Owner vs. Contractor Duties in a Construction Contract

Construction contracts are the blueprint of a successful project. They are generally executed between the project owner and the general contractor and define the scope, terms, and conditions of the agreement. Below is a general overview of the owner vs. contractor duties in most construction contracts.

Contractor’s Duties

Contractors owe the owner a duty to provide services in a competent and professional manner. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Identifying and obtaining the required resources. This includes a competent and skilled workforce for all necessary specialized and general tasks, a sufficient supply of construction materials, and all required equipment.
  • Setting and following the project schedule and budget. If either one needs to be adjusted, the contractor must communicate with the owner.
  • Addressing all legal and regulatory requirements and issues. This includes obtaining all necessary permits before construction begins.
  • Supervising, directing, and inspecting the project from start to finish, to ensure success as defined by the construction agreement.
  • Ensuring that the project complies with all of the specifications in the contract documents.
  • Implementing a reliable and consistent communication strategy between all stakeholders.
  • Ensuring occupational health and safety on the construction site. This includes effective risk management strategies, hazard communication programs, and preventive safety measures.

Owner’s Duties

The project owner has an implied duty to cooperate with the general contractor and refrain from acting in ways that interfere with or intentionally delay the contractor’s work. Other duties include:

  • Warranting the plans, specifications, and any owner-furnished building materials. This includes bearing responsibility for any inaccuracies or defects.
  • Ensuring adequate funding for all payables. This includes reserve funding for any legitimate change orders.
  • Paying the contractor after the receipt of each invoice, either within the time period specified or in accordance with applicable statutes.
  • Providing all necessary site surveys needed for proper installation of the work. This includes accurate locations of all existing utilities like phone lines, sewer systems, and storm lines.
  • Obtaining and paying for easements so that the contractor has access to the site.
  • Obtaining all required agency approvals and complying with building code requirements so that the contractor can obtain a building permit.
  • Disclosing any superior knowledge that directly or indirectly relates to the work. This could include unavailability of a specific building material or soil condition issues that could impede progress.
  • Providing clarification and reviewing change orders promptly in order to minimize any impact on the construction schedule.

Essentially, both the owner and contractor are legally obligated to act in good faith during the performance of their contractual obligations. This includes cooperating with one another and keeping an open line of communication for the duration of the project. A properly-drafted construction contract makes it possible for owners and contractors to work together to achieve time, budget, and quality objectives.

Contact a Construction Law Attorney

At Rosen Law, LLC, our construction law attorneys draft contracts that cover a multitude of project types, from residential developments to office skyscrapers and vast, multi-unit retail complexes. Our industry knowledge and experience helps clients navigate issues and resolve challenges in these construction projects in order to support a successful outcome. For more information, please contact us today.

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