One of the criticisms regularly aimed at contract administration is that there are so many forms to fill in and so much paperwork generated. Indeed, in one former job I had we used to joke that it was a contractual requirement that the building could not achieve practical completion until an equivalent weight of trees had been used up.

The truth is that there will always be some non-essential documents, but the principal reason for paperwork on any project typically comprises one of three main types:

They include records - setting out what is expected to be built, usually in the form of the drawings and specification and then what was actually constructed.

Secondly, the difference between those two positions is usually covered by instructions.

Finally, there are things like notices and certificates required by the contract itself. JCT is particularly fond of these, while NEC is not far behind.

The important thing to remember is that almost all of these need to be in writing. Even verbal correspondence must be confirmed in writing to be effective.

The next thing to consider is the information which must form part of or accompany this correspondence. JCT uses a variety of different terms, such as certify, notify, send, provide, inform, and so on. It also prescribes the form in which each should be sent, to whom and by whom.

Of course, you could cover all the requirements in a carefully worded letter. It isn't necessary to use a standard pro forma. But often it is easier, because it will mean that all the relevant information is included.

This can be crucial, because many contract disputes have been won or lost on technicalities such as not containing the right information, not sending it to the right person, or even not calling it the right thing. For example, if the Contract requires a 'notice' to be served, it's probably a good idea to identify it as such.

Although many documents can now be sent by electronic means, if the Contract prescribes a method of service, such as: 'by registered post to the office of the Employer' then an email to the CA on site will probably not fulfil those criteria.

So yes, it can be annoying and time consuming to undertake all those 'administrative' functions when the primary objective is to realise a gleaming new building.

But the consequences of not attending to the detail and following contract procedures can be quite serious.

Related NBS Services

NBS Contract Administrator
With so many forms and certificates to complete, and changing costs to track, administering a construction contract can be complicated and time consuming. We offer a solution: NBS Contract Administrator.

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