Freelance CAD Job Contract Dos and Don'ts

Freelance CAD contracts range from good standard contracts to complex things of debatable value. The problem with being an expert, as most freelance CAD people know, is that you’re often the delegated "Mr. Fix-it" of all situations, and that’s sometimes written into contracts, or implied. That can cause multiple problems throughout the contract, and it’s to be avoided as far as possible. The best cure for these situations is prevention. It’s useful to know how to spot a problem contract before you get lumbered with it. It’s also important to be able to recognize a good, professionally structured contract on sight.

Freelance CAD Contract Basics

The basic CAD contract is the best example of a properly written contract. Typical features include:

  • Clear descriptions of the work required: No vague terminology which could equate to “anything and everything to do with CAD”. The job specifications will be very straightforward. This is a sign of good clients who know what they’re doing and have taken the time to create good professional standard contracts.
  • Clear definitions of quality and standards: In conjunction with the work description will be terms like “detailing” and other basic definitions of the work required. Much of this looks self explanatory, and may refer to work you obviously need to do, but it’s in the contract to set parameters.
  • May include “payment on acceptance” or other terms: Don’t be put off by these terms. In many standard contracts, particularly on major freelance sites, they’re actually necessary, and required by the sites.
  • Clear terms of payment, method of payment and statement of rates paid: Absolutely essential, these clauses are crystal clear on standard contracts. These terms bind the client to conditions of payment and create the legal framework for your entitlements. 

Do’s and Don’ts for Freelance CAD Contracts

The Do’s and Don’ts are relatively straightforward, but you need to keep your eyes open.


  • Don’t skim contracts. Any contract can be difficult reading. Make sure you’re alert. Read even standard contracts line by line on principle.
  • Don’t assume you understand legal terms. Any legal term or phrase may have a context which you may not understand. If you’re not sure, get advice.
  • Don’t sign anything at all until you’re sure of your position. This is absolutely basic, but if you have any doubts, or there are any unclear issues, signing can be a real mistake.


  • Do be critical of contracts. Any contract with pages of obscure requirements is a bad contract by definition. The basic freelance CAD contract is a contract for a service. It shouldn’t look like a phone book.
  • Do check every aspect of contract terms. If you’re contracting through a website, the site creates basic contracts. You can ask the site for clarification.
  • Do check any “escrow” provisions. Escrow is money held by a third party for payment of contractors. This is simple in theory, but not necessarily in practice. Again, ask for information if unsure.