I would like to get some advice. I am thinking about adding this statement to my construction documents general notes: "The AIA Document A201™ general conditions set forth the rights, responsibilities, and relationships of the owner, contractor, and architect. As part of the contractors "Work", the contractor shall review and agree to adopt the latest version of the AIA Document A201™ general conditions based on the date of the original signed and sealed construction documents." My reasoning behind this is that there are occasions where contractor do not use AIA family of documents and therefore the general conditions for construction are not available to reference when a contractor or owner does not follow procedures, understand the construction process or definitions. I believe this would be good to have as part of my construction documents general notes, especially if no specification manual is provided for smaller projects. I addition, should I add that the AIA Document A201™ general conditions shall superceeds all conflicting language herein?
In light of your question, we reached out to the AIA Contract Documents team for feedback, and got the following response. This response is posted on behalf of the AIA Contract Documents team:
It is not clear that including that note in the construction documents will achieve the desired results, particularly if the underlying Owner-Contractor agreement does not contain language that could be read to obligate the contractor to be fully bound by everything contained in the construction documents. This might be a question that would be decided on project by project, agreement by agreement basis.
Another approach might be to consider making sure you always start with an AIA Owner-Architect agreement. Most AIA Owner-Architect agreements contain language that ties the Architect's obligations to the A201, or general conditions that are largely derivative of the A201. For example, B101-2017 provides:
Similar provisions are found in B103.
In B104, the applicable general conditions are found in the coordinated owner-contractor agreement A105. The general conditions found in A105 are largely derived from A201. The text of B104 reads in part as follows:
Similar text is found in B105, tying contract administration services to terms found in the A105.
In the CM as advisor family of documents, the Owner-Architect agreement, B132, provides:
Other Owner-Architect agreements contain similar references.
So, you might consider starting with an AIA Owner-Architect agreement, and convincing the Owner to use an AIA Owner-Contractor agreement because the documents are coordinated to work together and tie to coordinated general conditions.
Of course, you should review each contract carefully, and consult with competent legal counsel to discuss any further question and to confirm that the content of the agreements will achieve what you desire.
The American Institute of Architects has provided the response above for general AIA Contract Document informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice. The information provided cannot be used for mediation, arbitration, or litigation purposes. Transmission and/or receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. No one should act upon this information without seeking appropriate legal counsel on the particular facts and circumstances at issue.
Increasingly, the form of contract between the Contractor and Owner is not only not discussed with the Architect but not even shared with us on request after it is executed. This sets things up for our standard of care to come into conflict with the agreement between Owner and Contractor, and we are routinely asked to do things, not only against our client's legitimate interests and our own, but flat-out illegal. It seems to me that this is part of the context within which the original question was posed.
I'm sure we all, as architects, concur that the A201 is a balanced agreement with language that has been tested in the Courts, and generally protects everyone's proper interests. The question then becomes: how to manifest within the Construction Documents the assumptions on which they were prepared with respect to the eventual for of contract to which they will pertain and within which they will be interpreted. The strategy of including clear statements within the construction documents about the assumed form of contract at which they are targeted commends itself as a good policy in a bad situation. If it can be made abundantly clear to all, how the preparer of the Construction Documents expected those documents to be interpreted, and the limitations within which they are presented, then at least the scope gap (or legal / ethical gap!) can be addressed as what it is: a failure to coordinate the consideration of all parties. It is then more likely to be held to the Owner's account to reconcile the terms under which he has engaged his Architect and his Contractor, especially if he is a professional Owner, rather than to the architect's account to quit complaining and perform an impossible or illegal scope of services, or an onerous one without due compensation.
Compounding the problem is the fact that much that takes place between the several parties during construction must be characterized as attempts to strong-arm and bully, and to obfuscate the delineation of our scope of services. This is not to whine, it is just the way things are. The sharper relief into which a failure to coordinate agreements is thrown, the better off we will be. And the better chance there will be of someone catching the bust and addressing it before it begins to wreak havoc.
I support the proposition of stating on the drawings our assumption of what form of contract will be adopted, and the A201 is as good as any. Beyond this, there should be at least an outline of the Division 1 requirements in the documents somewhere. If you are not issuing a book spec then you will need something of that nature on the drawings, including irreducible minimum requirements for submittals, RFIs, product and execution requirements, closeout, etc. Otherwise you will find yourself at the mercy of the "CM", which is a thinly disguised euphemism for a GC that wants to convince the Owner that he has rightful control over the actions of the Architect.
TIM FELLS AIA, LEED® AP
Senior Project Manager HOK One Logan Square, Suite 1510 | Philadelphia PA 19103 USA
5 Bryant Park: 1065 Ave of the Americas, 6th Floor | New York, NY 10018 US
t +1 215 940 6699 m +1 267 236 2508
This is excellent advise to everyone, especially those who do not have some form of a specification narrative
In "book" form included on every project! There is a gap between the architect's SOC and the formal AIA-A201.
Having a well thought out CSI formatted "boiler plate" spec sheet, which includes meaningful excerpts from the
Division 01 00 00 section can assure the architect "proper leverage" when it comes to GC issues.
I find that creating the project "operating environment" upon project onset is key to project parity for the owner /
Architect relationship. The architect must lead from a place of strength! By providing ALL of the forms (AIA)
And Most of the basic project (daily/weekly reports, RFIs, RFPs CMODs etc.) documentation, this can be an
Thank you for the very excellent insight.
Peter S. Nance, RA