Contract DocumentsContract Documents
In the fourth quarter of 2007 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released a revised version of AIA Document A201™–1997, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction, and the owner/architect and owner/contractor agreements that rely on it (A201 Family). The AIA periodically revises AIA Contract Documents, generally on a ten-year cycle. The AIA’s goal in revising documents every ten years is to maintain state-of-the-art legal documents that reflect industry trends and practices, and balance the interests of the parties on the construction project.
To begin the document revision process, the AIA solicited initial industry feedback on the 1997 A201 Family from more than a dozen owner, engineer, attorney and contractor groups. The AIA Documents Committee and AIA staff attorneys with the assistance of outside counsel, thoroughly addressed the comments received and, in several cases, met in person with industry representatives to clarify their positions. First drafts of revised documents were sent out for review by the same organizations that provided initial feedback. After reviewing and discussing the comments received on the first drafts, the AIA sent out a second set of drafts and repeated the process. In early 2007, the Documents Committee approved final language for A201™–2007. The approval of A201 paved the way for approval of the remainder of the owner/contractor, owner/architect, architect/consultant, and contractor/subcontractor agreements in the A201 Family.
Hundreds of industry comments revealed the following significant issues in A201–1997, all of them related to dispute resolution: the architect’s initial decision on claims, arbitration, consolidation of arbitrations, time limit on claims, consequential damages, and additional insured provisions. Other issues concerned financial matters: the owner’s right to obtain information about the contractor’s payments to subcontractors and to remedy non-payment, and the right of the contractor to obtain financial assurances from the owner. In cost-plus owner/contractor agreements, issues concerned “related party” transactions, and cost-of-the-work reimbursements. For owner/architect agreements, the industry shared the following concerns, in addition to A201 issues such as the architect’s initial decision, arbitration and the time limit on claims: document format, insurance, the architect’s standard of care, sustainable design, and ownership of the architect’s instruments of service.