November 22, 2022

What are the critical differences between ConsensusDocs (200) and the American Institute of Architect’s (A201) General Terms and Conditions? The chart below highlights some of the differences between ConsensusDocs 200 and the AIA A201 on key terms and conditions for general construction projects. An at-a-glance comparison of these issues will help in considerations for manuscript or bespoke construction contract negotiations as well.  

AIA A201 vs. ConsensusDocs 200 General Terms and Conditions:  

Contract Documents at-a-Glance 

  American Institute of Architect’s A201  ConsensusDocs 200 
Drafted By   Architects and staff to the AIA.  Written and endorsed by 40+ leading industry associations. 
Mission  To further the architectural profession.   To identify best practices to advance project results. 
Role of the Owner  Passive. Their primary role is to pay.   Active to help ensure the owner’s goals are met.  
Results  Over a hundred years of court decisions from parties fighting over AIA language in legal disputes.   No reported court decisions after being used on over $60 billion of construction projects.   
Communications  Communications are funneled through the architect as the “protector” of the owner. “Architect” is mentioned almost 300 times.   Direct Party communications are encouraged and required before proceeding to dispute resolution. 
Structure  Separated general terms and conditions contract document from the agreement.  Two documents to administer   One integrated document that includes general conditions and the agreement.  
Dispute Resolution   Creates an Initial Decision Maker (IDM), which is the Architect by default.   


Requires a tiered mitigation process with direct communications between the Parties. 
Indemnification   Comparative negligence but no offsetting of concurrent negligence. Each party pays for its defense costs.   The parties are only responsible for their comparative negligence. Defense costs are commensurate with the percentage of fault.  
Waiver of Consequential Damages  Complete waiver.  Limited Waiver with blanks for potential items excluded from the waiver.  
Lien Waivers   Permits an unconditional lien waiver when applying for a progress payment and before final payment.    Prohibits unconditional lien waivers.  
Order of Precedence   No precedence. Likely to be the most expensive interpretation by A/E.   Established in the contract. Generally, the most recent contract documents are given a higher precedential value.