As we’ve mentioned in the past, the best practices for construction contracts involve the use of clearly written contracts that manage to pack complicated information into a concise package. This package may contain several different types of documents that, when put together, form your construction contract. Every time you prepare to sign a contract, you will have many questions:
- Is a cost plus or fixed price contract right for me?
- How can I avoid contract ambiguity?
- Do I need a dispute resolution clause?
No two contracts should be identical, so approaching the signing table with questions is vital if you want to avoid common contract-related issues. This is especially true if an owner attempts to unload a boilerplate contract on you. Understanding each and every document contained in your contract can help you avoid signing a bad contract. A Houston construction lawyer can help you review your contracts, give you a breakdown of problematic clauses, and negotiate new terms on your behalf.
In part one of this three-part series, we discussed how understanding each and every document in your contract is essential for contractors that want to avoid costly disputes involving scope of work or the construction schedule. Now, we will continue to explore important contract documents for construction projects, focusing on the general conditions, special conditions, and specifications.
Put simply, the general conditions of a construction contract outline the rights, responsibilities, and relationships between a contractor and owner. It covers the legalities of the contract, establishes a consistent legal framework, and discusses how disputes will be resolved. Because contractor-owner disputes are extremely common in the construction industry, it’s important to have a Houston construction lawyer add an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clause providing both parties with the opportunity to settle disputes amicably outside of court using processes like mediation and arbitration.
Oftentimes viewed as an addendum to the existing general conditions of a contract, special conditions typically contain information related to specific conditions and clauses that address unique aspects of a project. For instance, if you were contracted to build seven identical apartment buildings but the last of the seven buildings was designated an “eco-friendly” structure because the materials were swapped out with sustainable alternatives, the special conditions may reference this and point the reader towards an additional document containing the exact specifications for this change.
When it comes to the technical data and requirements for materials and building techniques, look no further than the specifications section of your contract. This is a comprehensive document that may change over time as change orders affecting the scope of work are introduced.
To learn more about important contract documents for construction projects, read part three.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.