5 Legal Documents All Construction Business Owners Should Use
Find valuable protection in these standard, but lesser-known documents

Have you ever spent hours drafting a contract, only to discover that there is already a standard contract that would have worked well, or at least given you a good starting point? While there are several documents that contractors use regularly, there are also other lesser-known legal documents that owners may find useful. The following five standard legal agreements are worth considering to help clean up your contract processes.

1. C103-2015 Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner & Consultant without a Predefined Scope of Consultant’s Services

C103–2015 is a standard form of agreement between owner and consultant that contains terms and conditions, including those related to copyrights and licenses, claims and disputes, termination or suspension and compensation. C103-2015 does not include a scope of consultant’s services, which must be inserted in Article 2 or attached as an exhibit. Separation of the scope of services from the owner/consultant agreement allows users the freedom to append alternative scopes of services.

2. C201-2015 Standard Form of Consultant’s Services: Land Survey

C201-2015 is a scope of services document that an owner can use to hire a land surveyor. In many instances, an owner will be expected to provide the design team with a survey of the property where the project is located. This is the case in the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) B101-2017, Owner/Architect Agreement, as the responsibility to provide surveys rests with the owner, not the design team. C201-2015 should be used in conjunction with C103-2015 to form a complete agreement. In this relationship, the owner provides the legal description of the property to the surveyor. C201-2015 specifically describes the surveyor’s scope of basic services and includes check boxes for whether the surveyor is to provide a boundary survey or American Land Title Association (ALTA)/American Congress of Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) boundary survey, as well as whether a topographical survey is to be included. Among the detailed survey requirements, location of utilities and flood plains are to be included in the surveyor’s services. Examples of additional services include subdivision plats, laser scanning and construction layouts.

3. C202-2015 Standard Form of Consultant’s Services: Geotechnical Engineering

The C202-2015 agreement is between the owner and its geotechnical engineer and should also be paired with C103-2015. In this relationship, the owner provides the legal description of the property along with (1) access to the property; (2) documents in the owner’s possession, such as other geotechnical reports and surveys that contain relevant information about the existing condition of the property; (3) and development objectives for the project, including a general description of the project and anticipated design loads of the improvements being considered. The geotechnical engineer performs the explorations and testing; analyzes the information gathered during exploration and testing; and prepares the geotechnical report for the owner’s use. Further, the geotechnical engineer prepares an evaluation of existing foundations and recommendations for proposed foundations, consults with the owner and the owner’s other consultants regarding geotechnical aspects of the project and provides comments on the geotechnical aspects of the required design submittals prepared by the owner and the owner’s other consultants. Provisions for additional services can include ground motion studies, geologic mapping and construction phase testing and inspections, among other services.

4. E204-2017 Sustainable Projects Exhibit

The new E204-2017 Sustainable Projects Exhibit is incorporated into the agreements between the parties for a project that has a sustainable objective. The architect’s scope of services includes conducting a sustainability workshop to review and discuss potential sustainability certifications, establish the sustainable objective, discuss potential sustainable measures and examine strategies for their implementation. The architect then prepares a sustainability plan that incorporates the information gained from the workshop. For the purposes of registering the project with the certifying authority, the architect acts as the owner’s agent and collects and submits all required documentation to the certifying authority. Each party is responsible for performing their own sustainable measures as outlined in the sustainability plan. The architect incorporates the appropriate sustainable measures into the instruments of service and, during construction, advises and consults with the owner regarding the progress of the project toward achievement of the sustainable measures. Likewise, the contractor performs sustainable measures assigned to it in the sustainability plan, including considering any requests for substitution or any discovered condition that will adversely affect the contractor’s achievement of the measures.

Similarly, the owner performs its sustainable measures, including compliance with the certifying authority’s requirements, as applicable, and providing the services of a commissioning agent.
Achievement of the sustainable objective is not a condition precedent to the issuance of a certificate of substantial completion or the issuance of final certificate for payment, although neither issuance relieves the contractor of its obligation to fulfill its responsibilities related to achievement of the sustainable objective.

5. Insurance & Bonds Exhibit

The Insurance and Bonds Exhibit is attached to any correspondingly numbered agreement between owner and contractor and lists the insurance and bonds that each of the parties is required to purchase and maintain throughout the project. Regarding bonds, the contractor is required to provide to the owner performance and payment bonds in the amounts that the owner designates in the form.

Regarding insurance, the owner’s insurance incudes liability, property, optional extended property and other optional insurance, such as cyber security. The contractor’s insurance may include: commercial general liability, automobile liability, workers’ compensation, employers’ liability, Jones Act and the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, professional liability insurance when the work involves professional services, pollution liability insurance, maritime liability insurance, manned and unmanned aircraft and other optional insurance, such as railroad protective liability.

These are just a few standard documents that owners may want to consider using on upcoming projects. For a full list of AIA’s standard documents that might be relevant to your construction project, visit aiacontracts.org.