What are AIA Construction Contracts

Not even someone who loves reading contracts could love a construction contract. With legalese and complex structure, construction contracts are almost certainly the least enjoyable reading. Although their vapid reading reputation is well deserved, a construction contract is a significant aspect of any construction project. A contract sets out the mutual rights, responsibilities, and any other rules between two entities.  In this instance, the two parties are owners and contractors. By committing to writing down and agreeing to the obligations of relevant parties, misinterpretations and misunderstandings are minimized, thereby avoiding lost time and money. However, drafting contracts with subsequent reviews and revisions can be costly both in time and money. At some point in the contract process (ideally before signatures are applied to the written contract), attorneys may be involved.

What are AIA Contract Documents?

Often, company-specific contract templates with standard legal language cannot be negotiated by one or more of the parties to a contract. These “boilerplates” do not enjoy the most appealing of reputations as large legal firms frequently write with a bias for or against an industry or trade group.

Fortunately, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) provides documents that “…facilitate communications among all the parties involved in construction, which makes it easier to produce a high-quality project in a timely and economical fashion.” These documents are reported by the AIA to be “…the most widely used standard form contracts in the construction industry.”

What are the Benefits of Using AIA Contract Documents

  • Are Fair – No one interest is unfairly represented as AIA contracts and forms are consensus documents that reflect advice from practicing architects, contractors, engineers as well as owners, surety bond producers, insurers, and attorneys.
  • Reflect Industry Practices, Not Theory – As AIA documents are consensus-based, practices that are inconsistent or non-existent are limited.
  • Revised Regularly – Changing construction practices, insurance, and technology are reflected in regularly updated documents and forms.
  • Reflect Current Law – Recent court interpretations, rulings, and legal precedent are reflected in regularly updated documents and forms.
  • Are Flexible – AIA documents can be easily modified to accommodate individual projects. These changes are easily distinguished from the original.
  • Easy to Interpret – The common meanings of words and phrases are used instead of industry and legal jargon whenever possible.

How Often are AIA Documents updated?

AIA Contract Documents are updated regularly and at least every ten years to reflect industry trends and significant court decisions. The most recent released revisions were in April 2018 with 11 revised forms and documents. There were 18 forms and agreements released in the fall of 2017.

What are the Most Used AIA Contract Documents?

There are over 180 AIA construction documents, but fortunately, the AIA has provided a webpage with the Most Used Documents and also broken these documents into categories:

  • A-Series: Owner/Contractor Agreements
  • B-Series: Owner/Architect Agreements
  • C-Series: Other Agreements
  • D-Series: Miscellaneous Documents
  • E-Series: Exhibits
  • G-Series: Contract Administration and Project Management Forms

This link to this document provides not only a free sample preview but also:

  • When to Use this document
  • Including Instructions for use
  • Related learning materials

Carden Company AIA Document Experience

The most frequently used AIA document by Carden Company is A-101, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor where the basis of payment is a Stipulated Sum.  Generally, coupled with this contract is A201 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.