Conditions of contract published NZS 3910:2013

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Standards New Zealand has published NZS 3910:2013 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering construction. As the most widely used standard form of contract in New Zealand, the updated standard will be particularly welcome by the building, construction, engineering, and infrastructure industries.

Meeting the needs of the sector

First published in 1987, the standard has gone through several revisions, most recently in 2003. Following sector feedback and an analysis by the Engineering Leadership Forum, a scoping meeting to consider revisions to the standard was held in 2011. During the scoping meeting it was agreed to conduct a limited technical review of the standard to bring it up to date and reduce the need for extensive special conditions.

A 17-member technical committee (P 3910) was established to conduct the review. Led by Chair Sherwyn Williams, the committee members are all experts in their respective fields and brought a vast amount of knowledge and experience to the complex review.

During the development process, the committee concluded that the standard should be published as three standards tailored to meet the specific needs of users. The suite of standards includes NZS 3910 and two other standards that are to be published shortly:

  • NZS 3916 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering – Design and construct
  • NZS 3917 Conditions of contract for building and civil engineering – Fixed term.

Together these three Standards supersede NZS 3910:2003. The standards are clear, flexible, and fair, and compatible with the Construction Contracts Act 2002 and other New Zealand legislation.

The new NZS 3910:2013 contains a number of changes, including:

  • additional provisions on cost reimbursement contracts
  • more specific provisions on programmes, safety plans, quality plans, and traffic management plans
  • provision for advance notification of matters likely to affect cost or time
  • updated insurance provisions
  • clearer provisions for valuing variations
  • more workable provisions relating to payment claims and payment schedules
  • the addition of new schedules, covering warranties, off-site materials, and practical and final completion certificates
  • 'smart documents' for schedules to allow unique contract items to be added while retaining the elements of the main clauses.

Like the previous edition, the revised standard also includes provisions for a bond in lieu of retentions.

A winning combination

In August this year, the P 3910 technical committee received Standard New Zealand's Committee of the Year Award through the Meritorious Service Awards for their excellent work on the suite of standards. From start to finish, committee members worked cohesively both within working groups and at committee meetings.

In addition, Chair Sherwyn Williams received an individual Meritorious Service Award for his leadership through the review. With over 40 years' experience as a lawyer specialising in construction and arbitration law, Williams was able to bring his expertise to the role. He is a consultant with Kensington Swan and is the immediate past-President of the New Zealand Society of Construction Law.

Due to the hard work of the committee and important feedback from the sector, including input through the public consultation process, a robust suite of standards have been developed. These standards will enable developers, engineers, contractors, architects, designers, and others in the building sector to quickly establish contractual arrangements that deliver a wide variety of building and civil engineering projects.

Published in building.

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