Brandon Cullen

Brandon Cullen

Before you start with work on a construction project, it requires you to have design and drawings in hand, necessary building permissions, control of the site where the project is to come up, finance arrangements in position, and contractors properly lined up. It is also very important that you protect yourself with a valid contract so that risks during execution are covered. For a strong arrangement you must talk to a North Shore lawyer to draw up a contract.

It is important that all aspects of the work to be carried out be properly documented. Contracts are business arrangements where money is paid out for any work carried out and have to be such that they are legally enforceable and fair to both sides entering into contracts. Even if the contractor is a close friend or relative, this written agreement has to be properly drafted so that all likely scenarios are addressed and solutions listed out. Every contractor is used to this legal requirement and will rarely object to entering into a proper contract for the construction work you need to be carried out.

Construction projects can be a challenge, because they involve diverse activities. Contracts do not have to be very verbose or elaborate, but need to have certain sections that are vital for the execution of the contract. These are:

  • Parties to the contract, with full details of each of them
  • The date on which the contract is entered into
  • Scope of work with all necessary details and references documented adequately
  • Quality requirements
  • Conditions of the contract
  • Milestones and schedules needed to be adhered to
  • Terms of payment and amounts for each phase or item of work
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms and their venue
  • Dated signatures of all parties involved, properly witnessed

If all these items are taken care of and put on record with the proper legal terms, there is almost no need to have any disputes, and it is just then up to the contractor to execute the work, while you as an owner have to ensure that you make the necessary payments as they fall due, while ensuring that the work is being carried out to the desired specifications and quality.

Parties to the contract must have provable identities and addresses and the contract must have a legal description of the property that is being worked on. The scope of work must be in conformity with the designs and drawings that also have to be part of the documentation that must be part of the contract. A standard of work statement has to insist on work being performed as per accepted standards in the industry, which can even be enumerated, if such documentation exists. This then ensures that in case of dispute, a third party will have a basis on which to arrive at any judgment. Reference may also be made to specific drawings or designs so that it is clear as to exactly what work needs to be completed. It is standard practice to have all such reference documents, drawing or designs also signed by both parties, so that they form part of the contract document. Quality conditions can have clauses for testing and appraisal at definite stages of the work.

Contract conditions are very important and must include things like insurance, performance requirements, legal obligations, safety, inspection requirements and any other thing that may arise during the execution of the contract. Schedules and milestones are a very important part of any contract and these must be practical and achievable and must have the concurrence of both parties to the contract. There also needs to be a system laid out in the contract for a constant review of the progress of work, and steps that the owner or contractor can take to make any course corrections.

Terms of payment have to be clearly spelt out and scrupulously adhered to if contracts have to be successfully completed. The amounts must be specified for each stage of the work and this can be in any way that is acceptable to both parties. Disputes can always arise but can be solved if proper resolution mechanisms are spelt out in the contract. Finally, the contract must be signed by both parties and properly witnessed, so that it forms a legally enforceable document.

There are many ways in which a contract can be challenged if it is not drawn up correctly. If you have a construction project you owe it to yourself to see a North Shore lawyer to draw up a contract. McVeagh Fleming Partners is the largest law firm on the North Shore and have specialist contract lawyers who can help you. You can get more details on their website