Volume 43, Issue 2 - February 2008

Issue @ Hand

Striving for Consensus 

Glazing contractors who use the document AIA A401 as one of the myriads of documents they sign when contracting for work would be well served to continue reading.

For many years, AIA A401-1997 has been a miracle of cooperation. Recognizing the incredible diversity of documents that subcontractors were asked to sign, the architects (American Institute of Architects [AIA]) were joined by the general contractors (the Associated General Contractors [AGC]) and subcontractors (the American Subcontractors Association [ASA]) to create a document that met the needs of all three groups and was deemed fair by all three groups. This was no easy feat. 

Fast-forward ten years. A401-1997 is effectively dead and replaced by a document called A401-2007 that most glazing contractors would find onerous. This leaves a lot of people to ask: what happened?

Architects have always been Teflon professionals. They have worked hard to move any liability from them and on to the general and his subcontractors. The generals, in turn, have toiled to move much of their risk on to the glazing subcontractors (there aren’t a lot of other professionals who sign a “pay when paid” contract). The generals also work to include subcontractors in any legal proceedings against them. This attitude, coupled with the increase in litigation involving high-rise buildings (try getting a bond for a condo job these days) led the generals and, more importantly, the architects to more risk dispersion when it came time to update A401-1997.

So when the dust settled, the new A401-2007 included provisions just too unfair to subcontractors, most notably a clause that adds additional insureds. The article on page 60 by ASA’s general counsel, Donald Gregory, gives you more details about this and one result in particular—the new ConsensusDOCS, which are endorsed by many of the associations that previously supported the AIA contract documents. It is imperative that you know that, despite protestations from the architects and general contractors, A401-2007 is not merely an update. It should be treated as a brand new document and glazing contractors should be thoroughly familiar with the new changes and provisions before signing it, if they decide to do so.

In an effort to help, an expanded version of the article, along with additional hints and suggestions can be found online at www.usglassmag.com. Each month, USGlass adds expanded information, background and even video in the Only Online section on the web. Just go to www.usglassmag.com and click on Only Online in the upper right corner to get this month’s extras.

In addition, USGlass is also offering a 13-page guide to the proposed changes to the International Residential Code and International Commercial Code going on this month in Palm Springs, Calif. The Guide details all the changes that could affect our industry. I am happy to send you a pdf of the document. Just shoot us an e-mail at codes@glass.com.

Reading these documents could help save your business untold thousands of dollars and hours of heartache. 

Regards, Deb

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