The standard contract forms published by the American Institute of Architects have gained widespread use and acceptance largely because they are perceived to be reasonably balanced in the allocation of risk and responsibility. Despite some grumbling about architect protections, the documents attempt to be fair to all parties.
A recent court opinion interpreting one AIA contract form casts things in a different light. The document is the “Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Construction Manager where the Construction Manager is also the Constructor.” The form incorporates by reference the AIA Document A201 general conditions, while stating that it supersedes any inconsistent provisions in A201. It then states that references to the word “architect” refer to the construction manager.
The effective result is to assign all architectural responsibilities under Document A201 to the construction manager. A Texas court recently ruled that this may have rendered the construction manager/constructor liable for inadequate soil conditions at the project owner’s site.
This interpretation of the contract form appears accurate. It raises a question: Is this not a departure from the AIA’s tradition of fair allocation of risk and balanced treatment of the parties? As always, I invite your comments.
Featured in Next Week’s Construction Claims Advisor:
- Claim History Used to Disqualify Bidder
- City Counterclaim against Contractor Waived Statutory Damage Limitation
- Cost/Technical Trade-Off Upheld
President Obama (D) recently proposed fiscal 2012 funding for several programs that are designed to promote green buildings across the United States.
Among other things, Obama is seeking $100 million in appropriated credit subsidy costs and $5 million for administrative expenses for a new Better Buildings Pilot Loan Guarantee Initiative for universities, schools, and hospitals. The request follows the president's call for a Better Buildings Initiative that aims to achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency for commercial buildings over the next decade (GBI, Feb. 15, 2011, "President's New Better Buildings Initiative Wins Trade Groups' Praise").
The Swinerton Family of Companies, which provides commercial construction and construction management services throughout the western United States, earlier this month announced that it has adopted Textura Corp.’s Construction Payment Management (Textura-CPM) system for all of its projects.
Swinerton is using Textura-CPM to provide on-line subcontractor invoicing, collection of lien waivers, and automated tracking of compliance documents and electronic payments.