Co-contracting, the Collaboration Between Architects

Understand the advantages and disadvantages of this type of collaboration.

Co-contracting, the Collaboration Between Architects

Every year, MAF (Mutuelle des Architectes Français) publishes its edition of "Chiffres MAF" (MAF Figures). In a forty-page brochure, the mutual insurance company compiles data collected from the Declaration of Professional Activities (DAP). Among the figures on the state of the profession, the typology of work carried out, and regional dynamics, we discover the evolution of architects' modes of practice.

Every year, the observation remains the same: architects, in their vast majority, tend to collaborate in the exercise of their functions. Firstly, in the form of companies. Since 1977, architects have been authorized to operate under the corporate regime, whether they are anonymous (SA) or limited liability (SARL) companies, and they have widely embraced this direction. In 2018*, 77.2% of architects formed companies, while 22.8% preferred to practice as freelancers. In 2010, the balance was quite different: 57.32% preferred freelancing.

Another indication of this growing trend towards collaboration is co-working. Although it represents the most flexible form of collaboration, limited to joint operations without any legal obligations between co-workers, co-contracting still reflects the need for association among designers.

Co-contracting and Sub-contracting... What Are the Differences?

First and foremost, they both originate from the desire to pool resources to carry out a project. However, this is where the commonalities end between co-contracting and sub-contracting.

The rest relates to responsibility and the relationship with the project owner. In the case of sub-contracting, the main contractor enters into a contract with the project owner. Based on this agreement, the main contractor then contracts with the sub-contractor, who is not directly linked to the project owner.

The Mandate, Captain of the Team

As the name implies, the mandatary receives a mandate directly from their co-contracting partners. This mandate allows them to become the sole intermediary between the project owner during both the preparation and execution of the project.

Why? To centralize and facilitate the relationship between the project owner and the project management, but not to replace the other co-workers in any way.

Different Possible Co-contracting Arrangements

There are three possible forms of co-contracting, each involving different responsibilities for co-workers and the mandatary.

  1. Joint Venture Group
    A group is joint when each member is only committed to the tasks assigned to them.Note: In case of silence in the contract, the group is considered joint as long as there is no presumption of solidarity, particularly for the mandatary (Article 1310 of the Civil Code).
  2. Solidarity Group:
    The group is solidary when each co-worker is committed to the entire project and must compensate for any potential failure of one or more group members.
  3. Joint Venture Group with a Solidary Mandatary:
    This form of co-working is a hybrid of the two previous ones. The group is joint, but only the mandatary company is responsible for the entire project in relation to the project owner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Co-contracting

So, is co-contracting a good or bad option? When put to the test, one aspect of co-working becomes evident: it undeniably allows smaller firms to pool resources effectively when competing for substantial tenders.


  • Mutualization of material, human, and financial resources to respond to previously unattainable tenders.
  • Opportunity to secure large projects that, once divided, allow firms to share tasks.
  • Association of accomplishments and project references from each co-worker, making it easier to find new clients, enhance the company's image, and gain recognition in the sector.
  • Broadening the network and skills by combining those of all co-workers.
  • Increased motivation when facing shared challenges.


  • Economic risk in case of failure of one company (in the case of a solidarity group).
  • Risk of disagreements.
  • Complex project management, requiring good knowledge of GME (administrative, accounting, client communication, etc.).

Succeed in Co-Contracting with OOTI

To facilitate co-working management, OOTI now offers the centralized management of all billing information in one place. From your project tracking, it is now possible to issue and monitor billing status for various co-workers involved in just a few clicks before centralizing this information and transmitting it to your project owner.

With OOTI, attestation of billing is automated, and project management is simplified. With this new feature, the OOTI team has also developed a functionality that will be particularly interesting for architects working in public contracts: OOTI now updates and revises your invoices or quotes directly according to the current index at the time of editing.

Simpler, more practical, more automated. That's OOTI in the end.

*Figures from the 2020 edition of "Chiffres MAF," covering works carried out in 2018 and reported in 2019." 

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