Co-contracting, the association between architects
Each year, the MAF publishes its edition of “MAF Figures”. In a brochure of about forty pages, the mutual contractor compiles the data collected on the occasion of the Declaration of Professional Activities (DAP). Among the figures on the state of health of the profession, from the type of work carried out to regional dynamism, we discover the evolution of the modes of practice of architects.
Each year, the conclusion is the same: the vast majority of architects tend to group together in the exercise of their functions. In society first. Authorized since 1977 to practice under the regime of companies, whether anonymous (SA) or limited liability (SARL), architects have largely taken this turn: in 2018*, they were 77.2% to come together in a company against 22.8% preferring liberal exercise. In 2010, the balance of power was quite different: they were then 57,32% to prefer the liberal exercise.
Another witness to this growing desire for association: co-contracting. If it is the lightest form, confining collaboration to the conduct of an operation, without legally binding the co-contractors to each other, co-contracting nevertheless remains a witness to the need for association between designers.
Co-contracting, sub-contracting… what are the differences?
Above all, they take root in the same place: in the desire to pool resources to carry out a project. That's about it for what is common between co-contracting and sub-contracting.
The rest is a question of responsibility and the relationship with the client. In the case of the outsourcing, the main contractor concludes a contract with the contracting authority. On this basis, the main contractor then contracts with the subcontractor, the latter being in no way directly linked to the client.
The agent, captain of the team
As his name suggests, he receives a warrant. Coming directly from its co-contracting partners, this mandate enables it to become the sole interlocutor of the contracting authority during the preparation and execution of the site.
Why ? In order to centralize and facilitate the relationship between project owner and project management, but in no case to decide in place of other co-contractors.
The different possible co-contracting schemes
There are 3 possible forms of co-contracting, involving different responsibilities for the co-contractors and the agent.
The joint group
A grouping is joint when each of its members is not engaged only for the work for which he is responsible.
NB: In the event of silence in the contract, the grouping is joint when solidarity – where applicable, that of the sole agent – is not presumed (art. 1310 Civil Code).
The solidarity group
The grouping is solidary when each co-contractor is committed for the entire market and must compensate for any default by one or more members of the group.
The joint group with a joint agent
This form of co-contracting is a sort of hybrid of the two previous ones.
The grouping is joint, but only the agent company is responsible of the entire site vis-à-vis the client.
Advantages and disadvantages of co-contracting
So, is co-contracting a good or a bad option? When it goes to the test bench, one dimension of co-contracting jumps out: it undeniably allows small structures valuable pooling when they go on the attack of substantial calls for tenders.
Without being exhaustive, we can easily attribute to co-contracting:
- The pooling of material, human and financial resources to respond to calls for tenders, hitherto inaccessible,
- The possibility of winning large projects, which, once allotted, allow companies to divide up the tasks
- The opportunity to combine the achievements and site references of each of the co-contractors. This association then offers the opportunity to:
- Find new customers more easily afterwards,
- Improve the image of your company,
- Make yourself known in your industry.
- An expansion of the network and skills, by involving all those of the co-contractors
- Motivation in the face of shared challenges
However, co-contracting can present certain risks, which it is useful to be aware of:
- Economic risk in the event of failure of a company (in the case of the solidarity group),
- Risks of misunderstanding,
- Complex site to manage and which requires good knowledge on the operation of a GME (administrative, accounting, communication with the client, etc.).
Successful co-contracting with OOTI
To facilitate management, OOTI now offers to centralize all billing information in one place. Thereby, from your project monitoring it is now possible to issue and monitor the billing status of the various co-contractors involved in a few clicks, before centralizing this information and transmitting it to your client.
With it, it is the issuance of billing certificates that is automated, and project management that is simplified.
With this new feature, the teams have also developed a feature that will be of particular interest to architects working in public markets: OOTI now updates and updates your invoices or estimates directly according to the current index at the time of editing.
Simpler, more practical, more automatic. More OOTI finally.
*Figures from the 2020 edition of "MAF Figures", relating to work carried out in 2018 and declared in 2019