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Construction Law: Do we have a consensus?

Historically, more design and construction projects have been completed using American Institute of Architects (“AIA”) contracts than any other standard form of agreement. Only recently have other trade organization and associations made significant in roads into the AIA’s lock on standard form agreements. Despite the development of a suite of high-quality forms, the Associated General Contractors of America has historically failed to establish a significant presence in the sale of standard form design and construction contracts. However, in 2006, the AGC introduced its new DocuBuilder® AGC Contract Document Software. The documents are available by license agreement through the Internet or on CD-ROM. The software is easy to negotiate and edit, and the contracts provide a reasonably fair and balanced alternate source to the AIA Documents for the consideration of attorneys involved in drafting design and construction contracts. The most recent addition to the list of standard form documents currently available is the family of documents known as the ConsesusDOCS. (“DOCS” is an acronym for Designers, Owners, Contractors, Sureties.) The ConsensusDOCS are specifically marketed as an alternative to the AIA Documents. ConsensusDOCS literature promotes the documents as “The New United Voice of Construction Contracts” and asks: “What if owners, contractors, subcontractors, designers, and sureties could all agree that a standard contract was fair to all parties?” While the “D” in DOCS represents involvement by “designers,” notable by their absence are the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). The AIA and the NSPE represent the largest and most established voices in the “design” communities. Their absence from participation in the ConsesusDOCS, while significant, is hardly surprising since both the AIA and the NSPE publish their own documents and earn significant annual profits from the sale of those documents. Comment on the omission of the AIA and NSPE is not, however, intended to discount the validity of the ConsensusDOCS. In fact, one searching for contracts with a specific bias or orientation as “pro-owner,” “pro-designer,” or “pro-contractor” would do well to search elsewhere since the drafters of the ConsensusDOCS have made a creditable, good-faith effort to produce contracts that are “in the best interest of a successful project” as opposed to contracts that advance the specific agendas of any given group. The lawyers at O’Reilly Law Group are familiar with all standard design and construction documents including the ConsensusDocs and can assist designers, constructors, and owners who have been presented with a standard form agreement in understanding that agreement and suggesting appropriate modifications to suit the needs and risks of individual projects. Contact us at O’Reilly Law Group in Las Vegas today at 702-382-2500. Visit www.oreillylawgroup.com for more information about our Las Vegas law firm.

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