Last edited 19 Oct 2016

Preamble in construction contracts

A preamble is an explanation of a document, commonly found in contracts, specifications and bills of quantities. It can help with the interpretation of the document.

A preamble might include:

  • A description of the parties to the contract.
  • A description of the competence (or lack of it) of the parties to the contract. This can be taken to set a general standard for the quality of goods or services expected, or the level of support required.
  • The background to the document.
  • A summary of the negotiations.
  • Tendering procedures.
  • The objectives of the project.
  • Other related documents or previous contracts and their relationship to the current document.

It should only include important information and should avoid including or repeating rights or obligations which should be set out in the main body of the document.

NB Preambles should not be confused with preliminaries. Preliminaries provide a description of the project that allows the contractor to assess costs which, whilst they do not form a part of any package of works, are required by the method and circumstances of the works (for example, planning conditions).

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