For Homeowners: What Is A Contract? (2 of 2)

Most contracts these days are offered to an owner using a “standard form” that are created by industry organizations and, while they generally reflect certain recognized standards, they do tend to reflect the bias of that industry. Standard contract forms have several advantages, including their ease of use, less need for an attorney, and they’re usually easier to interpret by the parties and or courts, if necessary.
However, these standard/generic contracts also have disadvantages such as they do reflect industry bias and changes through an addendum can make the contract hard to follow. The generic contract form provided by the AIA appears to be the one used most often. Most construction contracts, including the AIA forms, consist of several documents, which include the main agreement, a form called general conditions (or AIA form 201 which attempts to list the rules and procedures during the work) and special conditions (usually prepared by the architect), and finally, the building plans or specifications.
When using the AIA forms, where a “family” of agreements are intended to be used together, there are two main contract labels, or the “A” and “B” series. The “A” series is a contract between an owner and contractor and the “B” series is a contract between architect and owner. A third series, or the “G” series, is a group of documents that are generated while the work is in progress, such as change orders and clarification requests.
The other contract an owner should encounter when a renovation repair is contemplated is the architect agreement that in turn usually has an addendum to modify the architect’s form agreement for a particular project. This agreement usually sets forth a number of details, such as the requirement to design within a budget, waiver of consequential damages, and a number of other important issues for the owner. The architect agreement should be thought of as the first necessary agreement, since an owner cannot really start most renovation or repair projects and or obtain a bid without a set of design documents prepared after a contract between owner and architect has been signed.