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Morris Manning & Martin, LLP

American Institute of Architects Officially Retires the 1997 Version of the AIA Contract Documents


As of May 31, 2009, the 1997 versions of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) family of construction contract forms can no longer be used.  All users of these forms (including owners, developers, engineers and other design professionals, contractors, construction managers, subcontractors and suppliers, construction lenders, and construction sureties) must now transition to the 2007 edition of the AIA contracts. 

The AIA typically revises its family of contract documents every ten years in an effort to reflect industry trends and practices.  In the fourth quarter of 2007, the AIA completed revisions to the 1997 contract documents.  All of the documents in the AIA family of construction contracts were substantively affected by the 2007 revisions.  In addition, several of the 1997 series contracts were renumbered (e.g. the B151-1997 became the B101-2007).  Both the A-Series contract forms, which relate to agreements between owners and contractors and between contractors and their subcontractors, and the B-Series contract forms, which relate to agreements between the owner and the architect, were significantly changed as a result of the 2007 revisions.  

Following the completion of the 2007 revisions, the AIA provided an 18-month transition period for parties to continue to use the retired documents while they migrated to using the updated 2007 versions.  On May 31, 2009, however, the transition period ended and the AIA officially retired the 1997 contract documents.  This means that AIA’s software program can no longer modify or create forms using the 1997 contract documents.  Instead, everyone is now required to transition to the 2007 contract documents and use the 2007 enabling software.

Many AIA contract users still have versions of the copyrighted 1997 edition of the AIA contracts.  As a result of the mandatory transition to the 2007 AIA contract documents, these users must update their existing AIA contract documents to the required 2007 forms in a manner that achieves their desired level of risk allocation and legal protection.  Indeed, even people who do not typically use the AIA documents should be aware of the 2007 changes, because the clauses and concepts in the AIA documents are frequently borrowed and used in non-AIA contracts.

One basic change incorporated in all of the 2007 AIA contracts is a new dispute resolution mechanism.  Since 1888, the AIA contracts have required that all disputes be decided by binding arbitration.  The 2007 AIA contracts introduce a “check a box” provision that allows parties to determine whether disputes will be resolved by arbitration, litigation or “other” by literally checking a box.  If no box is checked, the default choice of dispute resolution is litigation -- not arbitration.  In addition to this change, the 2007 revisions shift certain responsibilities and potential liabilities amongst the various parties to a construction contract.

Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP is fully conversant with the new 2007 AIA contract documents and the significant changes affected by these new forms to the risk allocation provisions in the old 1997 forms.

In order to guide our clients toward a successful transition from the outdated contract documents to the required 2007 forms, Morris, Manning & Martin is hosting a webinar on the new AIA Contract Documents.  The webinar will take place on September 16, 2009 and is free of charge.  Stay tuned for additional information regarding the webinar.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the 2007 revisions or need assistance in making the required transitions, please contact one of our Construction lawyers.