Standards New Zealand has released a draft of NZS 3910 Conditions of Contract for Building and Civil Engineering Construction (NZS 3910) for public comment with comments being due by Friday 9 November 2012. A copy of the draft can be found at here.

The note accompanying the draft, indicates that the review is a limited technical revision of NZS 3910 and that submitters are asked to focus their feedback on the identified changes. There is a prescribed format for the feedback and any feedback which does not relate to the scope of the technical revision will be accepted but may not be considered as part of this review. Such comments will be deferred for future reference.

The fact that this is a limited technical revision means that a number of the shortcomings which users of NZS 3910 have identified over time may not be addressed in the body of the standard form and will need to be dealt with through the mechanism of the Special Conditions of Contract – Other Conditions of Contract.

A quick overview shows that some of the more substantive changes include:

  • clarifying the nature of a cost reimbursement contract;
  • clarification of the process for calling up the contractor's bond;
  • provision for the contractor to develop a comprehensive programme and a quality plan for the contract works;
  • making it clear that any inspection or approval by the Engineer does not relieve the contractor from its obligations;
  • clarifying and updating the insurance provisions and related schedules;
  • prescribing forms for the certificate for practical completion and final completion;
  • providing for the payment for and the storage of materials off-site and a form of agreement relating to off-site materials;
  • attempting to simplify the progress payment process;
  • a specified time for remedying defects;
  • provision of a warranty on the works; and
  • providing for a design and construct contract.

Standards New Zealand has proposed that NZS 3910 is published as 3 separate Standards as follows:

  • NZS 3910 Conditions of Contract for Building and Civil Engineering – Construct. This document is to include all of the content of NZS 3910 with the exception of Appendix C (term maintenance contracts) and Appendix D (contractor obtaining and providing licences).
  • NZS 3916 Conditions of Contract for Building and Civil Engineering – Design and Construct. This document is to include all of the content of NZS 3910 with Appendix D (contractor obtaining and providing licences) and Appendix E (design and construct contracts) incorporated into the General Conditions but with no Appendix C (term maintenance contracts).
  • NZS 3917 Conditions of Contract for Building and Civil Engineering – Term Maintenance. This document will include all of the content of NZS 3910 with Appendix C (term maintenance contracts) incorporated into the General Conditions and no Appendix E (design and construct contracts).

Feedback is also sought on this proposed structure for the contracts.

As part of the current revision of NZS 3910, New Zealand Standards are looking at developing online contract forms based on the schedules to NZS 3910 which will be available on a user pays basis. Users will be allowed to electronically prepare drafts during negotiation stages and then print final copies once completed and incurring the fee at the final print stage. The intention is to offer a range of options for this service with a pricing structure for single use, multi use and unlimited use. The rationale for this approach is that New Zealand Standards believe that users who have previously purchased NZS 3910 have distributed the document to other non-purchaser parties or clauses of the standard have been used to develop "in house and available for sale contracts".