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The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange (SFx) is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. The objectives of the AIA SFx are three-fold:

1. Advocate for small firms within the AIA and in outside organizations and agencies.
2. Promote leadership in Small Firm professional development and practice; and
3. Facilitate and support the local component round tables and small firm networks.

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AIA Contract Documents

  • 1.  AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-24-2017 12:09

    "AIA recently changed the way contract documents are accessed and purchased. Currently you can either buy individual documents with no subscription or you can purchase an unlimited annual subscription for $ 950.00. If you had the old Annual Limited Use License, it cost around $300.00 per year and you got 150 units or about $10.00 for most documents other than contracts and general conditions. Under the new program, these documents are approximately three times that amount. My question is: How many of you are happy with the new programs, how many of you like the on-line feature and how many of you would rather go back to the old method where  you purchased a license and you got x amount of units and they were good until you ran out and then you bought a new license? Are small firms being priced out of using AIA Contract Documents? AIA Contract Documents is one of the largest benefits of being a member of AIA. Pricing us out of the market is not representing the small firms.

    Michael Potter AIA
    Potter Architecture,LLC
    Cheyenne WY

  • 2.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-25-2017 18:00
    I have a difficult time expressing my rage when it comes to what the AIA has done when it comes to contract documents and AIA members. Instead of treating us as partners in the development of tools for members, the national organization has treated us as a market for products. Instead of asking us what we want and then responding within the structure of the dues we already paid, they have told us what we want and then told us how much extra we will pay.

    One anecdote: I did some design + build partnering with good friend of mine who is a general contractor. The poor naive soul was eager to use AIA contract documents with clients. When he saw the cost, he stood open-mouthed for a minute, then asked what "my" cost is as an AIA member. I told him that "is" my cost as an AIA member. That was the beginning of his questioning what the purpose of the AIA was.

    Sean Catherall
    Herriman UT

  • 3.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-28-2017 17:57
    I am a partner in an extremely small firm (three partners, I'm the only licensed architect). We are currently using the Design Build Family of documents on a project. I don't think the cost of the documents is excessive. I think that they protect every party's interests equally well, as they are written. We have considered the full subscription price to have documents where all the language can be amended, but for now the fill in the blank form works fine for us. Up until this year, we tended to use contract documents (modified from architect friends' documents) that were shorter, but less robust and well defined. I think the extra cost of AIA documents are worth it. They are expensive until you get sued, and then the extra language makes them seem like a bargain.

    Anthony Jacobs AIA
    Wichita KS

  • 4.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-29-2017 18:22
    Mr. Jacobs,

    Your opinion that the document price is reasonable (not excessive) can't be debated as that is your opinion. If you're not bothered by it, then OK, case closed, carry on. However, to state that "they are expensive until you get sued, and then the extra language makes them seem like a bargain" is a silly argument or a logical fallacy (a false dilemma), because there are infinite options that are a better choice than being sued. The AIA could set any price if that was the option. In other words, how much would you pay not to be sued?

    The price is excessive, the dues should care for most of the price, the previous system now seems fair, they're likely trying to pay for the cost of the online platform and as Lucas Gray so keenly observed, make them extremely low for members and "punish" the non-members.

    This is ridiculous and it needs to be adjusted.

    Lee Calisti AIA
    lee CALISTI architecture+design
    Greensburg PA

  • 5.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-29-2017 15:35
    I agree. What is the AIA doing for small firms????

    Franziska Amacher FAIA LEED NCARB WBE

    237 Mount Auburn Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138
    617 354 8707

  • 6.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-30-2017 17:59
    Can't really address the contract costs. I buy them individually and it doesn't seem excessive to me. My liability carrier virtually requires that I use AIA contracts. E & O insurance- now that's expensive!

    As far as what AIA does for small firms, I agree at the national level it feel very giga-firm centric. But at my state level, our Texas Society of Architects fights like mad to protect us through lobbying. They have limited the statute of repose (length of liability), strengthened the practice act i.e. requiring sealed plans, fought against encroachment from Interior Designers and especially engineers, fought to keep QBS (vs. bidding of services for state projects). Every one of these directly affects my small firm. On that basis alone AIA is worth it, without even considering our fabulous state convention, annual Prosperity Conference, and annual Design Conference. Most of these programs were started by members from small firms. Many of our state Presidents are from small firms, including two of the last three.

    Yes, all those freeloading "RA's" in the state benefit from our work too. But they miss out on everything else. If you are an architect, this isn't your job- it's your life. If that isn't important enough to get involved with your fellow practitioners in advancing the profession, I don't know what to say to you. Get involved- you can make a difference.

    Gregory S. Ibañez FAIA
    Ibañez Shaw Architecture LLC
    801 W. 10th Street
    Fort Worth TX 76102
    tel:  +1.817.306.4452
    cel: +1.817.845.8348

  • 7.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-25-2017 18:35
    Regarding the new AIA Contract Document scenario, I can deal with the online functionality. I didn't care for it at first, but it does allow me to access it from any computer. As for the pricing for those of us who cannot afford or justify $950/year (i.e all sole practitioner firms), the cost for each contract is absurd. I can't avoid it as I've needed to use it twice in the last month for Owner-Contractor contracts. I find it offensive to have to pass it onto my clients, but I can't absorb $60 per contract. I'm hoping they hear our message and wise up.

    Lee Calisti AIA
    lee CALISTI architecture+design
    Greensburg PA

  • 8.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-25-2017 21:22
    I think the whole program sucks. This should be a service to the members - not a profit center. If the documents were reasonably priced, either individually or in subscription, it would encourage members to use them more. With the new subscription cost I could write my own with the help of my attorney.

  • 9.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-28-2017 17:28
    I agree.  Members should get favorable pricing.

    Thomas Hirsch, FAIA
    14 North Allen Street
    MADISON WI 53726-3924

    Ph: 608-332-7797

    "Architecture Matters Everyday
    & Everyday Architecture Matters"

  • 10.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-28-2017 17:33
    I've always wondered why the AIA doesn't increase the fees for services astronomically for non-members and reduce them dramatically for members. Create a financial incentive to pay annual dues. This is a great example. Contract documents could be $150 or $200 each for non-AIA members and $10 each for members. Hopefully, the value of using the documents will drive people to join the institute, thus increasing AIA National's revenue enough to subsidize the cost of the documents for those members. If you were going to use 5 contracts a year and could save $100 or so each time if you became a member, more people would join as the savings would offset the cost of the dues.

    I have the same thought for events, conferences, lectures, CE credits, AIAU courses, etc. Make them available to everyone at a higher price with steep discounts (or free) for members. Who wouldn't be a member if Contract Documents were free? 

    Lucas Gray Associate AIA, LEED BD+C
    Propel Studio  |  |  (503) 453-7195  |  5229 NE MLK BLVD  Ste 101, Portland, OR  97212

  • 11.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-29-2017 18:44
    I think Lucas is on to something in terms of concept. Why punish the members? Where is the incentive to join?

    Lee Calisti AIA
    lee CALISTI architecture+design
    Greensburg PA

  • 12.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-28-2017 07:37

    Having these documents available electronically is great but the software is cumbersome and the cost is unreasonable. Our membership paid to develop the documents and the software, why should we have to pay for it all over again. Cost to members is excessive and should be reduced. I'm open to the suggestion of going back to the old method of purchasing documents but the unit prices should be reduced to members.


    Neale L Bauman, AIA, CCS, LEED AP

    The Design Forum Inc.

    560 Fifth St NW, Suite 201

    Grand Rapids, MI  49504

    616.454.1398, x 114, office

    616.550.1399, cell

    616.454.0944, fax


  • 13.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-28-2017 12:48
    I like the old system better.  With the new one I feel like I'm getting nickle'd and dime'd.

    Thomas Hirsch, FAIA
    14 North Allen Street
    MADISON WI 53726-3924

    Ph: 608-332-7797

    "Architecture Matters Everyday
    & Everyday Architecture Matters"

  • 14.  RE: AIA Contract Documents

    Posted 08-28-2017 17:00

    Thank you, Michael for speaking out. I, too, am now limited and I, too, did the math. As a small firm/enterprise, you touched on it, and I am in agreement, that the small firms are paying the penalty on these documents. I am not happy with the new, and expensive system and miss "the old system". I feel that the small firms are being priced out of using the AIA Contract Documents, and agree with you that our efforts and love of the business as a small firm is not being represented by AIA. 

    Jeremy C Jeffers, AIA 

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