You are within the limits to go to small claim court (up to $10,000) and the filing fee of only $75. The main disadvantage will be that you will have a very limited time (sometimes less than 5 minutes) to convince a Judge that the architect owes you the $9,000 or some money; that is your responsibility, prove up your case. There will be no discovery for you to be able to gather information to prove up your case before the trial day. The main advantage is that you will see a judge in about 30 to 45 days.
In the other hand, any case in superior court will take some time to reach to the trial level, sometimes more than a year and may not be that attractive to either you or counsel for the amount in litigation.
You should call an attorney in the area and you may get some help in pursuing your claim. Good luck.
Yes, hire a real estate or construction law attorney to straighten this out for you. There are way too many facts to describe on Avvo. You could be within the limits for a small claims court case or a regular civil case.
Nick Spirtos is in Santa Monica and handles cases throughout Southern California. I don't know if he'd be willing to represent you although call and ask. His profile is on Avvo.