Building contracts in the UK

A standard form of building or construction contract is a binding agreement between the employer for the building project and the building contractor who is responsible for carrying out the construction work.

Construction site in Belfast

They include full details of the costs and provision of labour, materials and services as well as plans, specifications, drawings, a schedule for completion, and any changes which have been agreed. The construction work including the cost and time-scale must comply with the contract.

RICS involvement with building contracts

The diverse profession of surveying includes surveyors with a range of expertise who are involved with building contracts including quantity surveyors, building surveyors, project managers, and valuers. RICS is the professional body for surveyors and has a close connection with building contracts. We publish mandatory and advisory practice statements, codes of practice and guidance notes which embody best practice and advise our members on all niches of surveying practice. Our members must adhere to these standards many of which relate to building contracts.

Suites of building contracts

There are various suites or families of building contracts in use in the UK. These are the main ones:

The Construction Act

The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 known informally as the LDEDC or the Construction Act came into force on 1 October 2011 in England and Wales, and 1 November 2011 in Scotland. The LDEDC amended the law relating to construction contracts in a number of ways, the most significant change being that the Act will apply to all building contracts whether they are written or oral.  The underlying advice is that a formal written building contract signifying agreement between the two parties is overwhelmingly preferable to an oral agreement. Building contracts entered into before 1 October 2011 are not affected by these amendments.

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