AIA contract documents

In June 2022, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) contract documents program released new forms for people working on construction projects: Sworn Construction Statements and Lien Waiver and Release forms, as well as general counterparts for states without specific requirements.

In total, the organization released one generic sworn statement form, and four generic lien waiver forms:

  • Conditional Waiver and Release on Progress Payment
  • Unconditional Waiver and Release on Progress Payment
  • Conditional Waiver and Release on Final Payment
  • Unconditional Waiver and Release on Final Payment

Additionally, the AIA released forms specifically for the 12 states that regulate lien waivers by statute.

Sworn construction statements are documents that are usually requested by the owner with each payment application. They list the contractors and suppliers who are providing labor or materials to a project along with the amount owed and the remaining balance on each contract. This helps track payments and keep owners aware of potential payment issues.

Lien waivers are documents that are exchanged at the time of payment on a project, with the party making the payment usually requiring the receiving party to sign a lien waiver. Generally, these documents confirm that payment has been received on a project, and serve as a way of waiving future lien rights on a project.

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Impact for contractors & subs

The AIA is one of the largest professional organizations in the construction industry, and AIA contract documents are some of the most widely-used standard forms governing building projects. Previously, AIA’s suite of documents did not include lien waivers or a sworn statement form, leaving it up to the prime contractor or the property owner to provide their own versions. 

The documents’ previous lack of availability left the door open for miscommunication and costly mistakes. In the 38 states without regulated waiver forms, lien waivers are often the subject of payment lawsuits. Confusing language or predatory risk-shifting practices can cause a payee to waive more than they originally intended. In a notable lien waiver case, a Texas contractor ended up losing over $2 million in payment – and paying an additional $10 million in legal fees. 

While the new AIA forms are likely to improve standardization in the industry, they do not entirely close the door to potential disputes. Because the AIA allows their contract documents to be customized, any party signing lien waivers in exchange for payment should read the language closely. If any additions or changes were made to the AIA’s generic form, the contractor should consult with an experienced construction attorney

Though the addition of these documents is helpful, it’s important to note that AIA forms can also be expensive to obtain. Certain contractors may want you to use AIA forms but, if not, the requirements for these documents are directly laid out in state statutes. Contractors can always create their own forms or use Levelset’s free templates for both lien waivers and sworn statements.