documents that will become part of this specific contract. All of these documents govern how the project is to be built, and, hence each is important to the supervisor. It is clear that the set of construction contract documents is very extensive and complex. These contract documents tell the supervisor what to construct and how the project will run. It is, therefore, very important that the supervisor has a complete set of contract documents for her/his portion of the project and knows how to read, understand, and use these documents. In the event the supervisor does not want the full contract or the supervisor’s manager does not want to provide the full contract, it becomes very important for the manager to provide the supervisor extensive information from the contract to support the work of the supervisor.
It can be helpful in understanding an agreement to remember several things that go together. These will be called couplets.
Rights and Responsibilities
A major part of what a contract does is to define the rights, opportunities, and protections; and the responsibilities, obligations, and risks assigned to the parties. To the extent possible, the rights and the responsibilities need to be balanced. That is, if a responsibility is assigned a contractor, that contractor should have the rights that go along with that responsibility. If a risk is allocated to a contractor, the appropriate protections should also be assigned to that contractor.
Construction contracts are hierarchical. That is, there is a prime contract, with the owner, and then a series of subcontracts and sub-subcontracts that assign much of the work to lower-tier, specialty contractors. Often, a higher-tier contractor will write a subcontract such that the protections afforded by their contract remain with the contractor while the subcontract allocates as much risk as possible down the chain to a lower-tier contractor. When negotiating a contract, it is important, to the extent possible, to pass rights, opportunities, and protections in the higher-tier contract that relate to the responsibility assigned to the subcontractor through to the subcontractor.
For example, the contract documents, specifically the drawings and specifications, define the work to be performed by the subcontractor. The subcontractor has the responsibility to develop means and methods to accomplish this work. However, the work is not done in a vacuum. The ConsensusDOCS 750TM Article 5.2 recognizes the primary responsibility of the contractor to develop the project schedule, but it also affords the subcontractor the right to participate in development of the project schedule:
In consultation with the Subcontractor, the Contractor shall prepare the schedule for performance of the Work (the Project Schedule) and shall revise and update such schedule, as necessary, as the Work progresses.
Many contractors prefer to develop the schedule and hand it to the subcontractors. Sophisticated contractors have learned that, not only is it important to the