Last edited 11 May 2018

Possession of the site by the contractor

Contracts generally grant the contractor exclusive possession of the site until practical completion when a handover meeting takes place and possession reverts to the client (see Handover to client).

The contract may state the date for possession of the site by the contractor (or commencement date), or, if not, then the site must be handed over to the contractor within a reasonable time after signing of the contract.

If the client fails to give possession of the site to the contractor, and there are no provisions for delay in the contract, then they will be in breach of contract. Even if the contract does provide for delay in giving possession of the site to the contractor, the contractor will still be able to claim for an extension of time and perhaps loss and expense.

A formal handover meeting when the contractor takes possession of the site is an opportunity to:

  • Handover keys.
  • Discuss issues related to continued occupation of any part of the site (particularly on refurbishment projects) such as access.
  • Discuss security.
  • Issue any significant information about the site (such as site services, tree preservation orders, etc.).
  • Discuss ongoing maintenance, operation and protection issues regarding existing structures, landscape or other features to be retained.
  • Discuss noise and dust reduction measures.
  • Verify insurance provisions.
  • Read meters.
  • Provide contact details for key personnel on both sides.
  • Discuss access for client's personnel and representatives or other client contractors.

See also Pre-contract meeting. The pre-contract meeting is an important meeting that takes place after the contractor has been appointed but before work commences on site. It is an opportunity to for the project team to meet (perhaps for the first time) and to plan the construction stage.

On certification of practical completion, the contractor will give possession of the site back to the client (see Handover to client).

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