The American Institute of Architects (AIA) publishes one of the most widely-used sets of form contracts for use on construction projects. AIA, which historically has revised the forms every ten years, currently is publishing a new set. The focus of this article is the new version of A201 “General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.” The A201 is incorporated into many of the AIA contracts and sets forth the requirements for owner and contractor claims for delays or additional costs.
Among other changes, the 2017 revisions to A201 make the following changes which may significantly impact claims:
- Notice of Claims: Revised Section 15.1.3 appears to delete the requirement that notice of claims be made in writing. However, the revisions add a new Section 1.6.2 that requires notice of claims be made in writing. Written notice of claims must be delivered in person, sent by registered or certified mail or by courier service providing proof of delivery. Failure to provide proper notice could invalidate a claim.
- Demands for Mediation and Arbitration/Litigation: After the “Initial Decision Maker” provides its decision on a claim, Sections 188.8.131.52 and 15.3.3 allow either party to demand in writing that the other party file for mediation or binding dispute resolution (arbitration or litigation as agreed by the parties). If the other party fails to file for mediation or binding dispute resolution within the required time, “then both parties waive their rights to mediate or pursue binding dispute resolution proceedings with respect to the initial decision” on the claim. This allows either party to force resolution of a claim if not resolved by other means.
- Construction Schedule: Section 3.10.1 adds specific requirements for the contractor’s construction schedule, including that the schedule provide interim schedule milestone dates, an apportionment of work by construction activity and the required time for completion of each portion of the work. The schedule also must be “revised at appropriate intervals as required by the conditions of the Work and Project.” Arguably, failure to comply with these requirements could impact a contractor’s claims for delays.
The 2017 revisions make many other changes to A201. Any contractor considering using the revised form agreements is encouraged to review the forms with an experienced construction attorney to determine how the revised forms may impact their rights and obligations for its construction projects.