My builder won’t sign a contract

Q: My preferred builder - who can start work very soon - won't sign a contract. What do I do?


Even if you don’t have a ‘formal’ contract, if your builder does work for you then a contract will probably come into existence under common law.

The problem is neither of you will know what the precise terms of the contract are, because they aren’t fully recorded. This will include some fairly basic things like start and finish dates, payment, scope of work and most important of all, the price you’ve agreed and the circumstances under which it may be changed.

If you don’t have these written down, and there’s a disagreement later, you could end up having to go to court to sort it out. So a contract like the RIBA Domestic Building Contract can save its cover price many times over.

In any event you should be suspicious of a builder that doesn’t want to sign a contract. After all, it’s there to help them too.


Special thanks for this answer go to Roland Finch, a specialist advisor on the RIBA’s Building Contracts and Professional Services Agreements at NBS. NBS is owned by the RIBA and offers distinctive, innovative specification and information solutions to construction industry professionals.


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