30 August 2018

When I was a small boy my mother often used to come into my bedroom and announce loudly that “This place looks like a building site”. I always thought that to be a bit unfair on building sites, I recall my room was much the messier of the two.

My bedroom and most building sites did have one thing in common. I knew where everything was. Most builders do too.

But the perception of chaos by those who do not understand the order employed is frightening.

When you instruct a builder there is often a desire to see a site maintained as tidily as your building will be when you move in. However the builder has possession of the site and is entitled to work in the manner that they find most practicable.

Some builders pride themselves on maintaining clean and ordered sites. Others clean up the site once, at the point that they are finished with all of the works and ready to hand the completed works back to the employer.

The key is that the site be clean at the point the builder relinquishes possession, not that a state of cleanliness is maintained during works.

The builder’s control over the state of the works extends to the sequence works are carried out and the methodology employed.

The builder has an obligation to ensure the works are carried out safely, beyond that there is only rarely a need for the employer to stipulate how works should be performed. Contractual clauses that seek to place a straitjacket on the builder’s works often give rise to disputes.

But a property owner will wish to know the works are progressing. Contract clauses relating to the duration of the works period are normal, indeed the contractors may be required to provide a timeline to demonstrate diligent performance of their obligations, they can even agree to pay damages if the works over run on duration. But if the builder wishes to do little for the first 90% of the contract time and then flood the site with men for the remaining 10% of the duration it is for them to determine if this is justified.

If the idea of this gives a property owner concern, they must ensure there are sufficient contractual terms in place to compel the builder to work at a satisfactory rate. In these days of ever more complex and expensive works the willingness to trust the builder to carry out works without interference or oversight can be lost.

If you can't embrace the chaos that often comes with building works then a property owner is left with little option but to embrace the cost that comes with controlling them. That means clear contract terms agreed at the outset and administered correctly, by professionals.

If want help drawing up a contract or have any question about the article, or anything else related to building contracts and disputes please call Iain Cole on 01935 846465 or and he will be happy to discuss your queries with you.

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