The contract documents published by the American Institute of Architects are probably the most widely used private construction contract forms in this country. They assign a unique role to the project architect. Although retained by the project owner, the architect serves as the neutral arbiter of contractor compliance with the requirements of the contract.
The architect’s approval, or certification, is required for many significant events: progress payments to the contractor; release of retainage to the contractor; acceptance of the contractor’s work. But it is not just the contractor that is dependent on architect certification. It can also be a prerequisite to the project owner’s exercise of its contractual rights.
The owner’s dependence on architect certification is not illusory. In a recent Indiana case, a project owner terminated a contractor for default. The owner neglected, however, to obtain certification from the architect that sufficient cause existed to justify termination. Without the architect’s certification, the owner could not hold the contractor responsible for breach of contract.
What has your experience been with the role of the project architect under the AIA contract documents? Are most arbitrators professional and objective in their role as neutral arbiter of contract compliance? Or is there an inherent bias toward the project owner who has retained them? I invite your comments.
Featured in Next Week’s Construction Claims Advisor:
- Short Listing Procedure Slapped by Pennsylvania High Court
- Court Addresses AIA Construction Manager Agreement
- Limited Liability Company Substituted for Sole Proprietor