Coming back from holiday even after only a week away, it is interesting how many of the problems we come across boil down to claims for additional costs that were not budgeted for at the outset.

Even the most definitively worded set of contract documents cannot take into account all of the twists and turns that occur on a project. We have had several examples of projects were we are trying to crystal ball gaze and second guess what will happen in the future and through that allocate responsibility between employer and contractor. We have debates with co-consultants over what the terms of construction contracts should be, are the standard terms sufficient to capture the parties’ intentions or do they leave too much for interpretation and guesswork. The frequent questions which are debating with co-consultants are whether the market will bear the risk; is there a “hidden” cost to an amendment to a contract?

Early involvement of a project manager/contractor can defuse some of this through two stage tendering. We at one stage often came across this, there appeared however to be a reversion to single stage tendering. Two stage tendering seems to be coming back in force. It seems there are no easy answers to keeping within a budget, the Procure21+ model of getting stage approval to a construction project before it is finally signed off may assist in the process. Normal contractual discussions other than two stage tendering seemed to do little to assist this.