086 087 5174

The Construction Contract- Legal Frameworks of Construction FAQ

Sample Building Contract shown, RIAI Yellow Form (With Quantities) Copyright RIAI

Sample Building Contract shown, RIAI Yellow Form (With Quantities) Copyright RIAI

The standard building contracts have been developed continuously by the professional bodies for over 170 years. They set out many of the historic working conventions of the building industry in writing, and act as a “rule book” for the construction stage of architectural projects. The RIAI produce a range of contracts for different types of commercial situations. The actual contract (shown in this picture) forms one part of the paperwork for administering a construction project. There are three main parts, without these it is impossible to properly manage a building project:

  1. Drawings, specifications, lists and other statements of the scope of what the employer is asking for.
  2. A pricing document which sets out the overall amount, and a detailed breakdown of the values of the individual parts.
  3. A standard form contract, which sets out the rules, terms and conditions for what the builder, client and consultants will do and when.

Where do I Get a Building Contract? Which One Should I use?

A range of contracts are available to architects from www.riai.ie or their shop on Merrion Square, Dublin. Other irregular forms are available online; in this post we describe only formal architect administered building contracts, which are the only forms of agreement we recommend for building work. The contracts used on architect led projects are designed for architect administration; other forms of contracts exist for engineering projects and public sector capital works.

We recommend clients for domestic works choose between the three most conventional standard form contracts:

  1. The RIAI Yellow Form with quantities
  2. The RIAI Blue Form without quantities
  3. The RIAI “SF-88” Short Form (Pink)
  4. The RIAI “Plain English” contract (White).

These each have different merits for different contractual and commercial situations. The yellow form is suitable for literally all building projects procured in the traditional way, this contract can be used on projects of unlimited value or complexity. The Short form is only recommended where the architect is the only professional consultant working on the project; it is often used for simple house extension projects.

Where do The Contracts Come From?

The building contracts have evolved slowly over time, and they contain a distillation of the experience and wisdom of past generations of construction professionals. Most of their provisions are preemptive responses to problems or disputes that have occurred on projects in the past, and the contract sets out the solution to these potential contracts in advance. In practice, we use the conventions established in the contracts on a daily basis. The standard forms are informed by case law to some extent, and are adjusted periodically to adapt to changes in legislation.

Much of the text sets out responses to scenarios that could otherwise lead to disputes. In this way, they set out the rules the construction industry operates on. In my experience contractors and tradesmen default to the conventions in the RIAI contracts as common practice.

Basic Mechanics of a Building Contract Which Guarantee Quality and Cost Certainty

  1. The architect is the impartial administrator of the contract, and must act fairly towards both builder and client (employer)
  2. The architect is responsible for checking the quality of work
  3. When work is done properly, the contractor can send bills at set intervals and the architect must issue certificates for payment.
  4. The contractor must work for a period (usually one month) before the first payment
  5. As the building is properly constructed, the budget is paid to the contractor.
  6. A retention amount can be set, which creates a fund, set aside from every payment, which the client (employer) keeps until after the work is complete.
  7. After a testing period or “defects liability” period, the money shall be paid to the contractor.
  8. This money will be paid after a set period, but money can be deducted if the contractor has failed to make good any defects which may have become apparent.

What Are the Main Headings in the Terms and Conditions?

  • Scope of building work to be included in the deal- drawings, specifications and lists
  • How the price is broken down- Bill of Quantities or Schedule of Rates
  • How the price and scope can vary
  • Site access for the architect, artists, tradesmen and sub contractors
  • Various ways for the main contractor to work with sub- contractors and suppliers
  • Insurance, insurance, insurance, more insurance
  • Date for starting work and taking over the site from the client (employer)
  • Date for finishing work and handing the property back
  • Definition of completion- this can vary
  • The completion date, how it can change, and how this can affect the price
  • How either the contractor or the employer can “get out” of the contract (determination)
  • How quality will be checked
  • How payments to the contractor will be calculated and processed
  • Conflict resolution procedures.

Your architect will advise on the proper contract to be used for your project.

Comments are closed.