Beginner’s guide to using the online service

The AIA Contract Documents online service provides more than 200 construction contract templates from which you can generate editable drafts to be finalized.  The following guide will help you navigate the online service to manage your construction project data and create your own contract documents.

 

For live assistance with AIA Contract Documents and using the online service, visit our support page. To attend a live training on online service basics, register here

 

Table of contents

 

System requirements

Organization of the online service

Select a template

Create a project

Manage your contacts

Create and edit a document draft

Finalize a document draft

Enable digital signatures

Combining documents

Create a custom template

Understanding administrator functions for multi-user licenses

 

 

 

An active license is required to access AIA Contract Documents online service. You can log in using the e-mail address associated with your license. You can refer to the terms of service here.

If you do not have a license, you can purchase online or by calling 800-942-7732.

Basic system requirements:

  • An Internet connection (5 Mbps or higher recommended)
  • A current Windows or Mac operating system
  • The latest version of one of these web browsers: Firefox, Safari, Chrome or Edge
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 9 or higher

See additional system requirements here.

 

Organization of the online service

Home tab

The Home tab is what you see when you log into the online service. It provides quick and easy access to recently accessed documents and templates.

 

Projects tab 

The Projects tab lists all of your projects and displays project details and documents. You can perform a variety of tasks from this tab, including:

 

Template Library tab 

The Template Library tab contains all the standard AIA Contract Documents templates, which are the basis of your draft documents, and comprise the AIA text only. You can also create custom templates with your standard edits and then use them as the basis for your draft documents.

The Template Library contains several tools to help you browse and select the right templates for your project. The left sidebar groups available templates by series, family, and parties involved and shows the number of templates available for each. Clicking a link filters the available templates accordingly.

 

Contacts tab 

The Contacts tab is a central location to manage your contacts. The information stored for contacts you create is not project-specific, meaning that one contact can be associated with multiple projects. Once created, your contacts can be added to a project team, where their information will be populated into any document drafts created for that associated project

 

 

Selecting a template

Standard AIA templates are the basis of your draft documents, and comprise the AIA text only. These are stored in the Template Library under the AIA Templates tab. There are a variety of tools you can use to find the right templates for your project.

Once you’ve found the right template for your needs, you can create a document draft using that template in the Projects Tab.

 

The Template Library tab contains two “wizards” to assist you in selecting the right template:

  • Help Me Select an AIA Template, which helps you select a template by answering a series of progressively more detailed questions that filter the available set of AIA templates.
  • Side by Side Comparison, which lets you select up to three templates to compare.

All standard AIA templates are accompanied by a Preview option. Clicking Preview displays the complete AIA template in PDF format, which can be useful when selecting the right AIA template for your specific needs.

 

Create a project

The online service is project-centric, meaning that information and documents are created and stored by project.

When you create a project, the project information you enter is automatically populated into the document drafts you create for that project.

 

 

To create a project from the Projects tab:

  1. Go to the Projects tab. 
  2. Click Create New Project.
  3. Enter the general project information. This information will be automatically entered into the document drafts that you generate for the project.
  4. Click Save. After the project has been saved, you must click the Edit Project Data button to make further changes.
  5. Click Project Team, then Add Team Member. The project team lets you identify the various members of the project team and their respective categories, e.g., the owner and the architect, from your list of contacts. Once the team has been created, contact information will be automatically entered into the document drafts that you generate for the project. 

You can also create distribution lists, add subfolders and import extraneous files to help organize and manage your projects.

 

Manage your contacts

The Contacts tab is a central location to manage your contacts. The information stored for contacts you create is not project-specific, meaning that one contact can be associated with multiple projects. When you add a contact a project team, that contact’s information can be auto-populated into a document created for that project. 

You can sort your list of contacts by clicking the column headers.

 

 

To create a contact:

  1. Go to the Contacts tab.
  2. Click Create New Contact.
  3. Enter as much information for the firm and its representative as possible. This information will be automatically populated into your documents. 
  4. Click OK.

 

Adding and removing project team members

The project team lets you identify the various members of the project team and their respective categories, e.g., the owner and the architect, from your list of contacts. Once the team has been created, contact information will be automatically entered into the document drafts you generate for that project.

 

To add contacts to a project team:

  1. Go to the Projects tab.
  2. Select the desired project from the projects list and click Project Team in the Project Details window.
  3. Click Add Team Member
  4. Select the checkboxes for one or more of your contacts and click OK to add them to the Project Team. Click and drag headings to filter contacts.
  5. If the team member does not currently exist in your contacts, click Create Contact.

 

 

Creating and editing a draft document

You can create and edit draft documents by either editing offline in Microsoft Word or editing online in the Online Editor. While some forms require editing through the Online Editor, we otherwise recommend editing offline with your draft documents. When editing offline, you can download a template as a Microsoft Word document to edit. You can then import your edited draft to your project in the online service, where it can be finalized.

 

To create a draft agreement for a project:

  1. Go to the Projects tab.
  2. Click on the desired project in the projects list and click Create Document.
  3. Navigate to the desired template (on the StandardCustom, or Favorites sub-tab) and click the template name. You can sort the template list by ID, name, series, or family by clicking and dragging the column headers to the top.
  4. You may be prompted to select additional information about your document. Answer the questions and click OK.

 

Editing offline or online?

By default, your draft agreements will open as an offline draft in Microsoft Word, and your draft forms will open as online drafts in the Online Editor. To open your draft agreements in the Online Editor, adjust your default editor in your settings.

 

Editing an offline draft with Microsoft Word

When editing offline, the templates you select (with exception to some forms) will download as a Microsoft Word documents on your computer. You can make your edits directly in the Microsoft Word document and save the draft to your computer before importing it to your project and finalizing the draft in the online service. 

 

In the offline draft, fields that require input are shaded gray and are indicated by a pair of chevron characters (« and »). Do not delete these chevrons, as they are important for formatting in the final document and are removed automatically when a document is finalized. Document text outside the gray fields may also be edited. 

 

 

Note: The Share For Review feature and the ability to insert clauses from the Clause Library are not available when editing offline.

 

Editing a document in the Online Editor

You can enable the Online Editor in your settings by setting your default editor (found in your document settings) to “Always Online.” When you create a draft, you can make edits directly in the Online Editor, using the top toolbar to make additional edits and utilize the Online Editor tools.

 

 

Fields that require input are shaded gray and are indicated by a pair of chevron characters (« and »), which are removed automatically when a document is finalized. With exception to certain forms, document text outside the gray fields may also be edited. Learn more about online editing here

 

Finalize a document draft

Once you have edited and checked your document draft, you can generate a final version. Final documents are produced as a read-only PDF in which the variances from the standard AIA template are marked using the Variance Checker. You can also adjust your settings to include a digital signature placeholder on your final document. 

When generating a final document for certain A, B, C and E agreements, an initialing block is placed in the bottom left corner of each page of the final document to provide a place to initial each page of the agreement.

 

Finalizing an offline (Microsoft Word) draft

You can generate a final document by importing a draft document from your computer and finalizing it in the online service.  

 

 

To finalize an offline draft:

  1. Go to the Projects tab.
  2. Click Import File.
  3. Click Choose File(s).
  4. Select your AIA document draft(s) from your computer and click Import.
  5. Click Finalize to the right of the imported draft title.
  6. Select your preferred variance markup format and the name of the certification signatory, if applicable.
    1.  

 

Note: If you do not see the Finalize option, you may be looking at the Recent Activity preview. Click View All Documents to access the document management options. 

Finalizing an online draft

You can you can generate a final version of an online draft from within the Online Editor or from the Projects tab.

 

 

To finalize a document from within the Online Editor:

  1. Click Generate Final from the Online Editor sidebar.
  2. Select your preferred variance markup format and the name of the certification signatory, if applicable.
  3. Click OK.
    1.  

 

To finalize a document from the Projects tab:

  1. Go to the Projects tab.
  2. Click Finalize to the right of the online draft title.
  3. Select your preferred variance markup format and the name of the certification signatory, if applicable.
  4. Click OK.
    1.  

 

Note: If you do not see the Finalize option, you may be looking at the Recent Activity preview. Click View All Documents to access the document management options. 

 

Variance markup formats

You can select to have variances marked in one of two ways in your document:

Clean – All the additions to and deletions from the document are indicated in the margin, parallel to where the changes occur. The details of the changes are appended to the document in an Additions and Deletions Report (with page references).

Comparative – All changes are noted in-line in the document, marking additions with underlining and deletions with strike-throughs.

Designating the signing authority

When finalizing an agreement, the Signing Authority dialog will prompt you for the name of the certification signatory. Confirm the default name or provide another name. The D401 Certification of Document’s Authenticity should be signed by the person responsible for the content of the edits made to the document (typically, a project manager or principal). The person who implemented the edits should not be the signatory to the D401 unless that person is also responsible for the document content.

 

Executing a final document with a digital signature

You can allow for digital signature placeholders in your final documents in your document settings. If you selected the digital signature placeholder option, a new digital signature placeholder page is inserted in your final document immediately after the written signature block and the notation “see attached digital signatures page” is inserted in the written signature block. Refer to the digital signatures page for more information. 

 

Using the Variance Checker without finalizing a document

If you would like to view the variances in a document without generating a final, you can generate a variance checked draft in PDF or Microsoft Word format.

  1. Go to the Projects tab.
  2. Click View all documents.
  3. Click “” under the Actions column to the right of the draft title. 
  4. Click Check Variances.
  5. Select the variance markup format.
  6. Select the desired output file format.
  7.  

PDF – The checked draft is generated as a locked (read-only) PDF file.

Word – The document is generated in Word in DOCX format and is a working draft that you can continue to edit. This mode provides you with a number of benefits:

All edits to original the AIA text are noted (even if Track Changes was turned off, and regardless of whether the changes were made in a custom template), added to the document by project and document-specific dialogs, or made by collaborators.

After collaborating with other users on a working draft document using Track Changes, you can variance check the document to merge the edits and review one set of combined edits and, if necessary, continue editing the document offline in Word.

  1. Click OK.

 

Note: When using the Online Editor, you can also use the Variance Checker by clicking Check Variances on the Online Editor sidebar.

See the list of variance checking rules here.

 

Combining Documents

You can combine multiple project documents into a single PDF file by creating a project manual. To include non software-generated PDF files (such as cover letters or attachments) in a project manual, you must first import them to a project using the Import File button.

 

 

To create a project manual:

  1. Go to the Projects tab.
  2. Select a project from the projects list.
  3. In the Project Details area, click the Project Manual button.
  4. Select the check box beside each document to be included in the project manual (you may select PDFs from multiple projects).  
  5. Use the arrow buttons to arrange documents in the order in which you want them to appear in the project manual. You can remove a document from the project manual by unselecting its check box.
  6. If you would like to edit the title of the project manual, type a new name in the Save Project Manual as text box. Click OK
  7. The project manual will appear in the list of your project documents. Click on the file to download.
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Creating a custom template

You can create your own custom template for offline editing by downloading a standard AIA template, making your standard edits in Microsoft Word, and importing your edited draft into your custom template library.

To import an offline custom template:

  1. In the Template Library tab, go to the Custom Templates sub-tab and click the Import Template button.
  2. On the Import Template popup, click Choose File.
  3. Browse to your offline custom template or an existing working draft and click Open
  4. Click OK on the Import Template popup. Your template is added to your custom template library.
    1.  

You can create your own custom template in the Online Editor by changing the text in an existing template or in a draft document and then clicking Customize as Template.

 

Understanding administrator functions for multi-user licenses

When you purchase two or more unlimited annual accounts for company staff, you can designate a license administrator on behalf of the multi-user account to oversee the licenses, manage users and groups, configure project and group permissions, and share information. 

 

Adding and removing users on a multi-user license

License administrators can manage users by inviting users to join the license or removing them when they no longer need access to the software.

 

To add users to the license:

  1. Go the Users tab in Company Settings
  2. Click Add User.
  3. Type the user’s name and email address in the spaces provided and click Invite User. The user is added to the users list with a status of “Invited,” and a welcome email is sent with instructions for logging into the AIA Contract Documents online service. 

 

To remove users from the license:

  1. Go to  the Users tab in Company Settings
  2. Click Remove for the desired user.
  3. Click OK.

 

Creating user groups

By default, all users in your multi-seat license can view and edit all projects and documents. If you prefer to configure your license to limit access to certain projects and/or documents, you can add users to groups and configure your projects so that specific groups have no access, read only access, or read/write access.

 

To create a user group:

  1. Go to the Groups tab in Company Settings
  2. Click Create New Group.
  3. Type a group name and description in the spaces provided and click OK.

 

To remove a user group:

  1. Go to the Groups tab in Company Settings
  2. Click Delete for the group you want to remove.
  3. Click OK.

 

Adding and removing users to groups

 

To add users to a group:

  1. Go to the Groups tab in Company Settings
  2. Click the name of the desired group. 
  3. Click Edit when the list of the members of the group is displayed.
  4. Click Add Members from Current Users at the bottom of the screen and select the checkboxes for the users you want to add to the group.
  5. Click OK

 

To remove users from a group:

  1. Go to the Groups tab in Company Settings
  2. Click the desired group name and click Edit.
  3. Select the checkboxes for the users you want to remove.
  4. Click Remove Member. The user is removed from the group (no confirmation message).

 

Understanding group permissions

In AIA Contract Documents, access and permissions to project data are managed at the group level.

There are two levels of permissions:

  • Read permissions allow a user to view data for a project but not change it.
  • Read/Write enables all functions.

If a user is in more than one group with Read and Read/Write permissions to a certain project, the least restrictive permissions will apply.

By default, all users are added to the “Everyone” group, which has Read/Write permissions for all projects.

 

Adding and removing group permissions to projects

 

To add or remove a group to a project:

  1. Go to the Projects tab in Company Settings
  2. Click the name of the desired project. A list of the groups that have access to the project and their access levels is displayed.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. Click Add Group. To Remove a group, select the checkbox for the desired group and click Remove Group.
  5. Select the checkboxes for the groups you want to add to the project, and select the desired level of access from the drop-down menu.
  6. Click OK
  7. Click Save to save your changes or Cancel to exit without saving changes.

 

Publishing and unpublishing information

For companies with multi-seat licenses, the license administrator can publish custom templates, clauses, and contacts so they are available to all company users.

Once a custom template, clause, or contact is published, only the license administrator may edit it or unpublish it. If the license administrator chooses to unpublish the object, it will once again be made local to the user who created it.

 

To publish or unpublish a custom template:

  1. Go to the Custom Templates tab in Company Settings
  2. Click Publish or Unpublish next to the desired user-specific template. 
  3. Click OK.

 

To publish or unpublish a clause:

  1. Go to the Clauses tab in Company Settings
  2. Click Publish or Unpublish next to the desired user-specific clause. 
  3. Click OK.

 

To publish or unpublish a contact:

  1. Go to the Clauses tab in Company Settings
  2. Select the checkboxes next to the desired contact(s) and click Publish.
  3. Click OK.

To unpublish a contact, click Unpublish next to the desired contact.

 

For live assistance with AIA Contract Documents and using the online service, visit our support page. 

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