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New RIBA contracts for small scale commercial and domestic projects

Last month I wrote an article on the new RIBA contracts, the RIBA Concise Building Contract and the RIBA Domestic Building Contract. It has been noted that the new contracts are similar to the JCT Minor Works Contract and the JCT Home Owner Contract.

RIBA Domestic Building Contract v JCT Homeowner Contracts

The RIBA Contract describes its client as a Residential Occupier: it is suitable for all types of non-commercial building work. The JCT Contract describes its client as a home owner/occupier: it is intended for small domestic building works such as extensions and alterations.

The RIBA Contract is easy to follow in 3 main parts: it also includes guidance notes and an explanation of terms which is useful for the Residential Occupier (named as the customer in the Contract). It also includes an appendix at the back which gives the layout for a Notice of Cancellation. The JCT Contract is a basic 8 pages set out in two parts (the arrangement for the work and the conditions) it is also very easy to follow but does not include any guidance notes or an explanation of terms and even though it includes less provisions than the RIBA Contract, it may be difficult to follow.  Both Contracts have easy payment mechanisms and allow for payments in stages.

The RIBA Contract is currently up-to-date on all consumer regulation (including the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 whereas the JCT Contract is not. Below I have listed the 4 main distinctions between these 2 Contracts.

  • Under the RIBA Contract, The customer is entitled to liquidated damages if the contractor fails to achieve practical completion of the work/section of works (Item I, clause 10). The JCT Contract has no provision for this.
  • There is no collaborative working provision in the JCT Contract.
  • The JCT Contract does not allow for completion in sections whereas the RIBA Contract does.
  • There is no detailed rule governing application and calculation of changes to the completion date in the JCT Contract but there is in the RIBA Contract.

In conclusion, the JCT Contract is prefect to use in a small projects such as alterations, where the RIBA Contract maybe too complex. If the works are slightly more complex such as large extensions, the RIBA Contract or the JCT Minor Works Contract may be more applicable as it has more provisions for extensions of time and completions in sections.

RIBA Concise Building Contract v JCT Minor Works Contract

The RIBA Concise Building Contract describes its client as private and public employers: it is suitable for all types of commercial building works and is set out in the same 3 sections as the Domestic Building Contract. The JCT Minor Works Contract describes its client as Private and local Authority Employers and is intended for smaller projects (domestic or otherwise) but can be used in larger ones provided the works involved are simple in character.

The RIBA Contract is 30 pages long as is set out in the same way as the Domestic Building Contract with guidance notes and a useful explanation of terms. The JCT Contract is 45 pages long and is set out in 4 sections including guidance notes and schedules.

Unlike the JCT Homeowner, this JCT Contract includes a provision for collaborative working as does the RIBA Concise Building Contract. They both also include a provision for liquidated damages. Both also include useful guidance notes.

The main differences between these two contracts are listed below:

  • The RIBA Contract has a provisions for advance payment and flexible payment provisions whereas the JCT Contract does not. The RIBA Contract uses milestones payments which are not included in the JCT Contract.
  • There are no provisions for completion in sections in the JCT Contract but there is in the RIBA Contract.

In conclusion, as with the other two contracts, the JCT Contract would come to better use if the project is simpler in character. The JCT Contract is not suitable for use where the Works are of a complex nature. The RIBA Contract allows for extra provisions which would be more relevant in complex projects.

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These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice

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