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Last edited 26 Dec 2020
Contracting is the activity of constructing a building (or some other type of built asset) in accordance with a pre-agreed set of requirements, regardless of whether these are verbal or expressed as drawings, specifications and formal contracts.
An individual or company that contracts in this way is described as a ‘contractor’, but may also be called a general contractor, main contractor, building contractor and so on. Irrespective of the name, the activities they undertake will go under the umbrella term ‘contracting’. The term contracting derives from the fact that there is usually a contract involved in the process, particularly for large projects; the builder ‘contracts’ to fulfilling a set of tasks to the satisfaction of the client.
For domestic and other small jobs, the term builder or housebuilder is more often used and, in such cases, it is possible (although inadvisable) that there may not be a formal written contract other than a specification of what is to be carried out or a verbal agreement.
 What contracting may involve
- Being answerable to a client, or else to the client’s representative (such as an architect or engineer);
- Performing the role of general manager of a construction project;
- Responsibility for the completion and overall coordination of the project;
- Responsibility for providing the materials, labour and equipment necessary for constructing the project;
- Appointing sub-contractors where necessary and being responsible for their work;
- Responsibility for on-site health and safety;
- Providing advise to the design team at an early stage of the design process (early contractor involvement (ECI)). Sometimes the contractor may have responsibility for undertaking design activities for some or all of the project.
- Obtaining relevant permissions;
- Providing temporary utilities on site;
- Securing the site;
- Managing site personnel;
- Construction waste disposal and recycling;
- Monitoring schedules and cash-flows;
- Keeping accurate records.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Appointing consultants.
- Construction contract.
- Construction manager.
- Contract administrator.
- Contract conditions.
- Design management.
- Design quality.
- Design, build, manage contractor.
- Early contractor involvement.
- Major project construction contract.
- Management Building Contract.
- Management contract: outline work plan.
- Management contracting - pros and cons.
- Managing the procurement process.
- Procurement route.
- Temporary works.
- Tender documentation.
- Trade contractor.
- Traditional contract - pros and cons.
- Traditional contract: outline work plan.
- Types of contractor.
- Works contractor.
- Two-stage tender.
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