Terms of Engagement 101 Part II: Types of Standard Contracts (Updated)
January 2020 Update: Please note this Regulatory Review was reissued in January 2020. The original version was published on November 1, 2017. The information included in the first edition became out of date after the Code of Ethics & Administrative Bylaws came into effect in October 2019. The information was updated to account for the amendments made to the AIBC Bylaws.
In this Regulatory Review, we provide an overview of the eight standard form contracts that have been approved by AIBC Council, 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. 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. Bylaw 28.0 (PDF) states that an architect is not permitted to provide architectural services to a client until the following conditions are satisfied:
- All terms and conditions of engagement have been confirmed in a written architectural services contract with the client, executed by the parties; and
- The client has been advised in writing:
- whether professional liability insurance is in place in relation to the architectural services to be provided for the commission;
- that the professional liability insurance policy in (i) is available for review by the client upon request; and
- that the contract “is in compliance with AIBC Bylaws, including the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.”
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 the eight standard form contracts approved by AIBC Council:
- AIBC 6C: AIBC Standard Form of Contract 6C between Client and Consultant
- AIBC 6C-H: Supplementary Conditions to AIBC Standard Form of Contract 6C Between Client and Consultant (For Healthcare Projects in British Columbia)
- AIBC 8C: AIBC Document Standard Short Form Contract Between Client and Consultant
- CCDC 15: Design Services Contract between Design-Builder and Consultant
- CCDC 30: Integrated Project Delivery Contract
- RAIC 6: RAIC Canadian Standard Form of Contract for Architect’s Services
- RAIC 9: RAIC Canadian Standard Form of Contract between Architect and Consultant
- ACEC 31: Engineering Agreement between Client and Engineer
This article will provide an overview of the eight standard form contracts approved by AIBC Council: AIBC 6C, AIBC 6C-H, AIBC 8C, RAIC 6, RAIC 9 and CCDC 15, CCDC 30 and ACEC 31.
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.
CCDC 30: CCDC 30 – Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) Contract addresses issues specific to integrated project delivery projects including scope allocation, payments, changes, conflict management, termination, insurance and contract security, and liability allocation. CCDC 30 also outlines the project management structure of an IPD project including the senior management team, project management team and project implementation teams.
ACEC 31: ACEC 31 – Engineering Agreement Between Client and Engineer outlines the key elements of the relationship between the consulting engineer and the client, including respective responsibilities, construction administration, certifications, and so forth.
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 email@example.com.
- 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 Guideline: 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.