How the revised AIA Contract Documents will affect your practice

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Architects who use AIA Contract Documents can take advantage of 2017's revisions to the core set of AIA's contracts and forms.

Every 10 years, AIA Contract Documents are reviewed and updated; find out what changes are in store for 2017

To keep up with industry trends and important court decisions, every 10 years AIA Contract Documents are reviewed and updated. This year, the new revised core set of AIA contracts and forms will be released at AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 (A'17).

Changes to the 2017 documents that will affect architects include a single Sustainable Project Exhibit that can be added to any AIA document to address the risks and responsibilities associated with sustainable projects; new agreements containing a fill point to prompt the parties to discuss and insert an appropriate “termination fee” for terminations for convenience; and an added evaluation provision by the architect if the contractor proposes an alternative means and methods.

“It is critically important that architects learn about the 2017 revisions,” says Kenneth Cobleigh, Esq., managing director and counsel of AIA Contract Documents. “Many of them impact the role and responsibilities of the architect directly. Others directly impact the roles and responsibilities of the owner and the contractor, and the architect will need to understand those impacts in order to provide advice to the owner and to adequately perform contract administration services. We hope that all architects, and other industry participants, take advantage of the significant written resources and education programming opportunities available to learn about, and understand, the 2017 revisions and the full portfolio of AIA Contract Documents.”

The document that will affect architects the most is B101™-2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect. B101–2017 now allows the parties to indicate whether the architect will be compensated based on a stipulated sum, a percentage of the owner’s budget for the cost of the work, or on some “other” basis. If compensation is based on a “percentage basis,” the parties assign a percentage figure to each phase of basic services. Progress payments for each phase of basic services are calculated by multiplying the percentages by the owner’s most recent budget for the cost of the work. Compensation paid in previous progress payments is not adjusted to take into account subsequent updates to the owner’s budget. When compensation is on a percentage basis and any portions of the project are deleted or otherwise not constructed, the architect is entitled to compensation for those portions to the extent services are performed.

“It is critically important that architects learn about the 2017 revisions.” - Kenneth Cobleigh, Esq., managing director and counsel of AIA Contract Documents

Additionally, provisions related to the owner’s decision to terminate the agreement for the owner’s convenience now prompt the parties to discuss an appropriate termination fee to compensate the architect for costs associated with the termination, such as lost overhead or profit on unperformed services. B101–2017 also now provides that if the owner requires the architect to modify the construction documents—and the bids or proposals exceed the budget due to market conditions the architect could not reasonably have anticipated—the architect is to be compensated for those modifications as an additional service.

Introducing the Sustainable Projects Exhibit

Finally, the Documents Committee developed the E204™–2017, Sustainable Projects Exhibit. In a single document, E204 sets forth the roles and responsibilities for each of the project participants. Once the owner determines that the project will involve a sustainable objective, E204–2017 will be incorporated into the owner-architect and owner-contractor agreements, and incorporated as appropriate into each of the other project agreements.

Here is a complete list of 2017 owner/architect agreements being released:

  • B101-2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect
  • B102™-2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect without a Predefined Scope of Architect's Services
  • B103™-2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect for a Complex Project
  • B104™-2017, Standard Abbreviated Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect
  • B105™-2017, Standard Short Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect

Other documents directly related to the architect's services include:

  • C401™-2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Architect and Consultant
  • E204-2017, Sustainable Projects Exhibit

With a total of 37 documents being released this year, the first set will be released at A’17 and the second set will be released in the fall.

In 1888, the AIA’s first standard form of agreement between an owner and contractor, the Uniform Contract, was published. Since then, AIA Contract Documents have expanded to include coordinated sets of standard form agreements covering every major delivery method, and specialized forms and exhibits, which address specifics of a project. Ever since its beginning in 1887, the AIA Documents Committee, licensed architects, and members of the AIA have dedicated time to create and revise AIA Contract Documents.

Learn more about the revised Contract Documents at aiacontracts.org. Find out how the 2017 contract revisions may impact your practice by registering for a free webinar on May 11 from 2-3pm. Sign up for free samples of the 2017 owner/architect agreements, including the new Sustainable Project Exhibit.

Caitlin Sweeney is a specialist in AIA's Global Innovation Marketing & Education department.

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