What We Do

AIA Contract Documents are the nearly 200 forms and contracts that define the relationships and terms involved in design and construction projects.  Prepared by the AIA with the consensus of owners, contractors, attorneys, architects, engineers, and others, the documents have been finely tuned during their 120-year history.   As a result, these comprehensive contracts and forms are now widely recognized as the industry standard.   Used by all industry professionals, including architects, contractors, owners, consultants, and attorneys, AIA Contract Documents are organized into two categories: By families based on types of projects or particular project delivery methods and by series based on the use of the document.

AIA Contract Documents are created by the AIA Documents Committee [link to the new AIA Documents Committee page] comprised of 35 dedicated men and women from diverse practices across the United States. Experts in the fields of design, construction, law, and insurance, Committee members work to draft and revise AIA Contract Documents over voluntary ten year terms. Their knowledge and their dedication help ensure that AIA Contract Documents remain the Industry Standard.

Changes and developments in the building industry sometimes necessitate drafting new contract documents and revising existing ones. When doing so, the AIA abides by certain Drafting Principles and follows a Revision Policy to ensure that AIA Contract Documents maintain consistently high standards while still adapting to current trends and practices.

Numbering System

The AIA numbering system organizes AIA documents alphanumerically by series, based on document use or purpose, and by family, based on project type or delivery method.

Under the system, AIA document numbers include the letter of the Series, and three digits representing document Type, project type or Delivery method, and Sequence, plus the year of the Edition. In the following example, AIA Document B101™–2007, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect, is a prime owner/architect agreement in the Conventional (A201) family, and is first in a sequence of owner/architect agreements that includes AIA Documents B102™–2007, B103™–2007, B104™–2007, B105™–2007, B106™–2010 and B108™–2009.

Drafting principles        

AIA documents are grouped by family and by series. This dual method of organizing the documents makes it quicker and easier for users to select the documents appropriate for their projects. Documents in the same family are coordinated to tie together the various legal and working relationships on the same project types or delivery methods. They are linked by common terminology and procedures and may also adopt one another by reference. The relevant terms of AIA Document A201™–2007, for example, are adopted by reference in several agreements including AIA Documents A101™–2007, A102™–2007, A103™–2007, A401™–2007, B101™–2007 and B103™–2007. Documents in each series reflect the purpose of the document. For example, owner/contractor agreements are found in the A series, and contract administration forms are in the G series. For purposes of reference and information, sample copies of current AIA documents are contained in the Architect's Handbook of Professional Practice, available online at the AIA Bookstore or through local components. Sample copies of all the current documents are included on the CD-ROM that accompanies the Handbook. The Handbook also includes a section titled the "Documents Finder," which provides a brief synopsis of each document, organized by family.

Revision policy

AIA documents are intended for nationwide use and are not drafted to conform to the law of any one state. With that caveat, however, AIA documents provide a solid basis of contract provisions that are enforceable under the existing law at the time of publication. A significant body of case law concerning contracts for design and construction is based largely on the language of AIA standard forms. Those court decisions are discussed in The American Institute of Architects Legal Citator, published by Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. Recent cases are summarized and all cases are keyed to the specific provisions in the AIA documents to which they relate.  The AIA's drafting process is a thorough and deliberate approach that strives to achieve a fair balance among interests affected by the contract documents. The process is based on the cooperative input of a Documents Committee of practicing architects who have been appointed based on their experience, regional diversity, and variety of practices. Beyond the input of these committee members, the AIA also solicits feedback from owners, general contractors, engineers, subcontractors, sureties, lawyers, insurers, and others. By considering the opinions of a broad range of disciplines, the AIA strives to publish documents that account for the best interests of all parties affected by them.