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Drafting a comprehensive contract document is the most significant action a contractor, risk manager or construction adviser can take to protect a project and minimize financial and legal risks. Online training resources can demystify the process.

Construction contracts can be confusing and time-consuming, especially for those without a legal background. But that doesn’t mean a lawyer needs to be consulted for every construction contract. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) publishes nearly 200 standardized contract templates of agreements and forms that cover nearly every project delivery method in the building and construction industry. AIA’s Contract Documents® website offers a variety of free guides, informative webinars and other reference materials to help choose the right contracts for specific project types.

Get Ready for Digital DataOne of the biggest developments in the design and construction industry during the past decade has been the increased transmission and exchange of digital data, including the use of BIM. In 2013, the AIA released an updated set of digital practice documents that serve as a guideline for working with BIM and other digital practices. They address any issues that may arise throughout a project and help reduce barriers that often hinder BIM adoption. The Guide, Instructions and Commentary to the 2013 AIA Digital Practice Documents gives an in-depth look at the new digital practice documents and provides instructions on how to use them most effectively.

Guidelines for Going Green

With more and more environmental certifications and green building codes appearing every year, there’s every reason to believe the push for environmentally friendly building and construction practices will continue to grow. The AIA’s Guide for Sustainable Projects offers general guidance on the risks and responsibilities associated with sustainable projects and sustainable project documents. Separated into three sections, the guide addresses the major considerations of sustainable projects, gives a detailed overview of AIA Contract Documents’ Industry Standard Sustainable Project documents, and concludes by providing a detailed example of a modern sustainability plan. The AIA also offers a number of on-demand webinars that cover issues related to sustainable projects, including:

On-Demand Webinars

In addition to free guides, AIA Contract Documents offers numerous on-demand webinars on a wide range of subjects relevant to building professionals on the AIA Education Portal. The courses are taught by experienced industry practitioners who discuss real-world scenarios, how-tos and best practices. Each course description includes precise learning objectives. Specific webinars of interest to contractors and construction managers include:

Additional Resources and Support

  • The AIA Contract Documents Support page has a list of FAQs, help videos and contact information for AIA’s dedicated support staff. For answers to questions about the legal language in a particular document, email docinfo@aia.org. This inbox is manned by experienced construction attorneys and document specialists who will explain and interpret portions of any document.
  • For assistance selecting the best contract for the project, check out the AIA Documents-on-Demand Plus page, to purchase single-use, fully editable documents, and to see sample PDF previews of the nearly 200 documents that AIA offers.
  • The Help Me Select an AIA Template tool narrows down the document for the project by asking basic questions about delivery method, parties and payment method. For larger firms, AIA also offers customized online document training on a by-request basis. Contact docsed@aia.org to inquire.
  • For Contractors Page has information on contract documents for contractors.
When selecting a contract for a project or for questions about how an agreement or form works, explore the AIA selection of useful document resources. Designed for busy building professionals, AIA Contract Documents’ guides and webinars will help demystify the contract process and ensure the right document is chosen every time.

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