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Winning at communication under a construction contract

15 January 2016

Communication plays a very important part during any engineering and construction project. You need to understand the provisions under the contract and what this requires you to do.

A standard form construction contract provides for the form of communication as well as the delivery or the submission of these communications.

An example: Your contract might require that a notice may be given by fax or hand delivery only. If you then proceed and give a notice of your intention to claim by email, you run the risk that the opposition may say that you did not notify your claim in the proper form required and that your claim will not be entertained until the proper procedure is followed. In this case, a further risk might be that you are then too late to notify your claim as the period of notification expired. Always make sure that you notify timeously and with sufficient detail.

It is important that the parties to a contract, understand where and how any form of communication should be delivered with specific reference to the address and the office hours etc. If your address changes during the course of the project, you need to inform the other party.

Contractors can encounter various obstructions or issues on site and it is to your benefit to have a record when these occur – especially where it might cause a delay, loss or damage to the works or prevent you from doing your work. It is important to record it in some form of communication. You can never go wrong by building a paper trail of records throughout the project.

Communicate and inform the other party and provide proper details and clarifications as needed. This will then make it easier to communicate or negotiate a way forward. Include in your notice to claim for example, the time you have lost and the costs that resulted.

Follow the procedure and periods required, refer to the correct clauses of the contract and be thorough when providing your details. This will then reduce misunderstanding or confusion between the parties.

Author: Barry Herholdt, associate