This article refers to the contract for the main contractor to construct the works (and on some contracts also to design, operate and finance the project). For agreements for the appointment of consultants, independent client advisers, site inspectorate, project managers, client representatives etc see the article on appointing consultants.
The classic nineteenth century definition of a contract is 'a promise or set of promises which the law will enforce' (Pollock, Principles of Contract 13th edition). That is to say, there is reciprocity of undertaking passing between the promisor and the promisee. In contract, the rights and obligations are created by the acts of agreement between the parties to the contractual arrangement.
In the procurement of construction, contracts can be:
- Standard forms.
- Modified standard forms.
- DB: Design and build contract.
- CD: Standard form with contractors design.
- CE: Constructing excellence contract.
- CM: Construction management contract.
- IFC: Intermediate form of building contract.
- MC: Management contract.
- MTC: Measured term contract.
- MW: Agreement for minor work.
- PCC: Prime cost building contract.
- MP: Major project construction contract.
- RM: Repair and maintenance contract (commercial).
- SBC: Standard form of building contract.
NB the JCT traditional forms of contract remain by far the most popular forms of contract in the UK (ref nbs: National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012).
- Form of building agreement.
- PPC: Standard form of contract for project partnering.
- SPC: Standard form of specialist contract for project partnering.
FIDIC's core suite of contracts includes:
- Conditions of Contract for Construction. The Red Book.
- Conditions of Contract for Plant & Design-Build. The Yellow Book.
- Conditions of Contract for EPC Turnkey Projects. The Silver Book.
- The Short Form of Contract. The Green Book.
 NEC (The New Engineering Contract): Engineering and Construction Contract).
- Option A: Priced contract with activity schedule.
- Option B: Priced contract with bill of quantities.
- Option C: Target contract with activity schedule.
- Option D: Target contract with bill of quantities.
- Option E: Cost reimbursable contract.
- Option F: Management contract.
- Option G: Term contract.
For more information see NEC3.
 Other forms of contract
Other less commonly used forms of contract include:
- The GC Works suite of standard government conditions of contract are no longer being updated by the government who are now moving to the New Engineering Contracts, now in their third edition NEC3. See GC Works for more information.
- IChemE (The Institution of Chemical Engineers) forms of contract.
- ICC Infrastructure Conditions of Contract. A relaunch of CoC (see below)
- The ICE Conditions of Contract (CoC) (previously maintained by the Institution of Civil Engineers) have been withdrawn in favour of NEC contracts. See ICE Conditions of Contract for more information.
- IMechE/IET (The Institution of Mechanical Engineers / The Institution of Engineering Technology) Model Forms of General Conditions of Contract for electrical works (MF/1-4).
- The Civil Engineering Contractors' Association (CECA) subcontracts for the ICC (above).
See: Contract conditions for more information.
The adoption of building information modelling (BIM) on a project requires the definition of specific obligations and liabilities, and limitations must be placed on the agreed use of the model. This is generally achieved by adopting a BIM protocol. BIM protocols can be incorporated into contract documents by the addition of a model enabling amendment such as that proposed in the CIC BIM protocol.
 Modified standard forms of contract
 Bespoke contracts
24% of respondents to the nb National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012 indicated that they use purpose-written bespoke contracts. Not only is this considered inadvisable because of the risk that bespoke contracts may not adequately or fairly make provision for all circumstances, and that they are not supported by a history of case law, but it is also a poor reflection of how inflexible and ineffective the industry perceives many of the standard forms of contract to be.
For more information, see Bespoke construction contract.
NB The first stage appointment of a two-stage procurement process might be made using a separate pre-construction services agreement (PCA or PCSA), sometimes called early works agreements, rather than under the provisions of the main, second-stage contract.
- Traditional contract: tender.
- Design and build: tender.
- Public project: tender.
- Public project: PFI tender.
- Construction management: tender.
- Management contract: tender.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Articles of agreement.
- Back-to-back provisions in construction contacts.
- Breach of contract.
- Construction operations.
- Contract conditions.
- Contract documents.
- Contract engrossment.
- Contract execution.
- Contract negotiation.
- Contract v tort.
- Contracts under seal v under hand.
- CPC 2013.
- Essentials of a contract.
- Form of tender.
- Framework contract.
- GC Works.
- ICE Conditions of Contract.
- Intermediate Building Contract.
- Joint Contracts Tribunal.
- Key dates.
- Minor works.
- Modifying clauses in standard forms of contract.
- Named specialist work.
- Negotiated contract.
- PPC 2000.
- Procurement route.
- Smart contracts.
 External references
- The London Government Taskforce: A Guide to standard forms of construction contract, outlining key characteristics and components.
- The International Bar Association: Standard forms: contract conditions.
- PACE: Guide to the appointment of consultants and contractors P96.
- Constructing excellence: guide to standard forms of construction contract.
- OGC: Partnering contract review.
- The Joint Contracts Tribunal.
- JCT: Deciding on the appropriate JCT contract. 2011
- nbs: National Construction Contracts and Law Survey 2012.
- Pollock, Principles of Contract (13th Edition).
- Winward Fearon on Collateral Warranties, David L Cornes and Richard Winward. 2002.
Featured articles and news
Built over a period of 632 years, Cologne Cathedral is considered one of the world's finest examples of Gothic architecture.
UandI adds £1.5bn to development pipeline.
Here are 5 things leaders can do to create a truly circular economy.
Find out about the different types of delays on construction projects.
Researchers at Wien university have developed new system to create an inflatable concrete structure.
ICE responds to the first consultation on the government's industrial strategy post-Brexit.
Take a look at this newly-opened tower in Chicago with a remarkable 20:1 height-to-base ratio.
An Arc de Triomphe for the late-20th century, the La Grande Arche of Paris.
Richard Hayward of Legrand asks whether technology could help developers meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.
The principles, practice and formwork of one of the most important components of modern architecture.