AIA contracts are some of the most common documents in the construction industry, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t confusing, especially to those outside of the industry. What exactly are AIA contracts and should you sign one?
What Does AIA Stand For?
AIA stands for the American Institute of Architects. It is the largest organizational body in the American architectural industry. They offer space for over 94,000 professionals in architecture and design to come together and share resources, exclusive discounts, licensure opportunities, and contracts.
AIA contracts are the industry standard and are often used in order to provide legal protection to architectural projects. On the AIA website, you can find over 200 contracts available for purchase which cover a wide variety of architecture projects.
Why Do Architects Use Their Contracts?
These contracts are the industry standard for a good reason. Over the past 134 years, AIA has been perfecting these contracts so they provide the fairest agreement for the architect, contractor, and client involved in any project.
These contracts were prepared and are constantly revised by a committee of industry professionals including architects, attorneys, engineers, and contractors. Because these documents have such a long history, the case study around how to use them is well established. This leads to optimal communication and faster projects for all involved.
How Are They Created?
These contracts are drafted, revised, and edited by industry professionals so they can serve as a comprehensive legal guide to architecture projects. The current AIA Documents committee has 35 members from a variety of construction fields. Committee membership is voluntary and isn’t compensated so as to avoid any biased decisions.
With the help of the AIA Legal Counsel, the committee meets regularly to review all their contracts. They are constantly collecting and analyzing sources from around the US to make sure their contracts are fair and useful. They also conduct market research to decide what topics and types of contracts are needed most.
Once the documents are created, they also ask for feedback from industry professionals not on the committee. Overall, this revision and research heavy process creates optimal and user-friendly contracts for a variety of construction projects.
Should You Sign One?
Most likely, your architect will have an AIA contract for you to sign. In fact, if they don’t have a contract at all or use a contract that isn’t from AIA, it could be a red flag that their practice isn’t up to industry standards.
AIA contracts are the most fair contracts in the architectural industry and while it’s always a good idea for you, your contractor, and possibly your attorney to read any contract in its entirety, these contracts are usually safe to sign. They not only protect the architects, but you and your contractor as well.
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