How can you ensure the success of your variation claims?
- Read and understand the contract document before starting the project. Many contractors don’t read their contract documents until they are in trouble. It’s too late then. Know your rights and obligations before starting work. Understand what the client’s obligations are and ensure these are met.
- Have an approved construction schedule which is updated regularly. The schedule must reflect the chosen construction methods and be linked correctly. The construction schedule will form the basis of all delay claims. The construction schedule protects both the contractor and the customer.
- Ensure that good accurate records are kept. This includes daily diaries or reports. Check that meeting minutes are a fair reflection of what was said at the meeting. Remember, even minor inconsistencies between different documents could trip your claim up. A missing document could be the difference between a successful claim and one that’s rejected. Accurate documents are essential to support your variation claims.
- All instructions of a contractual nature must be in writing. It’s very difficult to substantiate verbal instructions. People can be very forgetful – especially when money is involved.
- Spend time on preparing variation claims. You work hard to make a $10,000 dollar profit. Why shouldn’t you put effort into preparing a variation claim for $10,000?
- Ask for help. Discuss the variation claim with those directly involved with the work. They may remember things and costs which you were unaware of or forgot. Ask for expert advice when necessary.
- Don’t play mister nice guy, just play by the rules. If you are entitled to lodge a variation claim then do so immediately. If the client has delayed you then submit a delay claim. Don’t hope it will work out at the end of the project. If the project is finished late the client will deduct delay damages from you – that’s just the rules of the contract. Many contracts have clauses which time bar claims that are late. Anyway, clients hate unpleasant surprises when contractors realise they’re in trouble at the end of the project and submit a whole bunch of variation claims.
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'Construction Claims: A Short Guide for Contractors'
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