Terms of Engagement 101 Part II: Types of Standard Contracts
Note: This is part two of Terms of Engagement 101 – please review part one before reading.
In part one of Terms of Engagement 101, we provided a summary of the basic requirements related to an architect’s terms of engagement, including why written contracts need to be in place with a client before ‘architecture’ begins. In this follow-up article, we discuss the range of standard form agreements available, and provide information and advice on how to select the most suitable contract for your project.
Why Use Standard Contracts?
A written agreement is required when practising architecture in British Columbia, as outlined in part one of this series. Bylaw 28.0 (PDF) and 28.1 (PDF) establish the requirement for an architect’s professional services to be based upon and consistent with an approved standard form of agreement. Furthermore, Bylaw 34.10 (PDF) states that an architect cannot provide services until retained and instructed by the client. Having a clear contract that stipulates both architect and the client obligations helps lead to a smooth-running project. The use of non-standard contracts can lead to disputes. Often,critical issues are not addressed in the optimism of a new commission, such as dispute resolution and termination. The standard contracts recognize these items must be covered, and address them in a fair and business-like way.
There are additional advantages to standard contracts. They are industry supported and maintained, making them familiar and predictable. They are insurable, mutually compatible, equitable and ethically grounded. They have professional authority as they are referenced in AIBC Bylaws.
Client-drafted contracts should be avoided, as they may be one-sided and not meet the bylaw requirement for a standard contract. The same can be said of architect-drafted contracts. If a client and/or architect have special circumstances that must be included in a client-architect agreement, these may be readily added to a standard contract by means of supplementary conditions. Any such revisions to a standard agreement should be reviewed by both your lawyer and insurer.
Types of Standard Contracts
These are some of the approved, commonly used forms of standard contracts:
- AIBC Standard Form of Contract 6C between Client and Consultant (AIBC 6C)
- Supplementary Conditions: 6C-H to AIBC Standard Form of Contract 6C Between Client and Consultant (For Healthcare Projects in British Columbia) (AIBC 6CH)
- AIBC Document 8C – 2010 Standard Short Form Contract Between Client and Consultant (AIBC 8C)
- Document Six 2017 Edition Canadian Standard Form of Contract for Architect’s Services (RAIC 6)
- Document Nine 2007 Edition Canadian Standard Form of Contract between Architect and Consultant (RAIC 9)
- CCDC 15 – 2013 Design Services Contract between Design-Builder and Consultant (CCDC 15)
- Document Seven 2005 Edition Canadian Standard Form of Agreement between Client and Architect Abbreviated Version (RAIC 7)
- Document Eight 2007 Edition Short Form Agreement between Client and Architect (RAIC 8)
- ACEC Document 31 Engineering Agreement between Client and Engineer (ACEC 31)
This article will provide an overview of the primary standard contacts used in British Columbia: AIBC 6C, AIBC 6C-H, AIBC 8C, RAIC 6, RAIC 9 and CCDC 15. For more information about RAIC 7 and RAIC 8, please visit the RAIC website. For information regarding ACEC 31, visit the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies.
AIBC 6C: This is a standard contract between client and consultant (which could be an architect or an engineer), and is used for projects with separately engaged consultants. The AIBC 6C contract is the most commonly used agreement for projects of any size and for standard architectural services (i.e., the design of a building), as it contains detailed descriptions of services and obligations. This agreement can be used for the client-architect contract, as well as for each client-consultant contract. When it is used for all consultants on a project, it reduces vicarious liability among the consultant team for each other’s errors and omissions, as it provides for consistent and compatible agreements with clearly defined scopes of work for each consultant. Document 6C’s scope of professional services is generally consistent with AIBC Bulletin 90: Minimum Scope of Architectural Services.
AIBC 6C-H: This document provides supplementary conditions to AIBC 6C. AIBC 6C-H is the preferred contract for use on government health care projects. It has been developed cooperatively with the health care authorities. However, privately commissioned health care projects would use AIBC 6C, as well as 6C-H, since the conditions in the later contract address the nature of health care authorities as clients, and their special requirements.
AIBC 8C: This is the standard short-form contract between client and consultant. This short form is recommended for use either as a stand-alone contract for very small, simple projects or limited scopes of service (i.e., feasibility study; building analysis; programming); or as an interim contract, permitting professional services to start while a more appropriate and complete contract is being prepared and executed. It can also be used by a client to engage all the consultants on a project.
It is important for both the architect and client to understand that this short form does not contain fully detailed provisions and, as a result, does not protect the architect’s or client’s interests in the same way as contract AIBC 6C or RAIC 6.
RAIC 6: Traditionally, this contract was used primarily on projects where the architect engaged the consultants. However, the recent update (2017) has made it suitable for both projects where consultants are engaged separately or, projects where consultants are engaged by the architect. It is the preferred client-architect agreement when the architect is retaining consultants, and it is often mandated by both federal and provincial government entities. Although AIBC-6C is recommended, RAIC 6 is the original foundation of AIBC 6C, and the current version of RAIC 6 is quite acceptable for use on any project in Canada, including British Columbia.
RAIC 9: When an architect hires each consultant, the agreement complementary to RAIC 6 for their engagement is RAIC 9. AIBC 8C can also be used by an architect or a client for the engagement of consultants. Architects are cautioned to consult with their insurers before engaging geotechnical consultants, environmental consultants, or land surveyors, as the architect may not be covered for these services. The retaining of these consultants by the architect is not prohibited, but architects must recognize the liability implications of doing so.
CCDC 15: This standard contract is used when a design-builder, who has contractual responsibility for both the design services and construction of a project, engages an architect. This document is compatible with the design-builder’s contract with the owner, CCDC 14. When an architect is engaged by a design-build entity using CCDC 14, CCDC 15 is the preferred client-architect agreement.
Which Contract to Use?
Review the standard contracts and develop an understanding of their differences. Determine which contract is most suitable in the circumstance. Discuss contract issues – fees and services, architect and client obligations – with your client before executing any agreement. Advise your client as to the recommended standard contract for the project. Take the opportunity to state clearly what you are going to do, as well as what you are not going to do. Many clients do not understand the standard scope of services of architects. Some clients expect more services than is standard, such as continuous construction supervision, or fewer services, such as documents for building permit, with no field review.
The AIBC offers architectural practice advice to any interested party – including assistance in determining which contract is appropriate for certain commissions. Members and firms are invited to send their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- AIBC Contracts
- CCDC Contracts and Forms
- RAIC Contract Documents
- AIBC Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (PDF)
- AIBC Bulletin 67: Terms of Engagement (PDF)
- AIBC Bulletin 90: Minimum Scope of Architectural Services (PDF)
- AIBC Practice Note 14: AIBC Standard Form of Contract 6C: Between Client and Consultant (PDF)
Issues of AIBC Regulatory Review will be published on a regular basis, announced via Connected and archived on the AIBC website.