FORM & PURPOSE OF CONTRACT DOCUMENTS
Contract documents form basis on which a civil engineering contractor will prepare his tender and
carry out and complete the contract works. It is essential that the documents shall collectively detail
all the requirements of the project in a comprehensive and unambiguous way. They also identify all
the rights and duties of the main parties to the contract: i.e. the employer, engineer and the
contractor. Collectively they constitute a binding contract whereby the contractor undertakes to
construct works in accordance with the details supplied by the engineer and the employer agrees to
pay the contractor in stages during the execution of the works in the manner prescribed in the
The contract documents normally used in connection with civil engineering contracts are as follows:
i. Form of agreement
ii. Conditions of contract
iv. Bill of quantities
v. Contract drawings
vi. Form of tender
1. FORM OF AGREEMENT
It constitutes the formal agreement between the employer and the contractor for the execution of the
works in accordance with the other documents. The employer covenants to pay the contractor at the
times and in the manner prescribed by the contract.
2. CONDITIONS OF CONTRACT
It defines the terms under which the work is to be undertaken, the relationship between the
employer, the contractor and the engineer, the powers of the engineer and the terms of payment. For
many years it had been considered desirable to use a standard set of conditions which could, as for as
practicable, be applicable to all civil engineering contracts. Any special conditions relating to an
individual contract can be added to the general clauses.
In 1945 the Institution of Civil Engineering and the Federation of Civil Engineering contractors
issued a standard set of conditions of contract for use in connection with works of civil engineering
Where the contract is of very limited extent and the use of the standard comprehensive set of
conditions is not really justified, an abbreviated set of conditions, normally worked up from
appropriate set of standard conditions, is frequently adopted.
With certain specialised classes of civil engineering work the responsible authorities have seen fit to
introduce a number of clauses, which modify or supplement the standard clauses of the ICE
conditions. The making of modifications disputes which are better avoided, and they make the task
of the contractor in preparing his tender more difficult. An ICE publication emphasises the
desirability of adding special conditions, where necessary, instead of making modifications to
standard conditions. There is a separate set of conditions for use of government contracts for both
Building and Civil Engineering Works.
This document describes in details the work to be executed under the contract and the nature and
quality of the materials, components and workmanship. It gives details of any special responsibilities
to be borne by the contractor, apart from those covered by the general conditions of contract. It may
also contain clauses specifying the order in which the various sections of the work are to be carried
out, the methods to be adopted in the execution of the work and details of any special facilities that
are to be afforded to other contractors.
Specifications should also require tenderers to submit a programme and a description of proposed
methods and temporary works with their tenders. Care should be taken when drafting a specification
to avoid any conflict with provisions in the conditions of contract or bill of quantities.
The contractor tendering for a civil engineering project must therefore refer in many instances to the
specification for the details he needs on which to build up his contract rates, while on a building
contract, most of the information will be contained in the one document, that it, the bill of quantities.
Once the contract is under way, the civil engineering method has much in its favour with a good
comprehensive specification as a separate and strictly enforceable document. Guidance on the
preparation of civil engineering specifications, accompanied by extensive examples is contained in
civil engineering specifications.
4. BILL OF QUANTITIES
The bill of quantities consists of a schedule of the items, of work to be carried out under the contract
with quantities entered against each item, the quantities being prepared in accordance with the Civil
Engineering Standard Methods of Measurement. Owing to the small scale of many of the drawings,
the large extent of the works and the uncertainties resulting form difficult site conditions, the
quantities inserted in a bill are often approximate. Nevertheless, the quantities should be as accurate
as the information available allows and the descriptions accompanying each item must clearly
identify the work involved.
The unit rates entered by the contractor against each item in the bill of quantities normally include all
overhead charges and profit, but subject to the approach adopted in pricing methods-related charges
and the adjustment item in the ground summary. The contract usually makes provision for the
desirable that separate items should be incorporated as methods-related charges against which the
contractor may enter the cost of meeting various contingent liabilities under the contract, such as
special temporary works, and this aspect will be dealt with later.
Provision is often made for the execution of certain work at dayworks rates in civil engineering bill
One of the primary functions of a civil engineering bill of quantities is to provide a basis on which
tenders can be obtained, and, when these are priced, they afford a means of comparing the various
tenders received. After the contract has been signed, the rates in the priced bill of quantities can be
used to assess the value of the work as executed.
5. CONTRACT DRAWINGS
They depict the details and scope of the works to be executed under the contract. They must be
prepared in sufficient detail to enable the contractor to satisfactorily price the bill of quantities.
All available information as to the topography of the site and the nature of the soil and ground-water
should be made accessible to all contractors tendering for the project. The contract drawings will be
subsequently used when executing the works and may well be supplemented by further detailed
drawings as the work proceeds. Existing and proposed work should be clearly distinguished on the
drawings and full descriptions and explanatory notes should be entered on them. The more explicit
the drawings the less likelihood will there be of disputes subsequently arising concerning the
character or extent of the works. Ample figured dimensions should be inserted on drawings for
maximum accuracy in taking-off quantities and in setting out constructional work on site. Drawings
may incorporate or be accompanied by schedules, such as those record details of steel reinforcement,
and manholes. For example, a contract encompassing a sewage treatment works, sewers and other
associated work could be depicted on the following drawings: layout of sewage treatment works;
working drawings of each section of the works, such as site works, inlet works, primary tanks,
aeration tanks, secondary tanks, pump-houses and culverts and pipe-work to a scale of 1:50 or 1:100
layout of the sewers and manholes after on a 1:2000 plan, etc.
6. FORM OF TENDER
"The form of tender" constitutes a formal offer to construction, complete and maintain the contract
works in accordance with the various contract documents for the tender sum. It usually incorporated
the contract period within which the contractor is to complete the works. Normally the tenderer
submits a tender complying fully with the specifications, but in some instances he is permitted to
offer alternative forms of construction. The employer's written acceptance of the offer is binding
pending the completion f the agreement.
The form of tender now largely used for civil engineering contracts is the form incorporated in the
conditions of contract for use in connection with works of civil engineering construction. This form
of tender provides for a "bond" often amounting to 10% of the tender sum. The contractor may be
required to enter into the bond, whereby he provides two sureties or a bank or insurance company
who are prepared to pay up to, say 10% of the contract sum if the contract is not carried out
The appendix of this form of tender covers the amount of the bond, minimum amount of the bond,
minimum amount of insurance, time for completion, amount of liquidated damages, period of
maintenance, vesting of materials not on site, method of measurement used, percentage for
adjustments of prime cost sums, percentage of value of goods and materials to be included in interim
certificates and minimum amount of certificates.
The form of tender is normally accompanied by ‘Instructions to Tenderers,’ which aim to assist
tenderers in the preparation of their tenders, and to ensure that they are presented in the form
required by the Employer and the Engineer.