- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 17 Jun 2017
How to appoint a contractor
Contractors are organisations appointed by clients (sometimes referred to as employers) to carry out construction works. This role is vital to the success of a project, and so great care should be taken to ensure an appropriate contractor is selected. This may involve seeking advice from consultants if the client is inexperienced.
In the construction industry, the process of selecting a contractor is generally referred to as ‘tendering’ and involves preparing tender documents that describe the project, and then inviting tender submissions from prospective contractors from which as selection can be made.
This article describes the process commonly followed for appointing the contractor after they have been selected. Other processes may be used on certain types of projects, such as Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects.
- For information about how to put together a list of potential contractors see: How to find a contractor.
- For information about selecting a contractor from a list of potential contractors see: How to select a contractor.
If OJEU procedures are being followed, it may be necessary to publish a formal contract award notice. A ‘standstill period’ may also be required. This is a pause of at least 10 calendar days between the decision being notified to all tenderers and the final contract conclusion. This allows for suppliers to challenge the decision.
Typically, the contract administrator (or sometimes the cost consultant) will collate the contract documents on behalf of the client and arrange for the printing and execution of two copies, one for the client and one for the contractor. Alternatively, the client might retain one executed contract, with certified copies being issued to the contractor, this can avoid potential errors in preparing two contracts for execution.
See for example:
- Genesis Housing Association Limited v Liberty Syndicate Management Limited.
- Derek Hodd Limited v Climate Change Capital Limited.
- Westshield Civil Engineering Ltd and Westshield Ltd v Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd.
Contract award and contract execution may not necessarily happen at the same time. In fact it is relatively common (although not advisable) for contracts to remain unsigned until well after work has begun.
Contracts may be executed under seal (signed by the parties, witnessed and most importantly made clear that they are executed as a deed) or under hand (a 'simple contract' that is just signed by the parties).
Simple contracts and contracts under seal have different limitation periods. An action founded on simple contract cannot be brought after six years from the date on which the cause of the action accrued. The limitation period for a contract under seal is 12 years. In addition, unlike a simple contract, a contract under seal does not have to be supported by valuable consideration (payment).
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Construction contract.
- Contract award.
- Contract documentation.
- Contract engrossment.
- Contract negotiation.
- Contracts under seal v under hand.
- How to find a contractor.
- How to select a contractor.
- Procurement route.
- Project plans for building design and construction.
- Tender documents.
- Tender process.
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