Steven B. Lesser is a shareholder in Becker & Poliakoff, P.A., in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Belinda A. Bacon is an associate at the firm and a professional engineer. They are both board certified in construction law by the Florida Bar Association and practice exclusively in the field of construction law and litigation.
Mr. Lesser serves as special construction litigation counsel to the School Board of Broward County. He is also on the construction panel of the American Arbitration Association. He can be reached at 954-987-7550 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Nov. 5, 2007, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued its 2007 version of Standard Form A201, which contains the AIA’s General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.1 This article addresses one of the major changes that the AIA has made to the 2007 version of A201 and explains why it is fraught with controversy and confusion.
That change involves the introduction of the concept of an “initial decision maker” (IDM) who is supposed to make decisions concerning claims that the predecessor version of A201 reserved to the architect.2 The IDM’s decision is subject to later review in mediation, and then in arbitration or litigation if mediation does not resolve the dispute.
Drafters of the 2007 A201 document endorsed the IDM procedure based on feedback by general contractors,3 who historically viewed the architect as biased because the owner selected and paid for the architect’s design and contract administration services. Moreover, many contractors also believed that architects could not impartially decide disputes involving allegations that the design documents were somehow defective, or that the architect failed to timely respond to contractor requests during the project.