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New AIA 2017 Construction Contracts Part I: Owner General Contractor Forms

May 30, 2017

[This is Part I of a four-part series discussing the new AIA 2017 forms. Part II will discuss the general conditions to the construction contract (A201-2017); Part III will discuss the Owner—Architect forms (B101-2017, B102-2017 and B103-2017); Part IV will discuss miscellaneous new forms, including the new insurance exhibits and consultant forms]

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) form construction contracts are the predominant family of forms in the construction industry. AIA recently issued its decennial updates to some of its forms. This article discusses changes to the 2017 versions of two of the form contracts between the Owner and Contractor, namely the AIA form A101-2017 (agreement where the basis of payment is a stipulated sum) and the AIA form A102-2017 (agreement where the basis of payment is the cost of the work plus a fee).

Changes Common to Both Forms

Many substantive changes common to both 2017 A101 and A102 versions include the following (all capitalized words in this article refer to capitalized and defined terms in the contracts; all references to contract sections refer to the 2017 versions unless otherwise noted):

The 2007 version’s language for both forms states

…[i]f final completion of the Work is thereafter materially delayed through no fault of the Contractor, any additional amounts payable in accordance with Section 9.10.3 of AIA Document A201-2007. [emphasis added]

While the revision is minor, by removing both the “thereafter” language and the reference to Section 9.10.3 of the A201 (which only addresses matters after Substantial Completion), the change in meaning is noteworthy. The Contractor could argue that this new language allows recovery for any material delays at any time in the project—and not limited to those after Substantial Completion—which is presumably the intent. In the 2007 version, including the “thereafter” language and referencing only the section in the A201 that addresses matters after Substantial Completion, the intent of the parties is clearer. An owner should consider the potential ramifications of this new change to the 2017 forms when negotiating the contract terms.

Changes to the A101

Changes to the A102

Stylistic Changes
Many of the stylistic changes to the forms include:

In total, the 2017 comments to the A102 and A103 are relatively minor. However, those minor adjustments to the language could have a major and perhaps unintended impact on the agreement’s interpretation. Regardless if an owner or contractor, all who use the AIA forms should note the changes to ensure that each party’s intent is accurately reflected in the agreement.