AIA Standard Contract B101-2017 Provisions During a Pandemic – Commentary 04.09.21

AIA Webinar: The Path to Success: The Architect’s Guide to COVID-19
(Recorded on January 11, 2021 at 12:00PM CT: The Architect’s Guide to COVID 19 – YouTube)

This is about standard contract provisions during the pandemic. 

This seminar is still deemed essential for practicing architects and professionals in related fields, as we are living in this pandemic time with progressively advanced sciences and new vaccinations. We still strive to move forward with our professions. As with other professions, we encounter loopholes and road blocks. 

Professional and legal advice are crucial in dealing with AIA Contract Documents in the architect profession. Please kindly view the following comments discussed pertaining to the B101-2017 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect as well as situations delayed due to the pandemic.

During the start of this pandemic, where times were uncertain and proposed projects were put on hold, some large firms having a satellite office location already had an advantage to continue with work production. Also, firms already having multiple office locations were able to shift around their employees’ roles and assist on projects locally based, which would compensate for the early days of travel bans. 

On the construction sites, virtual zoom live recordings would help assist those that needed in-depth surveying and record tracking of observations in check. 

With construction delays, material shortages, work stop orders, and financial budgets, contractor bids have become more highly competitive for current projects. Fees have increased to accommodate for all these situations. 

As practitioners handle these situations legally, they must still strive for a standard of care as they evaluate work and quality assurance, even if they may have to hire additional services or terminate staff numbers. 

Per the AIA seminar discussion, here are some pertinent concerns to keep in mind:

  • In the B101-2017 Agreement, Sec. 2.2, The Architect’s standard of care “shall perform its services consistent with the professional skill and care ordinarily provided by architects practicing in the same or similar locality… under the same or similar circumstances”. *The Standard of Care forces practitioners to rethink about our designs for the future.
  • Risk Shifting Provisions: Favoring the Owner: As we can understand that fees, scope of services, project schedule, and milestone dates are all impacted by the pandemic, the pandemic nor its impacts shall increase fees or entitle the Architect or Subconsultants for additional compensation or for any unprecedented damage. 
  • Risk Shifting Provisions: Favoring the Architect: Due to the B101-2017 Agreement, if changes or delays occur due to the pandemic during the date of the Agreement, the Architect shall be entitled an adjustment in compensation and in the Architect’s schedule. 
  • Contract Clause: A new clause was discussed on addressing impossible issues that are uncontrollable including war, riots, insurrection, hurricane, etc. This clause will cover these instances as “force majeure events” strictly enforced.
  • B101-2017, Sec. 3.1.3 on the Architect submitting a schedule for performance services for an Owner’s approval: This also states that, “once approved by the Owner, time limits established by the schedule shall not, except for reasonable cause”, be exceeded by the Architect or Owner. With the Owner’s approval, the Architect shall adjust the schedule.
  • Section 3.6.2.1, the Architect shall visit the site at intervals appropriate to the stage of construction, etc. 
  • Work evaluations: communication, limit site visits, working hours, virtual, etc. 
  • Additional services: 4.2.1 Architect shall notify the Owner …. and with written authorization for material changes in the project.

These bullet points listed are some of the essential points to be taken in concern as we are continually learning how to progress with safer measures of working during the pandemic. 

As per the video discussion, we take home ideas on how architecture firms have been impacted and how they have made special adjustments in order to survive this revolution we are still living through.  

For more info on document contracts, https://aiacontracts.org/learn

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