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The Services Agreement

The primary rule for professional services is to work under an appropriate written contract. Many projects are begun with studies and evaluations that are documented with a letter agreement. These projects often evolve into full services, yet a written agreement more suitable for construction is not always executed. A variety of AIA owner-architect agreements[1] have been published expressly for construction phase activities which include safeguards that address the issues and conditions critical to the architect’s risk.
                                                                                                             
It is also advisable to include CCA services in any agreement where an architect’s seal is included for “Architect of Record” (AOR) services. Many states require a registered architect provide CCA services during construction, and including these services provides an opportunity to discover and resolve document issues and discrepancies more efficiently. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has published model law which requires a registered architect’s involvement during construction, and at least 20 states have adopted this requirement in some form.

Do not agree to services that cannot be reasonably provided. For example, it may not be reasonable to provide payment application reviews and certifications if site visits are excluded or significantly limited. Another example is insufficient time for review of proposed substitutions. Architects tend to maintain a time-proven library of specifications, using and developing them over many years. A request to review an unknown product or system with little or no performance history overnight or within a short time period may not allow sufficient time to determine conformance.

It is important to work solely within the contracted services in the agreement. When claims arise, the performance of design professionals is evaluated based on performance of the contracted services. Do not provide services that are not required in the owner-architect agreement. Moreover, if the owner waives services in the agreement, it is important to document the services and date they were waived.

Services Agreement Discussion Summary:

  • Do not provide services without a written agreement.
  • Do not agree to services that are not reasonable.
  • Use AIA documents.
  • Provide CCA services during construction (state statutes may require).
  • Provide all services in the contract.
  • Document owner-waived services in writing.

[1] www.aia.org, Contract Documents, Products


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