Last edited 15 Feb 2016

Opening up works for inspection and testing

Construction contracts generally make provision for the contract administrator to instruct that inspections are carried out and that tests are undertaken on completed work where they suspect that there may be defects. They may carry out these tests themselves, or can have them carried out by third parties.

If those works have already been covered up, then this may require that they are opened up for inspection and testing, and clearly this may involve some cost and disruption for the contractor.

Where works are opened up, and tests reveal that there was no defect, then this may constitute a ‘relevant event’ and could entitle the contractor to an extension of time, and an addition may be made to the contract sum to pay the contractor’s costs, unless there was a requirement for the inspection or test to be carried out in the contract.

If a defect is revealed, the contractor must rectify it at their own cost.

Where a defect is revealed, and the contract administrator has reasonable cause to believe there may be other, similar defects, (for example a defect in the installation of insulation in one area may suggest there are similar defects elsewhere) they may issue further instructions for more of the works to be opened up. The contractor is not generally entitled to any adjustment of the contract sum or the completion date for these further tests, even if no further defects are found.

Similar provisions may exist in subcontracts allowing the contractor to instruct that subcontractors open up works for inspection and testing.

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