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Updated AIA contracts clarify the role of construction managers

The revised documents refine how CMs serve as general contractors or project advisers.

November 05, 2019 |

This schematic shows how the family of Construction Manager as Constructor contracts works as a delivery method. Images: AIA

On Nov. 15, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) plans to release its new and updated Construction Manager as Constructor (CMc) family of contract documents. Next February, the AIA will release its updated Construction Manager as Adviser (CMa) family of documents.

These documents get updated on a 10-year revision cycle.

The AIA divides its contract documents into nine families, organized by delivery method. These include families for design-bid-build (the most widely used contract model), design-build, and integrated project delivery, as well as contracts that specifically cover interiors, small projects, and digital practices. The design-bid-build document family was updated in 2017.

Under CMc, the Construction Manager comes on the project during the preconstruction phase to provide early collaboration. In the construction phase, the CM does the construction work, as if it were a General Contractor.

Under the CMa, the Construction Manager is also retained by the owner for early collaboration during the preconstruction phase. But the CMas don’t perform the construction work. The CMa documents are designed for complex projects with more than one prime contractor. During the construction phase, the CMa coordinates and manages the contractors, as well as providing cost estimating and other functions.

Susan Van Bell, Senior Director and Counsel – AIA Contract Documents Content, tells BD+C that the AIA solicited input from CM practitioners about revisions to the documents so that they’d better reflect current practices.

From those conversations, CMs suggested that one change they wanted was a way to tailor the document for the scope of preconstruction services without having the standard contract language be too restrictive.

Van Bell says the 2019 CMc revision addresses this issue by inserting “fill points” into the contract where more preconstruction details can be identified. The update also makes some edits to the standard preconstruction services scope.

A schematic of the family of documents for Construction Manager as Advisor.


The CMc documents now include insurance and bond exhibits, which had been added to the design-bid-build document family in its 2017 revision. Van Bell says there are also new exhibits for both the CMc and CMa documents that cover the role of the CM in sustainable projects.

The revised CMa documents clarify the CMa’s role in such areas as analyzing and coordinating the contractors’ schedules. The CMa is also the responsible party for managing a project’s digital information systems. “We clarified the communication process,” Van Bell says. The 2017 updates that required the establishment of protocols for digital data and BIM were carried into the CMc and CMa updates.

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