Kelvin Hughes, author of NEC4: A Guide for Better Delivery of Projects in the Building Sector, discusses his book and the advantages of NEC4 contracts.
I have been involved with the NEC contracts since 1995, just after they were first launched. I was initially involved in directly promoting use of the, then newly launched, NEC contracts and I was Secretary to the NEC Users Group in its first 10 years. I have since managed many NEC contracts; I have provided nearly 2,000 training courses on their use, and I have written several books on the contracts.
Over the years, when speaking to building clients about their potential use of NEC contracts, the response often was, and in many cases still is, “NEC contracts are for civil engineering projects. We only carry out building projects, so NEC contracts are not appropriate for us”.
My new book NEC4: A Guide for Better Delivery of Projects in the Building Sector sets out to open-up discussion about the suitability of using NEC4 contracts for building projects, and to effectively demonstrate that NEC4 contracts are at least as suitable, and probably better than, the contracts that are traditionally being used for building projects.
So what is the difference between a building project and a civil engineering project?
These are my own definitions:
"A building project designs and constructs the enclosures in which we live and work”
"A civil engineering project designs and constructs the infrastructure that supports the enclosures, including transport and service networks."
In terms of the appropriate contracts to use for building or civil engineering projects, the purpose of any construction contract is to establish, define, regulate and allow the parties to manage the following aspects of the project:
So what is in the content of a building contract that only makes it suitable for use on building projects? Or a civil engineering contract that only makes it suitable for use on civil engineering projects?
NOTHING…apart from the party that administers the contract. For example:
NEC4 simply has a Project Manager or a Service Manager to manage its contracts on behalf of the Client.
Why do I consider NEC4 to be a more advantageous contract to use than those contracts considered traditional building contracts?
1. The NEC4 family
NEC4 offers a wider range of contracts than other contract families:
2. Flexibility through main and secondary options
NEC contracts provide greater flexibility than other contracts through their main and secondary option clauses. The main options provided flexibility in terms of how tenders are priced and how the Contractor is paid. The secondary options continue that flexibility by allowing additional contract provisions to be introduced.
3. Provisions specific to NEC contracts, and which are not included within traditional building contracts
In conclusion, and bearing in mind the above, building practitioners should surely be asking themselves, “why are we not using NEC contracts”?
Kelvin Hughes is a senior Partner at KH Consultants LLB and has over 45 years’ experience in the construction industry, including 18 years in commercial management with major contractors, then the past 28 years as a consultant, including a four-year senior lectureship at the University of Glamorgan (now “University of South Wales”). He has been a leading authority on the NEC contract since 1996, and has advised and run over 1,700 in-house and public courses worldwide on NEC, FIDIC, JCT, IChemE and other local international contracts, from Introduction up to Masterclass level. He was previously Secretary of the NEC Users’ Group and is the author of seven previous titles on the NEC suite of contracts.
To find out more about NEC contracts in the building sector, read Kelvin Hughes' book NEC4: A Guide for Better Delivery of Projects in the Building Sector in Print or as an eBook.