Do you use AIA Contract Documents? Let’s talk agreements…

Several years ago, we constructed a new Proposal document that doubles as our Owner / Architect Agreement. It’s 5 pages long and, together with a separate 2 page “Standard Terms and Conditions” document, it includes all the protections of the AIA document… but looks and reads much friendlier.

Fivecat Studio specializes in large residential additions and alterations, so we’re dealing with homeowners. Back when we used AIA Documents, we spent way too much time negotiating contracts (or waiting for our prospects to recover from their shock). Very often, the agreement ended up going to their attorney for review and, of course, revision. It was never a pleasant experience.

We haven’t met any new attorneys since we moved to our friendly document and the time between proposal and commencement has been greatly reduced. It’s one of the best business decisions we ever made.

How about you? Are you using AIA Documents, or another agreement? Are you using agreements?

Please share.


13 Responses to “Do you use AIA Contract Documents? Let’s talk agreements…”

  1. 1 Greg La Vardera April 28, 2011 at 7:02 AM

    What AIA doc were you using? The small project form used to be only 4 pages long, the revised one only 3. Of that 3 one is the cover page, and one is the signature page. There is only one page of terms and conditions. Its very “friendly” and I’ve had very few instances of it going to an attorney, only with Inc. clients, and even then rarely a revision. The best agreement is one you sign, put in the file, and never look at again.

  2. 2 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP April 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM


    The AIA B105-2007 is still a three-page document and certainly would do the job. The benefit of our Proposal/Agreement document is that it eliminates the step between Proposal and Agreement.

    After an initial interview, we send the Proposal via email and if they want to work with us, they just sign it, send it back and we’re good to go.

    Before, we sent a Letter of Proposal, then if they wanted to proceed, we would need to prepare a second document for the Agreement. Then more review and more waiting.

    Today, our time between interview and project start is much more efficient.

    How do you handle your proposal?

  3. 3 Gregory Bryant April 28, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Hi Mark;
    Is this document something that you’d be willing to share? I would like to get a better idea of what a combination of the 2-documents looks like. I will understand if you’d prefer to keep it confidential.

  4. 4 Bob Swinburne April 28, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    I use my own as well. It was based on a number of other letter of agreements, some of which were from Entrep…(can’t spell it) Architect linked in discussions. The last page is where they sign. The middle is boilerplate and not scary, There is a section on standard fees plus a section where I add in project specifics and the very first part is project synopsis. Other than the part where the clients go into shock about fees (perhaps I should cut that rate in half by cutting my rates to $10/hour – then only 25% would go into shock) It seems okay other than the occasional client who wants to bargain. The AIA contract requires me to carry insurance.

  5. 5 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP April 28, 2011 at 9:29 PM


    I’d be happy to share our proposal. Send me an email at

  6. 6 Greg La Vardera April 29, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Mark, I write a simple two page proposal in the form of a letter with a third page attached that is a breakdown of my time. Along with the proposal I send a blank copy of the agreement form. The key information in proposal transfers directly to the blank spaces to be filled in on the AIA agreement form.

    So when they want to go ahead they have already seen and reviewed the agreement form. I just fill it out, attach the proposal which reinforces that they are getting what was promised in the letter, and we are good to go.

    I like your single step method as well, but I actually think that a third party written agreement form instills more confidence in the people that are asked to sign it.

  7. 7 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP April 29, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    Greg, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to see a copy of your documents. If not, no problem. My email;

  8. 8 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP April 29, 2011 at 9:02 PM

    Gregory, I posted copies of our proposal documents in today’s post. I hope you find them useful.

  9. 10 Greg La Vardera May 1, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Share my contract form? You know the AIA document. Or you mean my proposal form? I really don’t have a blank – more of a format. I could make up something generic if I have the time. But, I don’t right now..!

  10. 11 Mark Rudolf August 18, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Does anyone have a Design/Build Agreement for use when working for a contractor providing Design/Build services to a client? The AIA has B143 but I think it is quite long too. ANy help would be appreciated!

  11. 12 Earl Hilchey September 28, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    I download these forms when they were first offered. and finally have the chance to use a modified version of this contract for use on a couple of small commercial projects I’m currently working on. Things are working well. I like the descriptive brevity for these design phases and I sense the client is less intimated.

  1. 1 Our Architectural Services Proposal « Entrepreneur Architect Trackback on April 29, 2011 at 2:36 PM
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