When beginning a construction project, there are several approaches to drafting and agreeing on contracts that will give structure to the overall undertaking. A unique, specialized contract is sometimes necessary for larger projects with a significant number of involved parties. In other situations, it sometimes makes sense to use standardized contracts that come from an established organization like the American Institute of Architects (AIA). While there might be some pitfalls from using templates, there are a few advantages to using AIA contracts.
1. Terms used in AIA documents are written plainly and easy to understand. AIA contracts, by nature, are written using everyday language. There might be some jargon and industry-specific terms included in the standardized contract, but the language overall is written without legalese.
2. These documents can be altered and tailored to fit your needs and goals. Any AIA contracts you use will have blank spaces where you fill in the names of the parties involved, contract price, and other project-specific details. What AIA contracts usually do is provide a comprehensive framework for the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of everyone involved in a construction project. You are welcome to make minor changes or modifications to the contract itself, but too many needed changes could signal that you need to make your own contracts from scratch.
3. AIA Documents are holistic. Contract templates written by the AIA take into account feedback from owners, developers, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers, construction attorneys, and other parties. Generally, no one party will be unfairly represented in AIA contracts.
4. Standardized documents have case law behind them. You can be sure that any AIA contract or document is in accordance with the latest updates on construction law. Additionally, there is plenty of precedent for how AIA contracts (and the provisions within those contracts) have been interpreted by the courts over the years. Therefore, the way certain legal disputes over an AIA document will be resolved can be fairly predictable. Having this established legal framework and case law can also help disputes be settled efficiently.
5. Using AIA documents can help initial contract negotiations go by more quickly. When you are contracting with other seasoned construction firms and parties, there’s a good chance they will have already used contracts produced by the AIA before. Having an understanding of each party’s general obligations from the start can expedite the overall construction project.
Whether you use a standardized construction contract (like one form the AIA) or draft one yourself, you need to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney look at your contract to make sure your interests are protected. Reach out to the Florida Construction Law Group to see how we can provide value to your next construction project.