The contract

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The contract you use forms a formal agreement between the contractor (or principal contractor) and you as the client.  The contractor (or principal contractor) agrees to provide a service to build the path for you, whilst you agree to pay for their services to build it.

A contract should:

  • State what work is to be carried out

  • State how the work is to be done

  • State who carries out what responsibilities

  • State who is responsible to whom

  • Be agreed and signed between all parties involved (a contract that has not been agreed or signed by all interested parties does not constitute a legally binding contract, and only those who have agreed and signed the contract are bound to it, and have a right to amend it).

It should set out:

  • Clear conditions that all parties agree to work to

  • Clear instructions that all parties must undertake if anything should start to go, or has gone, wrong.

Generally, the type of contract used is based on the projects' size, complexity and level of risks.  One type of contract that is a commonly used for building paths in the lowlands is a 'fixed price contract'.  A fixed price contract, also referred to as ‘design bid build contract’, is a contract between you as the client and a contractor (or principal contractor) for the construction of a fully designed path.  If you have chosen to use a fixed price contract to meet your project objectives, the procurement process will run similar to this:

  • You invite designers to tender and appoint one designer to prepare the design for the pathwork and any other related features/ structures in detail, including planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating the pre-construction phase, on a competitive tendering basis

  • You invite contractors to tender and appoint one contractor to build the path design (and any other related features/ structures), including planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating the construction phase, on a competitive tendering basis.

Your designer completes the design fully before the tender to find a contractor commences, which gives you more control over the design and certaintly about design quality and cost.  However, the design process is longer and slower than other forms of contract, and as the contractor is only appointed once the design is complete, you do not benefit from the contractors' input on the designs buildability as the designer has already developed the design.

A fixed price contract is considered a low risk method of contracting for a client, as the contractor takes on financial risk of completing the work.  However, the contractor has no responsibility for the design, so you retain that risk.  If the design is incomplete, there are mistakes or omissions in the design, or variations are required after the work has started on site, the cost to you could be significant.  Although, some sharing of the risk could happen with the contractor, you take on board the majority of risk as the client.

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