Illustration: Cynthia Cortes

In order to keep up with industry trends and important court decisions, every 10 years AIA Contract Documents are reviewed and updated. Changes to the 2017 documents that will affect architects include an added evaluation provision by the architect if the contractor proposes alternative means and methods; new agreements containing a fill point to prompt the parties to discuss and insert an appropriate “termination fee” for terminations for convenience; a single Sustainable Projects Exhibit that can be added to any AIA document to address the risks and responsibilities associated with sustainable projects; and AIA “scope” documents that describe, in detail, specialty services an architect can provide on a project.

B101-2017, Owner/Architect Agreement Changes

The document that will affect architects the most is B101–2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect. B101–2017 now allows the parties to indicate whether the architect will be compensated based on a stipulated sum, a percentage of the owner’s budget for the cost of the work, or on some “other” basis. If compensation is based on a “percentage basis,” the parties assign a percentage figure to each phase of basic services. Progress payments for each phase of basic services are calculated by multiplying the percentages by the owner’s most recent budget for the cost of the work. Compensation paid in previous progress payments is not adjusted to take into account subsequent updates to the owner’s budget. When compensation is on a percentage basis, and any portion of the project is deleted or otherwise not constructed, the architect is entitled to compensation for those portions to the extent services are performed.

Additionally, provisions related to the owner’s decision to terminate the agreement for the owner’s convenience now prompt the parties to discuss an appropriate termination fee to compensate the architect for costs associated with the termination, such as lost overhead or profit on unperformed services. B101–2017 also now provides that if the owner requires the architect to modify the construction documents—and the bids or proposals exceed the budget due to market conditions the architect could not reasonably have anticipated—the architect is to be compensated for those modifications as an additional service.

Addressing the Risks of Sustainable Projects

In addition, a new Sustainable Projects Exhibit, E204–2017, can now be added to any AIA document to address the risks and responsibilities associated with sustainable projects. This exhibit is meant to replace the Sustainable Projects documents included in the Conventional (A201) family of AIA Contract Documents.

In a single document, E204–2017 sets forth the roles and responsibilities for each of the project participants. The exhibit is to be used on a wide variety of sustainable projects, including those in which the Sustainable Objective includes obtaining a Sustainability Certification—such as LEED—or those in which the Sustainable Objective is based on incorporation of performance-based sustainable design or construction elements.

Finally, the AIA’s C203–2017 commissioning scope has been updated to now allow the commissioning agent’s involvement much earlier in the project, working with the design and construction team throughout. It is also no longer an “architect-only” scope, and commissioning professionals from all backgrounds can use it to perform these services.

Additional major changes to AIA scope documents include B203-2017, Site Evaluation and Project Feasibility, which allows the architect to assist an owner in selecting a site and determining the feasibility of a project. B205-2017, Historic Preservation, was also reorganized into four categories: Historic Assessment, Existing Buildings Assessment, Preservation Planning, and Specific State and Federal Services.

To learn more about changes to AIA’s scope documents, or receive samples of the 2017 AIA documents, visit aiacontracts .org/architectmag.