BY FRANK E. RIGGS, JR.
The AIA revises its A201 family of contracts
every 10 years and then the construction
industry begins to assess the changes.
It’s that time again . . .
On November 5, 2007, the AIA released its
2007 Edition of the AIA contracts, including
the popular AIA Document A201, General
Conditions of the Contract For Construction
(A201-2007 General Conditions). The release included about 40 revised, renumbered,
or new AIA documents.
This article summarizes the most significant
AIA document changes (especially those
changes to the A201-2007 General Conditions) and provides a preliminary assessment of how those changes may affect the
rights and risks of those using the new or
revised AIA contract forms.
Changes to the A201
General Conditions Document
The A201 General Conditions document
forms the backbone of the AIA contracts for
construction. This document is also central
to, and incorporated by reference into,
many of the contract relationships created
by the AIAcontract forms. Therefore, the
significant changes to the A201 in 2007 are
worthy of special note.
“INITIAL DECISION MAKER”
In 1997, the AIA introduced a new and controversial concept: The architect could issue
an “initial decision” on a disputed matter
between the owner and contractor – and, if
the decision stated that it was “final and
binding but subject to mediation and arbitration,” and that a demand for arbitration
must be filed within 30 days – the initial
decision became binding on the parties
unless the decision was made the subject
of an arbitration demand within 30 days of
the receipt of the final written decision. 1
This change evoked much criticism, particularly by contractors who were caught unaware of the “final and binding” impact of
these initial decisions.
In addition, the requirement that the owner
or contractor make a demand for arbitration
within 30 days of such an initial decision
placed both parties at risk of having to bear
the burden, distraction, and expense of multiple arbitration demands during the course
of a project’s performance.
This concept is altered in the A201-2007 General Conditions document. Article 15 recognizes that the parties may decide to select
someone other than the architect as the
“Initial Decision Maker” with respect to
owner/contractor disputes. 2
In addition, the revised language no longer
requires that a disappointed party contest
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