Working state to state, as an unlicenced designer, the pitfalls & hidden monsters....


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I'm currently licensed in WA state.  So far all my designs are in WA state.


In the olden days, I did my own drawings for design/builds in TX, TN, KY and even a job in Canada.  The drawings were always mine.  I did the framing on-site DBA a corp licensed in TX.  Always legal.


Your topic title makes me think YOU think you have to be licensed in every state you draw projects in/for.  I have no idea.  People order plans from online sources for every state....I'm pretty sure they have that part solved.


I'm interested to see where this thread goes.  Might uncover some good info.

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As an architect you have to be licensed in the state if they require signed/sealed drawings. I only work in NY but I'm prepared for the future with licensing in NJ, CT, and Florida. I work in NY as a DBA but once you start accepting fees in other states you have to file as a DBA there too. Florida has no state income tax, but there are some business entity taxes. Small businesses with less than $25,000 in assets are exempt. But then the local city, like Sarassota south of Tampa I've checked, want you to pay a small business fee. I assume it's to make sure there are no unscrupulous companies out there. A little bit of regulation is a good thing.


People that buy plan book plans are required to have them updated for the local jurisdiction, usually by a licensed architect from that state. This excludes municipalities that don't need signed/sealed drawings but these are disappearing. None of these plan book plans are ready for California codes, south Florida high wind codes, the multitudes of different energy code requirements, or frost depths for foundations.


Then you have the Federal Income Tax side.....your not required to file income taxes on less than $10,000 of income. How this would be affected by multi-state income is up to interpretation. I don't think the exemption applies to Corporations or LLP's. Just sole proprietor and DBA but I could be wrong.


I have a retired IRS agent do my books so he knows a lot of in and outs, but he's super conservative to ensure there are no surprise audits. My business friends try to get away with ALOT more.



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I have projects that I have done literally all over the world or projects that were built elsewhere than the USA. In each case, the projects now stand from Tokyo to South Korea, South Africa, England, Russia, South America, Australia, Mexico, and Canada, as well as many States of the USA. In each case, the plans were shared with a local licensed Engineer before applying for a permit. Most of the time my name is not even on the plans. I mainly help others arrive at plans using Chief Architect Premier or Home Designer Pro. I like to do this and do not feel in any way diminished by it. I like helping others while helping myself.




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Dave is describing whats called, hiring a local architect or engineer to sign/seal the drawings so they become the "Architect/Engineer of Record". Almost ever big box/chain store does this. They have their own architects work on the prototype building and then they farm it out to a local guy that is more knowledgeable with local codes and building departments. It also relieves you of a lot of the liability.


My friend does most of the Starbucks in my area. Another friend was doing some Dunkin Donuts for a short time. Last year I was approached by a North Carolina donuts company to do local donut shops.

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Thanks again,


I'm mainly single-family residential.


Working across state lines, rather than making sure my drawings are code-compliant, I'm looking more at the tax laws and business licensing aspect.

I think I have the code part pretty well figured, and can hire local professionals to accomplish the unmanageable.


I just want to know what I'm getting into, before I get into it.


If I travel to another state, sit down with a client, design their home, return to my home state, draw the plans......I believe I'm supposed to have business license in the other state, where I'm drawing the plans for, as well as license in my home state.....and what about tax laws? I only report in my home state?...or do I need to report the income earned in the state where the job is...I just want to be certain of reg's before making decisions....





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my primary working area was DC metro which included DC and MD and VA


I lived in VA


while I visited client in each of the locales and worked with builders from each of the locales

we were sub-contractors paid via 1099


we are not architects, just designers - the builders signed and submitted the permit sets


my office (home) was in VA and I paid VA taxes and Fed taxes


my partner lived in NY and I paid him and he paid NY and Fed taxes







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