Contracts Made Easier for Contractors


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As many of you may know or have experienced in your years as business owners, the agreements you enter with owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and even your clients can make the difference between project success or failure. And in these days of razor thin lines between managing costs and earning profits, you can’t afford to be on the wrong end of any disadvantageous contractual language.

Fortunately, the times have changed a lot over the past 10 years or so. No longer are all contractual agreements couched in terms that wholly protect one party and completely leave the other party vulnerable and out in the cold. There are resources that you can use, which offer fair and balanced documents, while at the same time are reasonably priced and won’t break the bank when you need a go-to form contract without having to hire a lawyer to do a full review (although, like any standard form contract, I always recommend having your counsel take a look, so that you can customize it to your specific needs.)

Contracts That Are Fair To All Parties
Several years ago, ACCA joined a coalition of other industry organizations who were working collaboratively to produce documents as an alternative to the AIA’s (American Institute of Architects) library of construction contracts already on the market. The idea was to broaden the offerings available to the industry as a whole, and to have these documents, known as ConsensusDocs™, serve as a source to enable all parties access to the best documents at attractive prices for better end results.

The process for developing these contracts is fairly simple, and the end results are rewarding. ConsensusDocs committees involved in the drafting stage are comprised of industry expert practitioners and professionals who do the hard work and come up with documents, which fairly allocate risk to reduce costly contingencies while aligning the entire project team with each other’s goals. Once out of committee, these legal documents are vetted and ultimately endorsed, most of the time, by over 40 leading design and construction associations, including ACCA, which represent owners, contractors, subcontractors, sureties, and design professionals. The list is too long to name them all, but among the national organizations behind these documents are ASA (American Subcontractors Association), PHCC (Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association), and ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.)

As we all know, the construction industry is ever-changing; and with those changes comes a need for new standard form contracts to address the various delivery systems, risk allocations, project responsibilities, and scope concerns. Rather than negotiate the same one-sided terms or draft legal projects from scratch, you can utilize these documents with a standard contract and take the hardest part of the negotiations out from the start. Further, the format used to draft these documents also allows for easy editing of the contract terms and reduces the time-consuming process of revising contracts, or even from the outset taking out most if not all of the terms, which are far from beneficial to you and your business.

What ConsensusDocs Has Available
ConsensusDocs are divided and organized into five categories or series, which address general contracting, collaborative (IPD/BIM), design-build, construction management, subcontracting, and program management. They are available through either an annual subscription providing unlimited access, or through “meter mode,” which provides a non-refundable debit account. The ConsensusDocs team is happy to provide excerpted sample contracts in their stable of documents, so that companies on the fence or undecided about whether they are worth the investment can take a look and work with an agreement free of charge in order to make that determination. Further, if you have multiple parties on a larger project that you may become involved in, not only can you suggest using ConsensusDocs to everyone on the project as being the most balanced substantively, but it is by far the easiest software to use for accurately tracking multiple revisions on the market today.

As a participant in the coalition, ACCA puts the interests of our members first and foremost in helping to deliver the best possible documents, which support their bottom lines. We understand that as stakeholders in your projects you have pressing legitimate concerns, and we work with the other trade associations and industry participants to address the acknowledged goal of equitably sharing the risks in what is an inherently risky endeavor. However, we are not an island and always welcome comments and input from our members.

We believe that ConsensusDocs are a refreshing change to a part of our industry formerly saddled with all of the risk and are the future we want to follow.

If you would like to send any input regarding the ConsensusDocs library of documents pleaseforward them to Hilary Atkins at hilary.atkins@acca.org. If you are interested in trying out the products themselves or have specific questions on how the products work and to access the soft – ware, email them to info@ConsensusDOCS. org, or call them at (866) 925-DOCS.

Hilary Atkins

Posted In: ACCA Now, Legal

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