Granby, CO asked in Business Formation for Colorado

Q: I have a masters degree in architecture and have not taken my licensing exams. can i use "architectural designer" title

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin Michael Strait
Kevin Michael Strait
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: In Colorado, the state government regulates the license of architects through the Department of Regulatory Agencies, under the division of Architect, Engineer and Land Surveyor licenses. There are regulations for architects under C.R.S. § 12-120-401 et seq. Most relevant to you are the laws § 12-120-403 (exceptions to needing a license) and § 12-120-405 (discipline for unlicensed practice).

The code makes an exception for persons performing architect-like services if the service is for a residential building of four dwellings or less, garages and industrial buildings used by less than ten people at a time, cosmetic changes to a building, interior design tasks that are not structural or mechanical in nature.

The code identifies punishable offenses as well. False or fraudulent use of a license or seal, practice beyond one's skill, and endangering the public are all punishable. Specifically, read parts "f" and "q" from § 12-120-405, which state the "use of false, deceptive, or misleading advertising" and "engaging in conduct that is intended or reasonably might be expected to mislead the public into believing that the person is an architect" are punishable under the law.

The title "architectural designer" rust a risk of a credible case against you where a member of the public reasonably believes you are a licensed architect. You seem to be running a risk of violating § 12-120-405(q) since a reasonable person in the public might become legitimately confused. Even though your intentions are good and you are not stamping and signing drawings claiming to be an architect, the law is written to protect the public from employment titles that "reasonably might be expected to mislead the public." For you to use the "architectural designer" title leaves you at risk of violating § 12-120-405(q).

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