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All about building contracts

Building Contracts

Many of us have little experience of doing a major home improvement project and don’t know where to start. Protect yourself and stay in control of your project with a RIBA Building Contract.

Why do I need a building contract?

Having worked with an architect on a design and finally appointed a builder (or contractor) for the job, homeowners may think it’s at this point that they can sit back and let the contractor get to work.

However, undertaking building work in the absence of a building contract leaves homeowners and builders at risk because there isn’t a formal agreement around what is in and out of scope, how payments will be made, completion dates, whether the correct insurance has been taken out and so on.

Reduce project risks and protect your hard earned cash

A building contract is there to protect you – the client – and help reduce risks to all parties and the project over all. Having building work done to your property can be stressful and expensive. While using a building contract won’t eliminate all the stress involved, it will offer protection, reduce risk and help make you feel more in control of your project.

With this in mind, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), launched their new consumer focused building contract.

The RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2014, which the HomeOwners Alliance has endorsed, provides a simple and clearly laid out building contract between homeowners, architects and builders. It is suitable for all types of non-commercial work, particularly work done to the consumer’s own home, including renovations, extensions, maintenance and new buildings.

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance said:

“Most homeowners do not have experience in carrying out major building work, like an extension or loft conversion, and we therefore strongly support this new form of contract. It will help homeowners protect their home, help them have a better understanding of their and their builders obligations and ensure that the result is a dream come true.”

Key features of the RIBA Domestic Contract

The RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2014 takes account of these factors and is designed specifically to be simple, comprehensive and effective. Written in plain English and with comprehensive guidance notes, it allows a customer and their contractor to know where they stand from the start.

Other key features of the contract include:

  • Facilitating good management of the project from start to completion
  • Allowing different payment options to cover all parties’ needs
  • Allowing a named supplier or sub-contractor of your choice
  • Allowing the builder to design parts of the building project
  • Providing greater control over your building project by allowing completion in sections
  • Providing a straightforward method for dealing with changes to the project within specified timescales
  • Providing a process for certifying the completion of the building project and for managing any defects identified after completion

The contract is one of a suite of RIBA Building Contracts that can be prepared and stored digitally. You can alter, manage and view your contract online before printing the final contract. Paper contracts can also be ordered.

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