Management of Construction

Construction General conditions

We now turn to the written materials that, together with the drawings, completely describe the design professional’s intent with respect to the project. Historically, the term specifications has referred only to the requirements for the project’s technical details. However, as Clough and Sears (1994) point out,

it has become customary to include the bidding and contract documents together with the technical specifications, the entire aggregation being variously referred to as the project manual, project handbook, construction documents book, or most commonly, simply as the specifications or ‘specs’.

One essential document in the project manual is the general conditions. The general conditions, sometimes called the general provisions, set forth the rights and responsibilities of the owner and contractor and also of the surety bond provider, the authority and responsibility of the design professional and the requirements governing the various parties’ business and legal relationships. These conditions are ‘general’ in the sense that they can apply to any project of a certain type; sometimes they are referred to as the ‘boilerplate’, based on the somewhat erroneous notion that they are simply attached to the other documents with no further thought. As explained in the introduction to this section, many organisations have produced standard documents and these certainly include general conditions. A review of several such sets indicates that they provide much similarity of subject matter, despite various headings and topics. The New Zealand Conditions of Contract for Building and Civil Engineering Construction (Standards New Zealand Paerewa Aotearoa, 1998) include 15 sections, including such topics as the contract, general obligations, engineer’s powers and duties, time for completion, payments and disputes. One helpful outline of the numerous provisions in the typical general conditions is provided by Robbins (1996) as follows:

 definitions and abbreviations
 bidding requirements
 contract and subcontract procedure
 scope of the work
 control of the work
 legal and public relations
– damage claims
– laws, ordinances and regulations
– responsibility for work
– explosives
– sanitary provisions
– public safety and convenience
– accident prevention
– property damage
– public utilities
– abatement of soil erosion, water pollution and air pollution
 prosecution and progress
– commencement and prosecution of the work
– time of completion
– suspension of work

– unavoidable delays
– annulment and default of contract
– liquidated damages
– extension of time
 measurement and payment
– measurement of qualities
– scope of payment
– change in plans
– payment
– termination of contractor responsibility
– guarantee against defective work
– dispute resolution.

Note that all of these provisions relate to the relationships among the parties and the legal and management issues attendant to the construction contract but not to the technical matters related to design. These latter issues come later in the technical specifications.

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