Do I need a contract with my builder for a home extension or building renovation project?
Yes, of course we’re going to say there should be a contract, we’re a law firm!
It is common to find in smaller residential building projects that there is no formal written agreement. This would be made between the homeowner and the builder. Instead, the requirements for a contract to exist, (offer, acceptance, consideration and intention to create legal relations) are satisfied through a combination of quotations. Though exchanges of emails, telephone calls, meetings and invoices.
This creates a number of difficulties in establishing what is being done, when it will be done. How much it will eventually cost, and how it will be paid for. In such cases, we refer to your statutory rights.
This it dictates the terms of the contract, price of the service and service to be supplied.
For that reason, it is important to make sure you have spent the time ensuring an appropriate contract. One that details your project is in place before work is started. It could help avoid expensive and time-consuming disputes at a later stage, if issues or disputes arise during the work.
Two of the most common causes for dispute in any construction project are variations and delay.
Failing to reach a clear agreement about what is going to be done and what is covered by the price will often lead to disputes. In particular about the standard of finish and variations.
There can also be an issue about the time for the works to be completed. How time, and cost risks will be allocated between the parties. There should be a completion date, an understanding of how that might be extended.
How the cost might change and what the consequences of delay are. Failing to address this can give rise to real issues for the parties’ planning. In particular about when the property will be occupied.
Project Owner acting as Project Manager
Finally, you can also have homeowners deciding to take on responsibility for some or entire project themselves. In effect directly hiring a number of different contractors for different parts of the project, in particular for more “creative” elements of the works.
Another common approach is to omit elements of the project as it is progressing. Source an alternative “specialist” to carry out that part of the project. This just multiplies the problems above. It can also create causation issues about which of several contractors are responsible for a particular delay, or loss.
There are many different types of standard form contracts for projects involving work on a home. It is possible to use a bespoken contract as the choice of contract. This can be governed by the needs of the parties and the project. In either case, the contract would need to be suitably updated to keep track of any changes in the consumer law regime.
Standard form contracts such as JCT suite of contracts ( are freely downloadable using this link https://www.jctltd.co.uk/useful-documents.
Building Contract and Consultancy Agreement for a Home Owner/Occupier (HO/C and HO/CA);
Building Contract for a Home Owner/Occupier who has not appointed a consultant to oversee the work (HO/B). It incorporates the model cancellation form.
JCT Home Repair and Maintenance Contract
(HO/RM) (2006 edition, revised JCT Minor Works Building Contract, 2011 edition, although it is not intended for use as a homebuilding contract.
RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2018
These are downloadable using this link https://www.architecture.com/ribacontracts#discover.
Federation of Master Builders Plain English Contracts
(which are free) include:
Domestic Contract for Minor Building Work
(Up to £50k); is downloadable using this link http://www.home-extension.co.uk/fmbcontract.pdf
Domestic Building Contract (Scotland) for Minor Building Work
(Up to £250k); and
Domestic Building Contract
(Up to 500k).
TrustMark introduced “Mini Form of Contract” (published in April 2012) (less than 20K and contract not more than 12 weeks) to protect homeowners and builders carrying out repairs, maintenance and improvements on homes both internally and externally. To purchase a copy of the contract online visit www.constructionbooksdirect.com/Product.asp?PID=6432.
Altion Law are specialists at advising and representing parties in a Contractual Dispute relating to a Construction Project. If you would like to have a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please complete our Contact Us Form, and we will call you back at a time that is suitable for you or you can contact us directly on 01908 414990.