Who Are the Owner’s “Separate Contractors”?

By AIA Contract Documents

September 14, 2022

In 2017, the AIA Contract Documents program introduced the defined term of “Separate Contractor” in the A201-2017 General Conditions of the Contract for Construction. Previously, although the concept was embedded within the A201, it was not specifically defined or capitalized. Let’s explore this new term.

Terms that are capitalized in the AIA’s document library include those that are (1) specifically defined, (2) the titles of numbered articles, or (3) the titles of other documents published by the American Institute of Architects. Here, the term Separate Contractors is specifically defined, which is why it is capitalized.

Technically, the term Separate Contractors is defined as “other contractors retained by the Owner under separate agreements.” The A201’s structure allows the Owner to perform construction or operations related to the project, either with the Owner’s own forces, or with Separate Contractors. In this way, the Owner can divide the project by phases, portions, or in some other manner, and then retain different contractors to perform different scopes of work. While this format can get complicated, the A201 requires all these entities to coordinate their work and cooperate on the project site.

The contractor is required to provide the Owner and the Separate Contractors a reasonably opportunity for introduction and storage of their materials and equipment at the project. In this manner, it is important for the contractor, the Owner, and the Owner’s Separate Contractors to communicate and coordinate their respective activities to ensure a successful and timely project delivery.

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.