Last edited 28 Oct 2020

NEC early contractor involvement

NEC was first published in 1993 as the New Engineering Contract. It is a suite of construction contracts intended to promote partnering and collaboration between the contractor and client. It was developed as a reaction to other more traditional forms of construction contract which have been portrayed by some as adversarial. NEC is a division of Thomas Telford Ltd, the commercial arm of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

On 27 November 2015, at the Alliancing Code of Practice Launch at ICE's headquarters in London, it was announced that NEC would publish ‘Early Contractor Involvement’ (ECI) clauses for NEC contracts to help improve project collaboration. Ref ICE.

This move came in response to the increasing trend for early collaboration, which can be essential for projects using processes such as Building Information Modelling (BIM). ICE suggest that early contractor involvement '...supports improved team working, innovation and planning to deliver value for money'.

Previously, NEC projects often contracted design development and construction planning separately from detailed design and construction. The new clauses mean that a single NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) can be used for both stages where contractors are taking part in the design development and construction planning stage.

Peter Higgins, leader of the drafting team for the clauses, said, "This will allow the contractor to be appointed under a two-stage Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) before details of what is to be constructed have been fully developed and priced.

"Two approaches to ECI are covered by the new clauses. The employer can engage the contractor to assist their consultant in designing the project, as well as to design specific elements. Following agreement of prices for the construction stage, the employer then instructs the contractor to deliver the works, including any outstanding design, under standard ECC Option C (target contract with activity schedule) terms.

"Alternatively, the employer can appoint the contractor to carry out the design with assistance from their consultant. The employer then instructs the contractor to deliver the works under standard ECC Option C or E (cost reimbursable contract) terms. If using Option E, the contractor can also be incentivised to provide a cost-effective design by sharing in the savings on the employer's budget, which includes other relevant costs incurred by the employer."

The clauses are available as a free download now from NEC will also be releasing an advisory 'How To' guide to the clauses in 2016.

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