How To Write a Construction Contract

contruction contract kenyaA contract is a voluntary agreement entered by two or more parties with the aim of creating a legally binding document.

The Advantages of a construction contract.

  •   It is legally binding.
  •   It ensures timely completion of projects.
  •   All signatories of a contract have guidelines to work under.
  •   Mode of payment, time of payment and payment amount against milestones achieved is also put down on paper.

There are oral and written contracts.

Today we will talk about written contracts. This is the best option because of the many details involved in construction. In written contracts, we also have Bills of quantities (BQ).

The contractor does the pricing and measurements in BQ. This document is used as a guide and benchmark throughout the construction period up to the end of the project. It is a guide on the type of material, size of work and the cost of doing a unit job. BQ is important for valuation and cost control of projects.

The greatest challenge with BQ is the jargon used that is sometimes difficult for an ordinary person to understand. This is a tender document preferred in big projects, companies’ projects and even some residential developers also prefer BQ.

It is a very important contract document since it gives a developer an idea of what to expect till the end of the project. Today we are going to look at a relatively simple contract that is easy to understand but at the same time very detailed.

What should a contract document have?

1. Scope of works.

A contract agreement should show the Scope of work describes detailed specifications of a job at hand. This includes;   type and size of materials and dimensions of the work. This is where both contractor and developer should be very keen. Developers are swindled because of not knowing the scope of works. For builders it helps to know the variables.

Mostly, scope of works is derived from project drawings and plans, which themselves are also part of the contract documents.

2. Cost of works and payment terms

In the contract document the cost of doing a task should be spelt out clearly and payment schedules included. It should be explained when payments are to be made; that is at what stage of the development.

A clause about inflation should be noted, especially where fuel prices are unpredictable. A contract also should have a validity period, especially those that commence many months after signing.

 3. Time frame for doing the work.

What time is allocated for each specific task? Make sure each and every stage has a time frame on it. This is achieved easily when one develops a work programme, time-table or chart.

4. Obligations of each party.

This is important to both parties. What are the roles of the parties involved? Is the developer going to buy materials and contractor to build only or is it supply and fix, where developer pays the builder lump sum to buy and build? Who will take care of security of the site? Who pays for electricity and water used?Obligation should be clearly spelt out.

5. Breach of contract.

This actually helps both parties incase one party does not fulfill his/her responsibilities and duties as spelt out in the contract.

Normally the arbiter in these scenarios is either the police or courts of the land. In some cases both parties can choose an arbitrator to assist in settling the complaints.

From experience, to reduce the amount in contention it is always better to break the work in stages and also pay in stages, with the last payment made after successful completion of the last stage.


A good contract should have detailed scope of works. As explained at the beginning, it helps the client to know exactly what the contract amount is , removes the grey areas for the contractor, it is easy to note down variation of works and covers the possible scope of works for different stages in building processes.

Scope of works for various stages of constructions.

 Site Clearance.

  • Does the site have trees to be cut, bushes to be cleared and vegetable soil to be removed? Is there a cost of removing the cut trees and earthworks excavated? Will the work be done manually or with help of machines?

 Excavation of Foundation

  • Foundation is the base of the house and it must be dug to the required depth. It can be strip foundation or a column base; point to note.
    • The length, width and height of foundation; is the whole area covering the house being excavated, especially for black cotton?
    • The rate for excavation also should be known, is it to be done manually or by machine?
    • Does it include removing the excavated materials on site?

2. Concrete for strip foundation or column base.

  •  Size of the concrete works: the length, depth and width of the concrete. Be it strip foundation, base of column should be stated.
  • Type and size of aggregates to use.
  • Type and size of reinforcement bars if any.
  • Who will pay for the mixer and poker vibrator?

3.  Foundation walling,

  • This is the walling that is built down in the ground; it rests on the concrete foundation,
  • What is the type and size of stones?
  • The ratio of mortar.
  • How high should the foundation wall be from the ground level?
  • How many courses are to be built?

4. Hardcore filling.

This is the stone filling in between the foundation wall, spread over the whole area of the house. In the contract it should be stated:

  • The type of hardcore to be used.
  • The depth of hardcore to be laid.
  • The type of tool to be used for compaction.
  • Depth and type of stones to be used.

Murrum blinding.

Because hardcore leaves large spaces in between, to create an even surface, murrum blinding is done.

  • What will be used for compaction; is it hand roller, a driven one and what is the Tonnage.
  • What is the type of blinding, is it murrum or quarry dust?
  • What is the thickness of blinding?

Anti-Termite Treatment.

This is a standard procedure to eliminate the possibility of pests destroying the foundation of the house.

  • The type of chemical to be used.
  • The method of treatment to be applied.

 Dump proof material.

Dump proof material is placed above the murrum blinding; its main role is to prevent water and moisture from the ground into the concrete slab.

  • The scope of works should state the type; polythene or bituminous, if its polythene what gauge should be used?

Ground Floor Reinforcement.

This is steel reinforcement done on ground floor slab, on top of dump proof material. Normally, unless stated by the engineer, a mesh wire is used and it is spread over the entire ground floor area.

  • There are various types of mesh wire so it should be stated in the contract the type to be used.

Drainage Pipe work.

These are the sewer and waste water pipes concreted in the ground floor slab.

In the contract it should be stated;

  • The number of sewer points to be placed.
  • The number of waste water points, floor traps to be used etc.
  • The class of pipe and accessories to be used.

Electrical Pipe Work.

  • The piping done at this stage in the ground slab is mainly for the power points of ground the points for sockets.
  • It will be important to know where the sockets will be in each and every room.
  • The class of conduits used should be stated.

Ground Floor Concrete Slab.

  • The thickness of the slab should be stated.
  • Class of concrete to use.
  • Type and size of aggregates to use.
  • The type of plants to use and who pays for them.

 Dump Proof Course.

  • This material is slightly thicker than thickness of the wall. It is placed beneath the first course of the wall to prevent moisture from affecting the walls.
  • State the type of material to use.


  • The type and size of material to be used for walling: is it bricks or stones
  • If it is stone, is it 9 inch or 6 inch. Is it machine cut stones, uncut stones, stone dressed or bush hammered stones.
  • The type and gauge of hoop iron to use and after how many courses.
  • The ratio of mortar to be used.
  • The height of the wall.
  • Are there columns? How many and of what sizes? Ratio of mix.

 Scope of work for Upper floor Slab work.

For storied building, the details of the slab should be stated in the contract.  Reference to structural designs Included in the contract should be.

  • Details of formwork. Is slab formwork to be hired?
  • Details of steel work.
  • Details of concrete works, including use of machine for mixing, poker vibrator, cranes or pulleys.
  • The electrical, plumbing and drainage details in slab and the number and positions of electrical power points in the slab. Same to apply for drainage pipes

 Scope of work for Ring beam.

The ring beam details include;

  • Size and type of steel and spacing.
  • Class of concrete to be used.
  • Type and size of aggregates to be used.

The type of plants to use and who pays for them.

Scope of work for Roofing.

  • What is the roof covering?
  • Type and size of timber.
  • Spacing of the trusses and truss members.
  • The details of trusses including the height of the king-post.
  •  The pitch.

(a)External windows and doors.

  • Type of windows or doors.
  • Materials to be used, timber, steel aluminum e.t.c
  • Details of grills.

 (b)Plumbing and drainage.

  • To what extent is the piping? Is the internal piping up to and including the internal tank. What about external piping? Is it from main water source to the internal tank? At what stage should this be done? Included is testing of plumbing pipes and tank for leakage.
  • What about drainage pipe? How many flow traps are there, waste water pipes and sewer pipes?
  • What are the sizes of pipes, gauge of the pipes and the accessories to be used?

(c)Electrical work

  • At this point, it should be stated the type of socket boxes and pipes to be used, included here are lighting points and switches.

 Door fittings:

  • This should include fixing the door frame to the wall. It should be known whether the door frame will be pre-joined or done on site.
  • It should be stated the works will include fixing of the door to frame and putting the locks.
  • Architraves and quadrants should also be in the contract; including the sizes.

 Kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and shelves:

This section is guided mainly by architect’s design. Points to note;

  • The boards to be used, is it block board, chipboard or mdf. (Note: fake mdf are being sold).

Plaster Rendering.

  • This should include the wall, floor screening and ceiling, if it’s a storied building.
  • The external wall finish also should be included, it should be pointed out whether the external wall is going to have key or will be plastered.
  • It should be noted that sometimes a wall could be cladded with natural stones or bricks, which also need to be factored in.

 Ceiling works.

  • This includes the veranda eaves around the house.
  • The cost of timber work; bantering, type of timber and size. All these should be stated in the contract. The space between the timber members to receive the ceiling covering.
  • The ceiling cover should also be stated.
  • The type of ceiling design should also be stated.
  • The type of cornice should be spelt out in the contract.

Floor finish.

  • There are so many types of floor finishes: ceramic tiles, granite, Marble, wood, e.t.c. Ceramic and wood parquet is widely used.
  • For ceramic finish. The work should include placing, grouting and cleaning the ceramic.
  • For wood floor finish, there is placing, sanding and polishing of the wood floor to gloss.

For fittings like plumbing and electrical, is important to know exactly what is going to be fitted. If possible shop around with the fundi and select what fits your pocket and lifestyle.

Paint Work.

  • It should be stated the number of coats, the type of paint and filling of cracks. Windows and doors also should be included in the internal paint works.

These are some of the details that should be included in a contract document.


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