As a construction lawyer experienced in reviewing and drafting construction contracts, I would offer my support of the AIA’s recommendation that architect adopt use of the AIA form of agreement. Having practiced law in this area for over 30 years, I would agree with comments made by the American Institute of Architects that the AIA contract documents represent the product of a consensus building process aimed at balancing the interests of all parties in the construction project.
A number of attorneys representing owners have written that the AIA documents favor the architect’s interest too much. However, based on a more careful review of the legal authorities supporting claims against architects in general, although the language in the owner-architect agreement does closely represent the preferences of architects when they approach the practice of architecture, the contracts essentially correspond to an architect’s basic standard of care and practice.
By way of general comment, whereas the 1997 owner-architect agreement had two parts, splitting the basic services into part 1 and the additional services into part 2, the 2007 AIA agreement is a one-part agreement. In addition, the numbering has changed from B141 Parts 1 and 2 in the 1997 edition, to B101. Next, the 2007 edition returns the agreement to the traditional division of services to the basic and then additional services.
The basic services in the 2007 edition are broken down into the five traditional phases as follows:
Schematic Design Design Development Construction Documents Bidding or Negotiation Construction UNDERSTANDING COST ESTIMATES The next general comment is that the 2007 newly-renumbered B101 assumes that the architect will provide cost estimates and will design the project to meet the owner’s budget for the cost of the work. As before, the 2007 edition of the B101 is intended to be used in conjunction with the AIA document A201 or the general conditions agreement between the general contractor and the owner.
Based on the foregoing, it does appear that the 2007 edition is possibly more user friendly to architect and prospective client, since all of the provisions between the architect and owner are in one part, rather than two.
THE ARCHITECT’S ROLE DURING CONSTRUCTION One last general comment also goes to presenting the agreement to make it easier overall to understand. The 1997 B141 separate agreement that was called “Part 2,” which describes the architect’s role during construction when the architect is hired to perform contract administration, has now been renumbered as B201, and replaces the Part 2 of the 1997 edition. The re-numbering helps the parties keep the “family” of AIA agreements organized and understood, since the “B201” or architect “during construction” services, corresponds to the owner-contractor “A201” general conditions document as well. To illustrate this point further, the B201 from 2007 is not a stand-alone document, and to become effective, it must be incorporated into the owner architect general agreement. Therefore, it can be used with other architect owner agreements other than the basic form. The 2007 B201 is therefore intended to be used in conjunction with AIA document A201 or the general conditions document between the contractor and owner.
COMING NEXT In the next edition of this series on the AIA architect contracts, I will list the more important detail changes in the main agreement, and the third of my series will identify the changes between the two editions when the owner hires an architect to perform construction administration services.