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When a discrepancy presents between Contract Drawings and Specifications, does Specification take precedent?

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First, the AIA A201 General Conditions has a stipulation under 3.2.2 that states, “The contractor shall promptly report to the Architect any errors, inconsistencies, or omissions discovered by or made known to the Contractor as a request for information in such form as the Architect may require.”

AIA contract documents practices maintain that order of precedence clauses are typically not called for – the drawings and specifications are a unified whole, and any conflict between or within them is subject first to interpretation by the architect/engineer, and if not resolved, is subject to resolution through the claims process.

The AIA Document A201 (General Conditions) deems the Contract Documents as complementary ( see § 1.2.1 -“The Contract Documents are complementary, and what is required by one shall be as binding as if required by all….”) without including an order of priority to determine which Contract Document truly governs a conflict. The AIA does not really favor establishing an order of precedence; but, if supplementary conditions are added to modify the A201 General Conditions, the AIA does suggest model language:

*§ In the event of conflicts or discrepancies among the Contract Documents, interpretations will be based on the following priorities:

1. Modifications.
2. The Agreement.
3. Addenda, with those of later date having precedence over those of earlier date.
4. The Supplementary Conditions.
5. The General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.
6. Division 1 of the Specifications.
7. Drawings and Divisions 2–49 of the Specifications.
*8. Other documents specifically enumerated in the Agreement as part of the Contract Documents.


This is very extensive and exactly what I’m looking for, thank you! Just some follow-up questions if you don’t mind.

In an unmodified AIA contract scenario, is this where the Architect is called upon to be an Initial Decision Maker? even though the discrepancy began with the Architect…

In event that the situation is now going through the claims process. Which part of the contract would most likely be brought in question, and which party is most likely to be at fault? I understand this might not be a simple question to answer.

Thank you in advance for your experities.


The Architect as an Initial Decision Maker is contained within Section 1.1.8 of A201. This defines the Initial Decision Maker as “the person identified in the Agreement to render initial decisions on Claims in accordance with section 15.2 and certify termination of the Agreement under section 14.2.2. In the instance of your question, I would assume the Initial Decision Maker requirement would matter if the discrepancy within the contract documents is creating a claim or just a typical change order. Every instance is relative and can be viewed as subjective without a particular case to review.

For testing purposes I would familiarize yourself and concentrate on the A101 Owner Contractor Agreement, A201 General Conditions, as well as the B101 Owner Architect Agreement standard language regarding claims, Initial Decision maker, Mediation, Arbitration and Litigation.