide a design and sign off on the drawings.  A professional architect is required, by law, to take responsibility for building projects.  ………………………… is appointed to do sketch plan proposals on an hourly basis (R0000 per hour) and to check the drawings once the draftsman has compiled it and then sign off the drawings, taking professional responsibility for the work.  For a proper design of this scale at least……………………….hours of design would be required (this includes confirmation that the draftsman’s drawings were, in fact, correct).  After construction has been completed the aim would be to get an Occupation Certificate.  This certificate could only be obtained if the registered architect signs Form 3 and 4, ensuring that the building was actually built according to the originally approved building plans.  In order for …………………………………………to do this, there could be no changes made to the approved building plans.  Should changes be made during construction, “As-Built” drawings would have to be submitted and only then would he be able to sign the necessary documents that would enable the client to apply for an Occupation Certificate.  At the end of the project the architect would then do an inspection, on site, and sign the required documents.
  2. b) Draftsman – A draftsman to be approached for all the draftsmen duties. The draftsman to compile the full set of drawings including plans, sections, elevations, schedules and details where required.  The SANS 10400XA calculations are also included in his fee, but checked and confirmed by the professional architect.
  3. c) Council administrator/runner – ………………………………… to be appointed for R…………………, excluding all submission fees, encroachment fees and other application fees.
  4. d) Structural Engineer – an engineer to be appointed to sign off the council submission drawings. Furthermore an engineer would be approached for the design of several of the construction elements including the cantilever canopy, boundary wall, etc.

The following consultants could be required later, but will not be appointed now:

  1. e) Storm water engineer – Council could require a storm water engineer to do a design and drawing for submission – the engineer’s fee is not included in the estimates.
  2. f) Landscape Architect – Council could require a landscape architect to do a design and drawing for submission – the landscape architect’s fee is not included in the estimates.



  1. Professional Indemnity Insurance (PI).               

The design architect,……………….., (name and SACAP number)  is a registered professional architect at the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP).  He has Professional Indemnity Insurance and takes responsibility for the design and will also sign the required documents after construction (only if everything was built as per the drawings) that would enable the client to obtain an Occupation Certificate (OC).  The OC is the document required by the bank and your insurance company should you have a claim.



  1. Proposed Actions

Action items abbreviations:

The existing structure to be electronically documented (AS).

  1. The design proposal to be prepared according to the client’s requirements detailed above (AS).
  2. The sketch plans to be presented to the client for comments (ME,AE)
  3. c) The sketch plans to be reworked until approved (AS, ME, AE).
  4. The documentation to be completed for council submission (AS).
  5. All the necessary signatures to be obtained on the drawings i.e. engineer, client, ‘seller (ME; AS)
  6. f) Council submission (AS).
  7. AS can assist you in the process of obtaining prices, evaluating contractors and appointing a contractor. The suggestion is to cap the time spent at 25 hours and inform the client if this cap is almost reached and reach a new agreement at the time.  This would include circulating the necessary documentation to appropriate contractors, dealing with all their questions and evaluating their prices and making a recommendation on who to appoint.  Please note that this is usually done by a Professional Quantity Surveyor, it therefore falls outside an architect’s standard scope of work.
  8. For the management of the construction process I suggest you appoint an expert to facilitate the building contract. I have attached a document detailing the different options. 

We can reach an agreement on this once the contractor has been appointed and we know his capabilities of managing site matters.


  1. Proposed project programme
    1. a) Scope defined and design architect appointed             29 May 2017
    2. b) Documentation of the existing structure        29 May – 5 June 2017
    3. c) Initial sketch plans                                                   5-19 June 2017
    4. d) Sketch plan presentation to client                               20 June 2017
    5. e) Rework comments by client                                   20-27 June 2017
    6. f) Client approval of sketch plans                                   30 June 2017
    7. g) Documentation – preparation of council documents   31 July 2017
    8. h) Client to sign all necessary documents                  1-4 August 2017
    9. i) Council submission                                                    7 August 2017
    10. j) Council Approval                                                  End October 2017
    11. k) Civil work start                                                    1 September 2017
    12. l) Construction start                                                    9 January 2018
    13. m) Construction                                                           end April 2018

Please note that this is a draft program only, where many assumptions were made.  Even though one could do everything in one’s power to facilitate the plan approval process at the City Council, it remains a government institution where delays are inevitable and uncontrollable.  You will continuously be updated with regards to the approval process.



  1. Methods of contracting

I would definitely recommend you enter into a formal contract with the appointed contractor. The JBCC Principal Building Agreement would work well, even at this scale.  Alternatively the Master Builder SA contract could be considered.

Furthermore I am obliged, according to my governing body, SACAP, to enter into a formal agreement with you.  I recommend we use the Standard Client Architect Agreement (CAA) or PROCSA.

Furthermore I have to point out to you that you are protected by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession and should conflict occur between ourselves there are standard procedures that could be followed to address any dispute through mediation or arbitration.  Similarly termination of this agreement is also prescribed by SACAP.  Let me know if you need information in this regard.

  1. Council submission

The following documents to be prepared and signed for the building plan submission to the City of Tshwane. NBAll documents must be original or a certified copy

  • SANS 10400 forms completed in full (this would be done by your architect)
  1. Original signature and all detail of registered owner (as on title deed)
  2. Architect’s detail, original signature and registration number.
  3. Total area to be built (Gross), hand written on first page.
  4. Engineers and owner to fill out form 2 (This is why we need an engineer).
  • Certified copy of current title deed (draft not acceptable). Please have this ready so I can collect it when I bring the drawings and submission documents for signatures prior to submission.
  • Certified copy of the subdivision diagram – N/A
  • Approved land use rights: This will be obtained by the “runner” – the person administering the council submission and circulation.
  • Original zoning certificate stamped by council: This will be obtained by the “runner” – the person administering the council submission and circulation.
  • Annexure B with number as allocated by council: This will be obtained by the “runner” – the person administering the council submission and circulation.
  • Approved and stamped SG diagram. This will be obtained by the “runner” – the person administering the council submission and circulation.
  • Sewerage connection diagram registered and signed by water and sanitation inspector: This will be obtained by the “runner” – the person administering the council submission and circulation.
  • Certified copy of most recent services account. Please have this document ready so I can collect it when I bring the building plans and other documents for signature.
  • Original power of attorney forms from:
    1. Registered owner to architect – I will bring it when we sign the drawings for council submission
    2. Registered owner to consultant – I will bring it when we sign the drawings for council submission
  • Inter partite agreement between owner and neighbour, where application for encroachments are submitted. Neighbours must sign all plans. I will let you know if this is required, there is no reason for it at the moment.
  • The following signatures must be on the drawings:
    1. Registered owner
    2. Architect
    3. Geologist – only applicable in Centurion
    4. Neighbours (where inter partite is necessary) – not applicable
    5. Engineer
  • SACAP form signed by architect and owner – I will bring it along with the rest of the submission documents



  1. Standard Architectural Service

Below is a summary of the standard architectural service.  I include this in the document so the client can consider exactly what service they require and are willing to pay for.  The full architectural service would always be beneficial to the building project, but often budgetary constraints result in customised services.

The following services are stipulated in the Architectural Act:



Stage 1: INCEPTION (5%)

Receive, appraise and report on the Client’s requirements with particular regard to:

  • The Client’s brief
  • The site and rights and constraints
  • Budgetary constraints
  • The need to appoint consultants
  • Project programme
  • Methods of contracting

All of these have been addressed in this document



  1. Prepare an initial design and advice on:

The intended space provisions and planning relationships

Proposed material and intended building services

The technical and functional characteristics of the design

  1. Check for conformity of the concept with the rights to the use of the land
  2. c) Review the anticipated costs of the project
  3. d) Review the project programme



  1. a) Confirm the scope and complexity
  2. b) Review the design and consult with local and statutory authorities
  3. c) Develop the design, construction system, materials and components
  4. d) Incorporate all services and the work of consultants
  5. e) Review the design, costing and programme with the consultants



  1. Prepare documentation sufficient for local authority submission:
  • Co-ordinate technical documentation with the consultants
  • And complete primary co-ordination
  • Prepare specifications for the works
  • Evaluate offers and recommend on the award of the building contract
  • Prepare the contract documentation (and arrange the signing of the building contract)


Stage 5: CONSTRUCTION (Contract Administration) (27%)

  1. a) Hand over the site to the contractor
  2. b) Issue construction documentation
  3. c) Initiate and/or check sub-contract design and documentation as appropriate
  4. d) Administer and perform the duties and obligations assigned to the principle agent in the JBCC building agreements, or fulfil the obligations provided for in other forms of the contract
  5. e) Issue the certificate of practical completion
  6. f) Assist the client to obtain the occupation certificate.


Stage 6: CLOSE OUT (3%)

  1. Fulfill and complete the project close-out including the preparation of the necessary documentation to facilitate the effective completion, handover and operation of the project.
  2. After the contractor’s obligations with respect to the building contract after fulfilled, the architect shall issue the certificates related to contract completion.
  3. Provide the client with as-built drawings and relevant technical and contractual undertakings by the contractor and sub-contractors.



Architectural fees for a full service appointment, is calculated as a percentage of final building cost (excluding VAT)

This section is included to indicate to the client the value of this process, indicating what the cost would have been if the services was being obtained without going through a proper information and advising process.

On building cost of R1,800,000 the architectural professional fees for the full service, according to the South African Council for the Architectural Profession should be R244,750.00. 



Work stage 1 5% of total fee R 12 237.50

Work stage 2 15% of total fee R 36 712.50

Work stage 3 – 20% of total fee R 48 950.00

Work stage 4.1 – 20% of total fee R 48 950.00

Work stage 4.2 – 10% of total fee R 24 475.00

Work stage 5 – 27% of total fee R 66 082.50

Work stage 6 – 3% of total fee R 7 342.50

Total 100% R 244 750.00


  1. Quote details

The submitted quote was customised to suit the client’s specific needs. The quote includes the following:

  1. Complete set of council drawings (two sets as required by Council), including site plan, floor plans, sections, elevations and area schedules.
  2. Preparation of all council submission documentation (all relevant documents to be completed, signed and delivered to the client in hard copy).
  3. SANS 10400 XA calculations and report, as required by the National Building Regulations.
  4. Administering the process of Council Submission and approval – runner fees excluded.
  5. Disbursements (travel and printing costs)


  1. Exclusions and Risks

The following items were excluded from the quotation:

  1. All council fees. These include, amongst others, submission fees (R00.00/m²), relaxation application fees, etc.
  2. Site Development Plan – no allowance was made to do a SDP – this should not be a requirement from Council.
  3. Special consent applications or additional fees required by Council i.e. Fire Department Approvals, Special Consent, Removals of Restrictions, etc.


The following are items that could possibly delay the construction process.  None of these are currently foreseen, but the client is made aware so there won’t be any surprizes in the future.

  1. The proposed program is only indicative and will be updated as the project progresses.
  2. There could be information on the zoning certificate, SG diagram or other council documents that is not currently known, that could restrict the possibilities.
  3. It is always to the benefit of the client to appoint a full professional team. It is often not done, to save the costs.  The client just need to take note of the risks involved.
  4. Because the project consist of additions and alterations, many assumptions are made while documenting the project, there would always be a risk that some of the assumptions were incorrect.
  5. Also, because one is working from existing drawings, some of the information on the drawings might be incorrect and will only be discovered once the contractor is on site. These risks cannot be identified or quantified before construction.
  6. The client must take note that the risk lies with him if undocumented services are damaged during construction.
  7. The Health & Safety responsibility remains that of the property owner during construction, therefore the contractors are required to meet all the H&S standards as described by law. The client must demand that these standards are met at all times.


  1. Attachments

Find attached to this document the following:

  1. The SACAP standard service fees diagram.
  2. The quotation for design and administering the plan approval process (City of Tshwane).
  3. Quotation for Building Contract coordination.
  4. Invoice for the compilation of this document.



Signed: Client

This document was compiled by Anneke Schriek

Registered Professional Architect at the South African Council for the Architectural Profession                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              082 470 0342 //



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April 25, 2021


Msizi Mkhize
Msizi Mkhize

December 04, 2020

Dear Anneke, 

I have just completed one of your CPD Courses #2, This was a very informative course. I especially enjoyed the interviews with professionals and the types of questions you ask are so relevant to someone like me who wants to start an architectural business. I have learned so much already. In order for me to apply some of this knowledge could really use some of your templates/ standard Documents as this will assist me so much when engaging with my clients.

1.  Inception document, I need a document that will summarize all the stages, budget, Client architect agreement and how to put together a project programme which can be signed by the client to show their commitment. This will assist me so much as I am very frustrated with a potential client who just wants to produce Council drawings for him with-out understanding how we work and we charge fees. He has used a technologist in the past and barely under the process and I need to educate him of how we work. So that I am not pressed to simply just produce Council drawings for him. 
Please assist me in this regard, I also have other questions and I believe you can help me because you may understand my frustration as an architect who is just starting out. I have no experience in dealing with clients and needs tips on how to approach them and guide them without being exploited timewise and moneywise. I’ve turned to your websites last resort because I don’t have access to an experienced architect who can guide me through this process. I feel like I can offer a great service if I can get advice and the correct templates. 

Kind Regards 
Msizi Mkhize.

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