Stages of a construction contract

Hard working construction worker at a construction scene. image by Andy Dean from

The stages of a construction contract depend upon a step-by-step description of the expectations toward completion. Certain aspects of the construction process cannot be undertaken or completed until other aspects have begun or ended. Contractual documents for building should contain strict definitions of the roles of those who are involved in the process so that confusion is avoided.


The first stage of a construction contract should describe the role the architect will play. Make sure that you include a way to make changes that are reasonable up until the final nail has been hammered. The finished product will belong to you, and you are paying good money for the privilege of deciding for yourself what your building looks like.


The contract needs to define what responsibilities the owner will have during construction work. This is especially important if you plan on making a do-it-yourself project out of a task that would normally be done by the construction company. Be sure that you include a section that gives you the power to stop construction if the contractor fails to carry out agreed-upon work to your satisfaction.


The construction contract needs to be precise in defining the contractor's duties. An important consideration is assigning supervisory status to the contractor. Make certain that subcontractors are not supervising themselves. Put in writing the exact responsibilities of subcontractors, and make sure they are not doing what you are paying the contractor to do. This information will be vital if you find yourself needing to file a lawsuit against your contractor or one of his subcontracting companies.


A special section of the construction contract includes a timeline for completion. A savvy homeowner will insist upon penalties should the work move past the scheduled completion date for reasons not having to do with acts of God, but you also do need to be understanding about events beyond the control of anyone involved in the process.


The payment section is probably the one you may be most interested in and will pay the most attention to. This section contains information about timely applications of payment, certificates for payment and penalties for failures of payment.

Safety and security

A construction contract should include information about safety and security. Precision in the wording will help protect the homeowner against liability for injuries on the job and stolen material. One thing to be aware of and to insist upon adding to the contract is a timely removal of rubbish both during and upon completion of the construction project.


Insurance in particular is usually spelt out within its own specific section. This will be legalese about workmen's compensation and loss adjustments on the part of the owner.

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