Entering into a JCT construction contract can be a daunting process. Even though the standard form may look simple, you’ll find plenty of construction-specific terminologies you may not be used to, and the way you complete it could have significant consequences. That’s why we’ve put together the following guide of common mistakes to avoid when making JCT contracts.
II. Why Entering into a JCT Contract is Risky
The main reason why entering into JCT construction contracts is risky is often nothing to do with your average JCT itself. It’s down to the parties entering into them. Some contractors consider it sufficient to simply sign the contract without reading it in full, which creates considerable risk. The other reason is that the standard JCT is generally amended beyond recognition, so it doesn’t reflect what you may have assumed to be the standard terms. Suppose you are entering into any contract that you haven’t had drafted professionally for yourself. In that case, you can’t guarantee that it will be in your best interests – even if you are using the standard, supposedly impartial JCT – as every clause in a contract is written to protect one party over the other.
III. What to Avoid When Drafting a JCT Contract
There are lots of things to unpack here, but here are some pointers:
a. Inaccurate requirements
Clarify what the project is, who is provides the scope of work, and how it’s linked to the contract. If the client wants a particular finish or specification that is not possible, you need to be clear about what is actually going to be achieved.
b. Confusing wording
JCTs are written by experts in writing contracts. If your specialty is your trade and you don’t really involve yourself in the paperwork, JCTs can be confusing and full of jargon. However, you need to fully understand what the clause says before editing or filling it in, as you may cause more harm than good.
c. Being too general
The specifics are so important to ensure that you have got the contract that will work to your advantage and protect you should things go wrong. If your contract doesn’t state that the contractor has to achieve certain milestones within certain timescales, then you can’t complain or sue if they aren’t getting done! Don’t be afraid to add lots of detail to the contract – additions don’t necessarily need to be slotted in within the contract terms themselves, as you can add as many numbered documents and appendices as you like to ensure everything is covered.
d. Rushing the contract draft
It’s crucial that you ensure you fully understand what the contract says and what you want it to say, rather than simply filling in the blanks in a panic to get started on the work. You might also want to add your own amendments to the standard contract, to match your processes exactly. If anything goes wrong and you haven’t completed it correctly, the JCT could end up costing you money rather than making you any!
e. Failing to seek expert assistance
If there are certain parts that you don’t understand or you want to change, getting advice on this is so important. If you muddle through and write your own clauses, you can’t guarantee that these will be accurate or won’t conflict with other areas. An expert will know what to write and where best to place it.
In conclusion, although JCTs should, in theory, be simple to complete, an expert can help avoid many potential risks.
At BEB, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience in ensuring the JCT works for you, not against you. Contact us today to find out more!