Bob Borson, over at his blog, Life of an Architect, has written an article outlining the many approaches to agreements between design professionals and their clients. He concisely describes them and makes a case for their comparative strengths and weaknesses.
Here is part of what he has to say about the importance of solid agreements:
"A properly prepared legal agreement between owner and architect will clearly communicate a project’s terms and conditions, determine responsibilities of each party and set expectations for schedule and payment for services. The most successful architectural projects are those where open lines of communication are established, and trust and respect are mutually granted."I wholeheartedly agree.
You can read the entirety of the article here. In spite of the blog's title, the article is written for lay readership; nothing too technical. I would recommend that anyone seeking to undertake a building project read through some of his resources first.