- The American Institute of Architects has released its second round of 2017 contract revisions, which includes updates to architect scope documents, as well as other commonly used AIA forms, as part of the changes that the organization makes to its series inventory every 10 years.
- The architect scope documents, said Mike Koger, manager and counsel of AIA contract documents, in a press release, were updated to reflect the duties architects take on beyond providing architectural services. Changes to scope also include the architect's role in site evaluations (Form B203-2017), historic preservation services (B205-2017), to what extent an on-site representative can act on behalf of the architect (B207-2017) and facility support services (B210-2017).
- Koger said these latest changes would coordinate with the AIA's previous document revisions, released earlier this year, and make the forms "more efficient and user-friendly."
The AIA released the first round of changes to its series of contract documents back in April. Some of the issues the new documents addressed were retainage — the percent withheld from a contractor's or subcontractor's payment until the end of the project — termination fees, the prevalence of electronic communication and contractor access to owner financial information, as well as risks and responsibilities of sustainability and green building.
It also included a revision concerning the architect's decision-making role on a project. The AIA's A201 general conditions document identifies the architect as the "initial decision maker," but the most recent rendition clarifies that role and includes language that the architect cannot show favoritism to the owner or contractor.
Steve Cvitanovic, co-chair of the construction law practice group at Haight Brown & Bonesteel in California, raised the question with Construction Dive in May as to whether one revision every 10 years was sufficient. He said technology and other industry issues evolve quickly and more frequent updates might eliminate the need for some of the markups that legal professionals make when they're reviewing AIA documents for a client.
One issue that might drive future changes to the contracts is the role contractors have started to play in the design process. Technology like building information modeling (BIM), laser scanning and drone mapping have given contractors the ability to perform early modeling and assist architects and engineers in fleshing out the workability of a design. As this practice takes hold, the subject of contractual risks and responsibilities may need to be revisited.