Analysis

Highlights of the 2017 Revisions to the AIA-A201

 

For almost 130 years, the American Association of Architects (AIA) has published form construction documents. The AIA family of documents is among the most popular and commonly used form construction documents in the construction industry. The last time that AIA issued major changes to the contract family of documents was 2007. Historically, AIA has issued revisions to their standard form contracts every 10 years. Consistent with its custom, AIA recently released revisions to 11 different forms and plans to release revisions to additional forms in the fall of 2017.

This article focuses on the changes to the AIA-A201. The AIA-A201 is the general conditions form that is used in conjunction with certain other contract forms, such as the AIA-A101 “Standard Form of Agreement Between an Owner and Contractor Where the Basis of Payment is a Stipulated Sum.” Most of the changes are relatively minor clarifications or improvements. For instance, the revised AIA-A201 now defines the term “Separate Contractor(s).” AIA also added provisions that some may consider boilerplate, such as the addition of a “survival” clause. But, AIA also made substantive changes, some of which are discussed below:

  • The most significant change to the AIA-A201 is the creation of an insurance and bonds exhibit. In the 2007 version, the insurance and bond requirements were primarily set forth in the agreement itself. Now, the majority of the insurance and bond terms are included in an exhibit, which must be read in conjunction with the remaining insurance terms in Section 11 of the agreement. The new AIA insurance exhibit allows for much greater flexibility in choosing insurance coverage and permits the parties to tailor their insurance coverage to the specific needs of their project. For instance, the exhibit distinguishes between insurance coverages that are required (such as workers’ compensation or automobile liability insurance) versus optional (such as asbestos liability or loss of use insurance). The AIA-A201 also makes some modifications to general insurance terms, such as establishing specific owner liability to contractor for the owner’s failure to procure insurance and requiring waivers of subrogation under insurance policies separate from those policies insuring the project.
  • In a response to the financial crisis that followed the issuance of the 2007 edition, AIA developed more comprehensive language regarding the owner’s duty to provide the contractor with information concerning its ability to pay. For instance, the revised AIA-A201 creates a detailed procedure outlining when a contractor can refuse to proceed with the work, or even suspend work in certain instances, if the owner does not provide timely information concerning its financial arrangements. The form does, however, require the contractor to keep the owner’s financial information confidential.

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