Trustees of the Associated Specialty Contractors (ASC), Bethesda, Md., recently voted to endorse the 2007 update to the AIA Document A401-2007 Standard Form of Agreement between Contractor and Subcontractor. Published by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., these contract documents (unveiled in November) establish the contractual relationship between the contractor and subcontractor and set forth responsibilities of both parties and list their respective obligations. Endorsing the AIA A401 for more than 30 years, ASC participated in the revision process of the latest version of the contract documents over the past three years.

Following are just a few of the changes sought and supported by ASC, according to Daniel G. Walter, president of ASC:

  • The general contractor is now obligated to furnish (at no cost to subcontractors) all temporary facilities, equipment, and services except as specifically identified. Previous wording had resulted in unexpected charges to subs for hoisting, temporary power, and other job-site services.

  • The A401 allows a subcontractor to reach agreement with the general contractor as to whether arbitration or litigation is to be used for binding resolution of disputes.

  • It also limits a subcontractor's additional insured liability to losses caused by the sub's negligent acts or omissions.

“Using model contract documents benefits electrical contractors by savings time and money,” says Walter. “They are better understood than locally developed documents. The legal community is also more familiar with them and may be able to review them more efficiently, saving the contractor legal fees.”

When asked how these documents differ from the new ConsesnsusDOCS contracts recently launched by The Associated General Contractors of America in conjunction with other trade associations, Walter explains that although both documents were designed using different processes, they have input and involvement from stakeholders in the construction process. Having two sets of standards, both of which are voluntary, will not create confusion in the marketplace, Walter maintains.

“Most electrical contractors are presented contracts that are developed by local attorneys or general contractors,” he says. “These contracts often have been modified many times trying to fix problems that occurred on past projects. Using model documents provides the parties an efficient way to reach a fair agreement. The use of either set of documents is a better choice than being forced to use most locally developed documents.”