ARE Live: Navigating the A201

Learn more about what the A201 says about the architect's responsibilities on a project.

 This episode of ARE Live talks about six questions, and with the exception of the first one, none of them actually use the words “A201,” which is pretty common on ARE questions. 

The A201 sets the stage for the roles, responsibilities, and procedures that happen particularly during the construction administration phase of a project. So when you get a question that’s asking you about who should do what or what should the architect do during CA, even if the question doesn’t say to refer to the A201, you’ll probably find the answer there. 

It’s a really foundational document for you to understand before taking the ARE. For a really long time the ARE Guidelines listed the A201 as a reference for PjM and CE, and it still does, but they recently added it as a reference for PcM as well—so half of the divisions on the ARE expect you to understand the A201 and be able to apply it to different situations. 

Know Your Documents Before Exam Day

The first question in this episode gives you a scenario and asks you to check two of the given answers that describe the role of the A201. To answer these kinds of questions on the exam, read through all your answer options and mark off the ones you know are definitely incorrect, and then choose two of the remaining options. 

To help narrow down the answer options in this question, it’s helpful to know what the A201 is and how it functions. For instance, because we know that the A201 is not a contract that gets signed during a project, any answer that mentions parties signing the A201 can be dismissed as incorrect, because that’s not how this document functions. Similarly, one of the options refers to construction costs, which would typically be laid out in the A101 and B101 instead. 

Nothing in the question would necessarily tell you what is included in each document type, so having an understanding of  documents like these and how they function before going into exam day will be helpful. 

Have Knowledge of the A201 Section Titles

In the second question, you need to dive into the language of the A201 to see who is responsible for certain actions or requests. If you have the A201 in front of you on exam day, you can read through it to find this information—but that will take up valuable time that might be better used elsewhere. 

Having some knowledge of the different section names and titles can be super helpful on the exam. Sometimes you may not get the A201 as a reference on the exam, and even if you do, knowing section titles can help you scan for the information you need more effectively. 

For instance, knowing that a section title is “Owner’s right to stop work” gives you a hint as to what’s in that section and can help you make an educated guess about an answer. 

This question is also a good illustration of the fact that questions on the ARE often don’t seem like they’re specifically about the A201. But, having general familiarity with what the different project team members can and can’t do during a construction project—which are outlined in the A201—will help you realize when a question is about that document. 

Change Orders vs. Construction Change Directives

In the last question of this episode, the scenario focuses on pricing changes, which means the architect would either be issuing a change order or a construction change directive. The A201 has more information about both of these options; minor changes in work are in section 7.4, construction change directives are 7.3, and change orders are 7.2 

These are all good sections to write down in your notes and be relatively familiar with, as it’s pretty common to get questions on the ARE about these concepts, and knowing where to find your information quickly will help you answer quickly and move on. 

Pro Tip: Reading Contract Language

The language in contracts and documents like the A201 is super dense and it can often be overwhelming to read, especially during the heat of exam day. Here’s a pro tip for reading contract language that can help you scan more effectively for only relevant information. 

In this snippet from section 2.5 of the A201, the text reads “If the Contractor defaults or neglects to carry out the Work in accordance with the Contract Documents and fails within a ten-day period after receipt of notice from the Owner to commence and continue correction of such default or neglect with diligence and promptness, the Owner may, without prejudice to other remedies the Owner may have, correct such default or neglect.” 

That phrase in between the commas, highlighted here in blue, can be left out on a second read. It’s still an important phrase, but to help internalize the main point of the phrase better, leave it out. So on your second read-through, read:

“...the Owner may correct such default or neglect.” 

Leaving out this little offshoot phrase between the commas will help simplify the main point of this section, and can make it easier for you to understand exactly what’s going on. 

Understanding Concepts

The fifth question in this episode deals with delegated design and how the architect should process the submittal. While the A201 does lay out what the architect should do during a scenario concerning delegated design, it doesn’t actually use the language “delegated design;” it just describes what delegated design is. 

So you wouldn't be able to use the search function and find that in the text. This is another reason why having some foundational knowledge of what’s in the A201 and what the text says will help you on exam day. In this scenario, having a solid understanding of the concept behind a commonly used term will help you find the information you actually need. 

To see more detailed explanations of all these questions and how to work through them, check out the recording below!