There is no shortage of articles addressing the key points of construction contracts. Just enter that phrase into any internet search engine and you will find plenty. It should go without saying that a construction contract should be in writing, it should clearly identify the scope of work to be performed and the sums to be paid for that work, and it should address the parties’ rights and responsibilities with regard to termination or suspension of the contract, correcting defective work, and handling claims and disputes—just to name a few. Of course, these items should receive their due consideration. Too often, however, other important aspects of the construction contract get shortchanged. This article aims the spotlight on five often overlooked aspects of construction contracts.
Surprisingly, many construction contracts pay little attention to a central component of any construction project: the project schedule. Many contracts provide the dates of commencement and substantial completion but not much else. With the frequent use of project management techniques such as the Critical Path Method (CPM) and the associated software, it is easier than ever to identify which tasks should be prioritized and identify potential areas of delay. The owner’s contract with the general contractor should clearly define the scheduling methods used and provide measures to keep the parties informed of the progress of the work. By including basic scheduling requirements in the contract documents—such as the submission of “Baseline Project Schedules” (consistent with the contract time provisions), “Schedule Progress Updates” (comparing the progress of the work against the Baseline Project Schedule), and “Schedule Recovery Plans” (when Schedule Project Updates indicate projected delays)—the parties can avoid or reduce disputes over project delays that often lead to litigation.