- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 27 Mar 2019
Construction contract strategy
As construction projects involve large amounts of money, a great number of organisations, long durations and great complexity, the development of a clear contract strategy is very important. Adopting the right strategy at the beginning of a project can significantly reduce the risk of problems further down the line.
The contract strategy determines the level of management, design, construction, maintenance, operation and so on that will be required from different parts of the supply chain, and to what extent those services will be integrated. It also determines the level of risk that is allocated to different parties in the supply chain.
Developing an effective contract strategy that supports the client's objectives and allocates risks to those best able to control them, is critical to delivering a project on time, on budget, to the required level of quality and with the fewest possible disputes. For more information see: Procurement route and Standard forms of contract.
This can be particularly difficult on large or complex projects, where the supply chain can be very long and responsibility for performance may cascade down through a plethora of suppliers sometimes unknown to management at the top of the chain. For more information see: Supply chain.
A common problem is that whilst the first and second tiers of the supply chain sign up to fairly onerous agreements, as the chain develops, so the contractual liabilities decrease until suppliers at the end of the chain are often not locked in at all. It is important therefore for all parties to ensure that certain rights and obligations exist not only in their own agreements, but also in the agreements contracting parties have with others. This ensures that the main contractor is not left responsible for all obligations to the employer, that sub-contractors have enforceable rights and that timings are co-ordinated throughout the supply chain. For more information see: Back to back provisions in construction contracts.
In addition, there may be a need for third party agreements such as collateral warranties, which are agreements associated with another 'primary' contract to allow a duty of care to be extended by one of the contracting parties to a third party who is not party to the original contract. For more information see: Collateral warranties.
Other factors that may influence the contract strategy might include:
- The size, complexity, duration and cost of the project.
- Whether the nature of the works required can be described in detail.
- Whether the quantity of works required can be determined.
- The complexity of the supply chain.
- Whether the client requires a single point of responsibility.
- Financing of the project.
- The location of the project (is it in the UK?).
- The experience of the client and contractor with projects of a similar nature.
- Whether the works involve repeating activities, allowing long term relationships to be built up between the parties to the project.
- Whether the client is a single party or multiple parties.
- Risk allocation.
- Market conditions.
- The potential for prefabrication.
- Third party dependencies.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
The seismic strengthening of historic churches.
Results show guarded optimism and payment concerns.
Noteworthy navigable aqueducts.
Technology is making remote work a reality.
Carefully placed structures add drama to pastoral vistas.
Report provides actions required by 2030 to achieve a zero carbon economy.
What type of cool roof is most suitable?
Active Travel programme prioritises cyclists and pedestrians.
CIAT issues caution for use of new standard.
Industry leaders discuss climate change, the economy and other influences.
The building manager is key to operations.
The impact Scotland’s dynamic coast has on the historic environment.