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Should I sign a contract? Part 1

Contracts are scary. Most of us only ever come across them a few times in our lives: when taking on a new job, buying a house, or clicking 'I AGREE' in a terms and conditions box (probably the most scary!). If you're taking on building works of a significant scale then you're going to be around a whole lot of contracts, and this is probably a good thing.

This post is a two-parter based on the two contracts you're likely to come across when taking on a home extension.

Firstly let's look at contracts that are between you and your design consultants (these are generally known as appointments). If an Architect is registered then they have a professional obligation to make sure they have a contract in place for every job they take on. This is designed to protect both the client and architect, and make sure both parties are on the same page before works begin. The RIBA have a library of different appointments for different projects, and they are designed to be simple, effective and easy to understand.

I've just finished preparing a set of appointment documents for a job, and these consist of the contract, scope of services, fee schedule and a letter. It's a lot, and it's daunting to send out, let alone receive. BUT, there are a number of good reasons for this!

A good appointment:

- ensures both parties agree on the scope of work involved right from the start

- provides a record of the brief

- describes by what methods disputes can be settled

- logs the fees for the entire project, and sets out fees for additional works as yet unknown

- ensures the consultant carries the appropriate insurance to take on the work

Despite knowing all this, contracts are still scary (especially if you're unfamiliar with the construction terminology). So above all when presented with an appointment make sure you talk to your consultant about it if there's anything you don't understand - they should be happy to help.

In the next post, we look into the agreement you will have with your builder or contractor Building Contract - Part 2 here.

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