By AIA Contract Documents
December 20, 2022
The short answer is that typically the Owner is responsible for dealing with hazardous materials encountered on site. The primary justification for this allocation of risk is that the Owner, through its acquisition of the property and/or on-going ownership of the property, has had the unique opportunity to investigate the site and determine if there were any hazardous material present. Additionally, because identification and remediation of hazardous materials requires special procedures, equipment, and licensing, it is inappropriate for a typical construction contractor to bear responsibility for identifying and handling hazardous materials.
Accordingly, it is useful for a contractor to understand the typical scope of the owner’s responsibility.
The owner’s responsibilities related to hazardous materials, however, are not unlimited. For example, the owner will not be responsible for hazardous materials the contractor (or anyone working for the contractor) brings on site, so long as those materials were not required by the contract documents. Further, for those hazardous materials brought on site that are required by the contract documents, the owner will not be responsible to the extent of the contractor’s fault or negligence.
For a full understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the contractor and owner relative to hazardous materials, please see Section 10.3 of A201- 2017 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.
AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.