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#WiseUpWednesday:Get It Wrong And It Stays Wrong!

This week’s “Wise Up Wednesday” is prompted by a problem that we see time and time again, and it catches Specialist Contractors totally unawares.

“The Devil is in the detail” is an expression you’re probably familiar with, because when it comes to contracts and the construction industry, Specialist Contractors often find themselves on the receiving end of a colossal amount of detail.

As we all know contracts can be a complex area that leaves us scratching our heads, and the use of Standard Form Contracts should be welcomed. But, in the case of the NEC/3 contract however, the Standard Form just isn’t that “standard”.

What’s Wrong With The NEC/3 Contract?

Unfortunately a contract that was conceived as a “clear and simple document” is not widely understood.

There is nothing onerous about the Standard Form, but unfortunately

  • it is not widely understood
  • it is seldom set up properly, and
  • rarely is it properly administered by the parties

All that makes for problems for you as Specialist Contractors, and the key thing when entering into NEC Contracts, is “to know what you are letting yourself in for.

Even an un-amended Standard NEC/3 causes problems, but we’ve seen contracts that had 80 pages of additional Z clauses, and that isn’t an NEC/3 contract anymore!

Confusing And Unfamiliar

The NEC/3 (and soon to be NEC/4), is full of confusing terminology;

  • activity schedule
  • core clauses
  • options and secondary options
  • Compensation Events,
  • accepted programme,

The list goes on and on.

Get It Wrong And It Stays Wrong

“Get it wrong in the NEC/3 contract and it stays wrong”, said Michael Brown, at our last training session on the NEC/3. And Michael is indeed something of an expert, as he has advised on some of the major sub-contract packages using the NEC/3.

“Subcontractors need to to remember that although all parties should follow non-confrontational procedures, every party “will try to dump risk down the line, when it should remain with those best suited to managing it” said MIchael.

In simple terms, the responsibility for Specialist Contractors is to know what they have to do and when they have to do it.

Unlike other forms of contract, which tend to stay in the drawer, Michael advised delegates that Specialist Contractors should refer to the NEC/3 Contract daily and know their exact position in regard to its provisions at any given time. And if that isn’t happening then you simply are not administering the contract properly.

No wonder that I suggested that by the end of the day, our delegates would have a far greater understanding of the operation of the NEC/3 contract than most Main Contractors!

It Is So Different It Is A Real Challenge

Unfortunately the NEC/3 is so different from any other contract terms that you will have used previously it is a real challenge. But it can be a massive opportunity to make money too. But, you have to know what to do.

That’s why I’m going to repeat two things here;

  • Get it wrong and it stays wrong, and
  • Use the contract every day

Please don’t ignore those two maxims, and please get advice from the outset, because it really will save you a fortune. And if you fancy learning more about what the NEC/3 is all about, and how it will morph into the NEC/4 please see the panel below.


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