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Uniform Contract

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UNIFORM CONTRACT We now come to the consideration of a spe cific form of contract which is here given for more definite illustration. The form selected is that adopted and recommended for general use by the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Builders, as revised in 1907. It reads as follows: "This Agreement, made the day of in the year one thousand nine hundredand . by and between , party of the first part (hereinafter designated the Contrac tor), and , party of the second part (hereinafter designated the Owner), "Witnesseth, that the Contractor , in consid eration of the agreements herein made by the Owner , agrees with the said Owner as follows: "Article I. The Contractor shall and will provide all the materials and perform all the work for the , as shown on the ings and described in the specifications prepared by , Architect, which drawings and specifications are identified by the signatures of the parties hereto, and become hereby a part of this contract." It will be noted that this first article calls for the identification of drawings and speci fications by the signatures of the parties. This article does not always work well in practice, for the reason that the drawings are usually made on tracing cloth, and the tracings are filed in the architect's office. Frequently the principal parties do not take the trouble to sign the plans and specifica tions; and when they do sign them, it is not feasible for them to sign all the altera tions and additions that are likely to be made during the progress of the work. If the arch itect wants a change made on the drawings, he generally makes a change, and it does not usually appear whether the change was made before or after the signature. Thus the value, as a legal instrument, of a signature on the drawings, is likely to become nil.

"Article II. It is understood and agreed by and between the parties hereto, that the work included in this contract is to be done under the direction of the said Architect, and that his de cision as to the true construction and meaning of the drawings and specifications shall be final. It is also understood and agreed by and between the parties hereto, that such additional drawings and explanations as may be necessary to detail and illustrate the work to be done are to be fur nished by said Architect, and they agree to con form to and abide by the same so far as they may be consistent with the purpose and intent of the original drawings and specifications referred to in Article I.

"It is further understood and agreed by the parties hereto, that any and all drawings and specifications prepared for the purpose of this contract by the said Architect are and remain his property, and that all charges for the use of the same, and for the services of said Architect, are to be paid by the said Owner." The provision that the architect's decision as to the true construction and meaning of the drawings and specifications shall be final, is liable to result in a great deal of trouble unless all parties understand the same thing when the contract is prepared. The architect is supposed to know what is meant when he made his drawings and prepared his specifica tions; but the true intent and meaning of the drawings and specifications as a business proposition between the contractor and the owner, depend upon what was standard practice at the time the contract was signed; upon what the contractor under stood that he was bidding on; and upon what an ordinary third person, skilled in the business, would take the plans and specifica tions to mean. If the architect did not mean what he said, or did not say what he meant, it seems unfair to make the contractor finan cially responsible for the architect's errors; and to appoint the architect the arbitrator as to what his own instrument means is to ap point a more or less biased judge. Notwith standing these objections, it has heretofore been impossible to find a more satisfactory way of settling differences as to what plans and specifications mean, than by the above clause. If the matter should be left to a board of arbitrators or to an unprejudiced third person, it would involve explanations and probably a good deal of delay—which is the reason why the first clause of Article II remains to-day in standard practice.

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