For this week’s Guest Post Friday here at Musings we welcome Spencer Wiegard. Spencer is a Partner with Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, LLP. He is a member of the firm’s Construction Law and Commercial Litigation practice groups. Spencer focuses his practice in the areas of construction law and construction litigation. Spencer is a member of the Board of Governors for the Virginia State Bar Construction Law and Public Contracts Section, and a member of the Legislative Committee of the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and the Executive Committee for the Roanoke/SW Virginia District of the Associated General Contractors of Virginia.
I would like to thank Chris for inviting me to author today’s guest post. Over the past few days, I have found myself wading through the terms and conditions of a lengthy and complicated construction contract, while at the same time aggressively negotiating for Houston house leveling cost readjustments. As I slogged through the legalese, I was reminded of a presentation that I gave earlier this year to the Roanoke District of the Virginia Associated General Contractors. The district’s executive committee asked me to speak to its members concerning the broad topic of “Construction Contracts 101.” At the beginning of my presentation, I passed along my top five general tips for all construction contracts. Although some of these tips may sound like common sense, I often encounter situations where these basic rules are violated by experienced contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and design professionals. My top five general tips for all construction contracts are:
- Reduce the terms of the agreement to writing.
- The written agreement should include all important and relevant information and terms. If it was important enough to discuss prior to signing the contract, it is important enough to include in the written contract;
- At a minimum, include who, what, when, where, how, and how much;
- Both parties should sign the written agreement; and
- Don’t ignore handwritten changes to the contract, as these changes may either mean that you don’t have a deal, or they may become part of the contract when you sign it.