AIA Releases 2007 Update to Contract Documents

5 Nov, 2007

Feedback from industry has resulted in changes to 40 revised, updated, or new documents including new owner/architect agreements.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) yesterday introduced its 2007 update to AIA Contract Documents. The organization reported that the update pertains particularly to its A201 family of documents and included input from owners, contractors, attorneys, architects, and engineers. The update pertains to 40 revised, updated, or new documents including new owner/architect agreements.

"We are very grateful to the industry for candidly sharing hundreds of comments -- these provided the feedback we needed to address all parties' concerns," said Suzanne Harness, managing director and counsel, AIA Contract Documents. "AIA documents are the most respected and widely used in the design and construction industry. We think that's because we provide a winning combination: agreements that fairly balance the interests of contracting parties and easy-to-use software that delivers documents in Microsoft Word."

The AIA updates the A201 family on a 10-year cycle to reflect changes in industry trends and practices. The organization reports that significant changes were made to A201 because it forms the relationship between the owner, contractor, and architect. Changes include the following:

  • Removal of Mandatory Arbitration: Parties are no longer required to resolve disputes through arbitration. The 2007 update now offers arbitration as an option; however, if no option is specifically selected, the default procedure is litigation.

  • Consolidation of Arbitrations: New provisions allow for the architect and his or her consultants, the owner, the contractor, and subcontractors to participate in one multiparty arbitration, as long as certain conditions are met.

  • Initial Decision Maker (IDM): Previous versions of the documents assigned the architect the role of serving as a neutral party to decide disputes between the owner and contractor. The update provides the owner and contractor with the opportunity to hire a third-party IDM for dispute resolution. The architect remains as the default if an IDM is not identified in the contract.

  • Statute of Limitations: The revised A201 designates that the time limit for commencing claims is determined by state law; however, this time limit cannot be longer than 10 years after substantial completion of the project.

  • Additional Insured Provisions: Project management protective liability insurance is deleted and substituted with a practice that has become common in the industry, naming the owner, architect, and the architect's consultants as additional insureds under the contractor's general liability policy.

  • Right to Financial Information: The update limits the contractor's right to request financial information from the owner after work commences and events occur that would lead to concern about the owner's ability to pay. The revisions also allow the owner a greater opportunity to learn of contractor/subcontractor payment problems and address a contractor's failure to pay a subcontractor by allowing the owner to write joint checks.

The 2007 Update also retires B14-1997, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect, and B151-1997, Abbreviated Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect, and merges their content to create B101-2007, a one-part document for traditional design and construction contract administration services. B101-2007 returns to the concept of "basic" and "additional" services, clearly laying out the architect's services during five phases: schematic design, design development, construction documents, bidding/negotiations, and construction contract administration.

B101 also requires the architect to discuss with the owner the use of environmentally responsible design approaches (sustainable design) in the project and to incorporate approaches, such as building orientation and material choices, when creating the design. While the level of sustainable design that will be incorporated into the project is ultimately the owner's decision, B101-2007 provides a platform for architects to introduce the option of environmentally responsible design to the owner.

The 2007 Update also includes two other new owner/architect agreements: B103-2007, an owner/architect agreement for large, complex projects, and B104-2007, for projects of a limited scope. These agreements follow the model B101-2007, but add to or subtract from B101's terms to create agreements that are tailored to different project sizes. Both B101-2007 and B103-2007 incorporate A201-2007, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. B104-2007 incorporates A107-2007, an owner/contractor agreement for a project of limited scope. A107-2007 is now modified for use with three types of payment: stipulated sum, cost-plus-a-fee, and cost-plus-a-fee with a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP).

AIA also established a new numbering system for its documents, which is designed to provide consistency in document numbering and establishes a meaning for each number. While the documents maintain a letter to denote the agreement parties, the first letter indicates the type of agreement or form (e.g., prime or subcontract), the second number identifies the family, and the third number indicates sequence. For example, A141-2004 is a prime agreement in the design-build family and is the first document in the sequence.

AIA Contract Documents are available in paper form and electronically in AIA Contract Documents software. The software generates customizable Microsoft Word files. The existing 1997 documents will continue to be available until May 31, 2009, to allow contracting parties to transition to the 2007 versions.

Complete information about AIA Contract Documents, including software downloads, demos, purchasing and renewal information, and distributors, is available on the AIA Web site.