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General Requirements in Construction Contracts

By Steven A. Watchorn, Assoc. A.I.A., LEED AP

Often during the production of contract documents the plans and technical specifications are given such high priority by members of the project team that the general requirements of the Contract risk being overlooked.  These project-specific conditions may make-or-break many otherwise successful projects, unless they are carefully planned out well before the project goes out to bid.

The General Requirements are also referred to as Division 1 and they lay out many of the rules of the project that contractors must adhere to including hours of work, vehicular access and parking, temporary facilities, project signage, and administrative requirements such as coordination and scheduling. 

These requirements may often have very significant cost implications.  For instance, the administrative requirements may indicate whether fees and permits will be waived or paid for by the Contractor, and whether additional approvals are necessary before work commences.  If these requirements are not laid out in advance, the Contractor may be entitled to a Change Order.

Although many general requirements do have cost implications, the most essential purpose is to inform the Contractor(s) of their responsibilities during construction.  For renovation or restoration work in occupied buildings, the general requirements are extremely important.  This is where the requirements for protections, as well as the coordination and sequencing of the work are discussed so that occupants are not put in harm’s way.  For instance, the general requirements may indicate that work in one part of a building may not commence until certain precautions are met or until occupants are temporarily relocated.  The general requirements should indicate specific responsibilities of the contractor such as moving furniture or setting up temporary protections to separate the work areas from the occupied areas, and ensuring that emergency egress pathways are preserved and protected.  If a utility or service to an occupied area is to be interrupted for any length of time, the general requirements should indicate who is responsible for providing temporary service, if at all.

Many items covered in the general requirements are part of the project plan and are essential to any successful project.  Such logistical matters should be discussed early on in a project between the Owner and Architect.  It only makes sense then, not to leave these critical items to the very end.  If you have an example of a project that highlights the importance of the General Conditions, please leave a reply below.  We’d love to hear from you!