construction contractor

Five Main Types of Construction Contracts

A Short Summary: Types of Construction contracts

1. Uniting Pricing Contracts

Repetitive activities are what projects with unit prices frequently involve. The general approach in these cases is to pay the contractor a certain amount for each unit of production. Units of work could be various things like square footage, linear feet, or whatever units are chosen for measurement.

Best Practices

  • Exacting Estimates: For units, they must provide accurate and equitable estimates, to avoid disputes in the future.
  • Clear Scope Definition: Define the concept of a "unit" clearly in the contract to prevent any misunderstandings.
  • Quality Checks: Practice regular quality control assessments to ensure that high speed doesn't affect quality.

When to Use?

Unit prices are appropriate for projects that require a large amount of repetitive work, such as road construction or utility installations. They are most practical when you can easily and readily divide the work into units suitable for measurement.

2. Design-Build Contracts in Construction

Design-build contracts provide a consolidated approach to construction where the contractor is responsible for both the design and construction of the building. This integration often streamlines the process.

Best Practices

  • Thorough Contractor Vetting: High standards and carefully selected candidates are essential. They must have both design and construction experience and a record of success.
  • Clear Communication and Documentation: Requirements and changes require clear communication channels and detailed documentation.
  • Balanced Involvement: Make sure that the customer remains involved at key points and phases, particularly in the design stage.

When to Use?

Design-build contracts are especially useful in situations where time is of the essence. They are most appropriate for clients who want a hands-off approach, trusting all of their needs to a single source.

3. Fixed-Price Contracts in Construction

Fixed price contracts in construction offer control over costs and some certainty. In this case, the construction contractor commits to finish the project at an agreed price. This figure is the product of all labor, materials, equipment, and other indirect costs included in it.

Best Practices

  • Detailed Scope Documentation: Clarity of project scope to minimize misunderstandings and conflicts.
  • Agile Plans: Contractors include a contingency in their bid to cover unexpected costs.
  • Regular Communication: Communication between contracting parties must be a two-way street.

When to Use?

Fixed price contracts work best on projects where the scope is well-defined, and the risks of overruns are low or can be relied on to follow a pattern. These contracts are well-suited to customers who are concerned primarily with keeping to budgets over building flexibility.

4. Cost Plus Contracts in Construction

Cost-plus contracts for construction take a more flexible approach. Under this arrangement, the owner pays the actual cost of the job, while his contractor adds a charge (representing his profit onto that). This can either be a lump sum or a percentage.

Best Practices

  • 'Not-to-Exceed' Clause: It's important to implement a maximum amount to keep costs from spiraling. That way, the company can still keep an eye on the bill.
  • Regular Expense Audits: To maintain openness both parties should agree on conducting regular examinations of expenditure.
  • Detailed Record Keeping: All costs and expenses should be tracked and recorded by a contractor.

When to Use?

Scope creep or vague scope; cost-plus Construction Contracts are applicable for these kinds of projects. They are ideal for more personal relationships between the customer and contractor and when clients want to know more about money.

5. Time and Material Contracts in Construction

Time and material contracts are ideal for projects where the scope is not fully defined. With the client paying for only actual hours, the price is factored by the materials. Clients must also pay a manufacturer's markup.

Best Practices

  • Imposing a Ceiling on Costs: By setting a certain sum, it is possible to control all spending well.
  • Regular Progress Reports: It's really important to have regular progress updates and clear, open communications with clients so they're never left in the dark.
  • Best to Keep Detailed Hour-by-Hour Time Sheets: A contractor should keep detailed records of his time and materials purchased.

Read Related: The 6 Most Important Elements of Construction Contracts


Construction contracts are important in the construction industry and are crucial for the successful execution of projects. It is always a practical question to what extent the provision of different types differs in size or shape satisfies each contract. By carefully considering Construction Contracts key aspects, stakeholders can ensure clarity, avoid risk, and yield successful project outcomes.