The contract documents prepared by the architect, engineer, or client’s legal counsel include the contract between the client and contractor; the bidding requirements, which contain the invitation to bid, instruction to bidders, general information, bid forms, and bid bond; the contract forms, which may include the agreement (contract) format between the client and contractor, performance bond, and payment bond and certificates; the contract conditions identified as the general and supplementary conditions; the list of technical specifications; drawings; addenda; and contract modifications. The bidding requirements, contract forms, and contract conditions are sometimes referred to as the upfront documents.
Bidding Requirements. These explain the procedures bidders are to follow in preparing and submitting their bid. They assist all bidders in following established guidelines so that bids can be submitted for comparative purposes and not be disqualified because of technicalities. The bidding requirements address all prospective bidders, whereas the final contract documents address only the successful bidder, who, after signing the client-contractor agreement, becomes the contractor.
Contract Forms. The agreement (contract) is the written document, signed by the client and contractor, which is the legal instrument binding the two parties. This contract defines the relationships and obligations that exist between the client and contractor. It incorporates other contract documents by reference.
The contract may require a construction performance bond for financial protection of the client in the event the contractor is unable to complete the work in accordance with the contract. Not all clients require performance bonds, but the architect should review its necessity with the client and prepare the bidding documents in accordance with the client’s decision.
The contract usually requires a contractor payment bond from the contractor to ensure that a surety will pay the labor force and material suppliers should the contractor fail to pay them. The use of this bond precludes the need for the labor force or suppliers to seek payment directly from the client, through liens or otherwise, because of nonpayment by the contractor.
Certificates include those project forms that may be required for insurance, certificate of compliance, guarantees or warranties, or compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Contract forms vary, depending on the type and usage of the project.
Contract Conditions. These define the rights, responsibilities, and relationships of the various parties involved in the construction process. Two types of contract conditions exist, General Conditions and Supplementary Conditions.
The General Conditions have general clauses that establish how the project is to be administered. They normally contain provisions that are common practice.
Definitions of project terms, temporary provisions, site security, management process required, and warranties and guarantees are among those items addressed in the General Conditions.
The Supplementary Conditions modify or supplement the general conditions to provide for requirements unique to a specific project and not normally found in standard General Conditions.