First Look: 2017 Changes to AIA Document B101 – The Owner-Architect Agreement

By:  Werner Sabo, Of Counsel

In late April 2017, the AIA released new versions of its flagship documents, including several owner-architect agreements. This article will examine a few of the more important revisions. A prior article dealt with a revision to the percentage-based fee provision, so that will not be repeated here.

  • In the 2007 version of the AIA documents, the initial information was contained in a separate exhibit. This included information about the type of project, budget, schedule, and so forth. This exhibit has now been eliminated and the information again appears in the body of the document. This should eliminate the problem of parties forgetting to include the information from the contract.
  • This document also identifies any sustainable objective that the owner may require and provides a separate document for that purpose. Digital practice and BIM are now addressed.
  • The traditional phases of the architect’s services have been kept intact with only minor revisions. The document makes clear that the architect is not responsible if the owner accepts nonconforming work. The former Bidding and Negotiation Phase is now called the Procurement Phase. Substitutions during the procurement phase are now additional services.
  • There are now two types of additional services: Supplemental Services are services that are not included as Basic Services and are identified as such in the document. These services can be anticipated at the outset of the project and the parties choose not to include them. The second type of additional service is Additional Services. These are not necessarily anticipated at the outset, but arise during the course of the project.
  • Communications among the project participants have been revised. Previously, communications between the owner and contractor had to go through the architect. This often did not happen. Realizing the reality of the situation, the documents now permit direct owner-contractor communications, with the architect being notified if the communications would in any way impact the work of the architect. This is a common-sense revision.
  • In prior versions of the agreement, the architect was required to redesign for free if the lowest bid exceeded the most recent budget. Now, this would be an additional service if the redesign is due to market conditions the architect could not reasonably anticipate.
  • In this agreement, Termination Expenses are eliminated. Most owners deleted this anyway, so it is not a big loss. In its place are provisions for a negotiable Termination Fee as well as a Licensing Fee for use of the architect’s Instruments of Service following termination.

Many of these provisions are also found in other 2017 Owner-Architect agreements, such as the B102 through B105 documents. The AIA website has more information as well as samples of these, and other, forms.

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