It’s Wise Up Wednesday: 7 Critical Checks! – The Key To Your Success

We have been helping Specialist Contractors for 28 years, and our “Wise Up Wednesdays” are based on the issues we have dealt with resolving disputes and problems from a few £thousand pounds to literally tens of £millions! 


This week WUW is a very brief one about checking the terms you are letting yourself in for, BEFORE you put your head in that contractual noose!


It’s easy to jump in when entering into a contract, after all the deal has been discussed and agreed upon, and sorting the contract is just a formality, right?




Not checking the specific terms that will apply to your works is one of the most common and often fatal mistakes I see on a daily basis!


Don’t get caught out by those dirty tricks hidden in the small print.


Here’s a brief check-list to ensure you don’t sign your business away…


1. Know Who You Are Contracting With!


It might sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but you would be surprised at the amount of Specialist Contractors who don’t do their research before getting into projects with a Main Contractor they have never worked for before. 


You need to know if they good and fair payers, and are they in a secure enough place financially that they will be around to pay you at the end of it all?

2. What’s The Scope Of The Works?


Disputes about the scope of the works are rife. It might be a bit of a chore, but you must check it, because you can almost guarantee that what you agreed verbally and what is written into the contract regarding scope will be different. 


And please watch out for the weasel words that extend your scope, or remove all the qualifications and clarifications you so carefully put into your tender!


3. What’s The Time Frame?


Time frames are a tricky issue to get right. Depending on the project you may have one start and finish date, or multiple starts and finish times if the work is to be completed in sections. 


Do not accept “as and when required” type clauses.They will cost you dearly!


4. Are The Payment Terms Fair?


Payment terms are the biggest cause of disputes in the Specialist Contracting community. They have been the cause of many Specialist Contractors going under, and have cost many more a small fortune. 


There are so may variables that understanding payment terms can be difficult even for practioners like us. So, don’t be afraid to get our professional advice.


5. How Far Does Your Design Liability Stretch?


As Specialist Contractor you will be liable for any design you provide if that design subsequently proves to be faulty.  You need to be very clear that your design liability is restricted to reasonable skill and care, and that the far more onerous standard of fitness for purpose does not arise to void your PI cover!


6. Don’t Compromise Your Rights On Dispute Resolution!


You need to know that your rights have not been compromised. If the contract between you and the Contractor or Client is subject to the Construction Act the contract should have certain provisions which provide some degree of protection.


But beware that these have not been negated by the specific words of the contract!


7. Amendments And Bespoke Terms Are Never There For Your Benefit


Contracts have and always will be a minefield of sneaky tricks and onerous clauses that are placed there by Main Contractors to reduce their obligations and increase yours!


Being vigilant and checking over the contract before entering into it is the best way to prevent yourself from being caught out. It can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to get our professional advice. 


Please Help Spread The Word 


I hope you enjoyed my Wise Up Wednesday email and that it gave you some food for thought, and I sincerely hope to speak with you soon.

In the meantime, please help to spread the word within your own business and with your colleagues in other businesses. Specialist Contractors are the backbone of the industry and we are here to help you all stick together.

You can find me on LinkedIn so why not connect up, and we have a LinkedIn Group with over 2,200 members so why not come and join us.

And if you want to get your contract checked or you need help with; Acceleration, Adjudication, Applications and Payments, Business Development, Contractual Advice, Delay and Disruption, Dispute Resolution, Extension Of Time, Retention… etc., or any of your business issues, please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call.

You can contact us on 01773 712116 or email

Best regards 


P.S. The clue really is in our name – StreetwiseSubbie! We specialise in helping Specialist Contractors of all sizes and in all trades. So, as a first step towards getting to know us, why not come and take a look at all the resources on our web site or connect with me on LinkedIn or join our group? We are a really friendly bunch. 

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