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Hello Neil,

Great to hear that you’ve received the contract – a significant step in the process. Now, onto the important task of scrutinising it. The use of the JCT Minor Works contract is a positive aspect, as it’s a widely recognized and fair standard form.

However, it’s always wise to be vigilant. While each contract is unique, there are common red flags or clauses to pay attention to:

  • Payment Terms: Ensure the payment schedule is fair and reasonable. Watch out for any front-loaded payment structures that might put you at a disadvantage.
  • Variations Clause: Clarify how changes or variations to the initial scope of work will be handled. Be cautious of vague language that could lead to disputes.
  • Completion Date: Check for a realistic completion date and understand the consequences if the builder fails to meet it. Look out for any overly optimistic timelines.
  • Insurance and Liability: Verify that the builder has the necessary insurance coverage and clarify who is responsible for what in case of accidents or damage.
  • Penalty Clauses: Be cautious of penalty clauses that impose heavy fines for minor delays. They should be proportionate to the impact of the delay. Also make sure that there is an appropriate and just penalty for the builder if they are responsible for the delay, these are called ‘Liquidated damages’.
  • Guarantees and Warranties: Ensure that the contract includes clear information on guarantees and warranties for the work performed.
  • Dispute Resolution: Understand the dispute resolution mechanism outlined in the contract. It should be fair and offer a reasonable way to resolve conflicts.
  • Scope of Work: Double-check that the scope of work is comprehensive and aligned with your expectations. Be wary of vague or ambiguous language.

If any clause raises concerns or isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice. It’s an investment in ensuring a smooth and fair partnership. Best of luck with your project, Neil!

Warm regards, Alma

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The word ‘Alma’ can be a given name, but in this case, it represents an idea. It means ‘soul’ in Spanish. The purpose of this column is to help, always remembering that the person asking may not be familiar with construction terminologies and it is seeking for a straight forward answer, but also for a touch of empathy and understanding.

Anything related to your building projects. Ideally something very specific about a particular situation you’re facing during your project.

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