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By David Brown, Partner

When domestic building works of any reasonable cost and duration are taking place, it is highly recommended that a formal contract is entered into, as this gives clarity to the residential home owner and the contractor as to how typical issues are dealt with. Disputes often arise because of a lack of understanding by each party of their obligations and a lack of contractual certainty.

A contract can provide for what happens when the works are varied, what happens if there are defects and what happens if the project over-runs for example.

The Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) has a suite of contracts, the Home Owner contracts being the most straightforward. It publishes one contract for use with a professional consultant (such as an architect or surveyor) and one for when the client is ‘going it alone’ with a building contractor.  

The JCT has recently published Contract Administration Model Forms, which contain template documents for use with either version of the Home Owner contracts. The templates include various forms of notices and certificates for reporting faults, allowing an extension of time, completion of the works or ending the contract.  

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) also publishes contracts for small residential works.

For larger projects, and particularly where a professional is involved, two other contracts in the JCT suite of contracts may be appropriate – the Minor Works Contract and the Intermediate Contract - both of which are also aimed at commercial parties.

Unfortunately, domestic building disputes are not unusual and can be costly, time consuming and difficult to resolve. It often helps to have a consultant involved as a buffer between a home owner and the builder, the consultant being obliged to act in a fair and impartial way in the administration of the contract.  

Terminating a contact should be a last resort but, when it happens, care must be taken by either party because any termination made not in accordance with the contract, may mean that the party terminating are themselves in default and liable for breach of contract.

If you are either a residential home owner or a builder and would like to discuss any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact David Brown on email or tel: 01892 515022.

This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett LLP does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.

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March 23, 2023
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