10 Essential Contract Documents for Every Construction Project

Scoping is key, as well as schedules and construction costs.

No matter what you're building, constructing a solid contract represents one of the first steps toward  the success of your project. This list contains the documents that typically compose part of every construction contract. There also are numerous other exhibits or forms that you can use in combination with the documents listed below. For example:

  • Instruction Forms
  • Time Extension Claim
  • Request for Information
  • Preliminary Building Agreement
  • Progress Payment Certificate
  • Practical Completion Notice
  • Defects Document
  • Contract Information Statement

Contract Agreements and Contracts

Contract Agreement
Contract Agreement. Photo Jarmoluk

The agreement to be used by the contracting officer (owner) and the contractor.The essential part of the contract documents. More

Statement of Work (SOW)

Carpenter's helper
Easy way to calculate lenghts using the app. Photo J Rodriguez

A solid scope will be helpful during the bidding process and later on during the construction sequence.  A well-defined scope will be used to determine the amount of work needed to complete the work. More

General Conditions

General Conditions
General conditions are vital to a project. Photo PortlandGeneralElectric Flickr

This contract document will define the obligations and rights on how to execute the project. Overhead costs, what to claim and your rights must be included in this portion of the contract.

Special Conditions

Special conditions
Special conditions will dictate specific requirements. Photo US ARMY

This is usually an extension of the contract and to the general conditions. This part must specify specific conditions and clauses to each particular project or job. Pay special attention to specific instructions and requirements on how to perform the work.

Bill of Quantities

This is formed by the list of diverse trades, and materials included that form part of the construction. Sometimes this document is not required by the contracting officer.


As-built drawings
As-built drawings. Photo Aldona Fire

All set of drawings that form part of the job to be performed. These drawings are usually the latest drawings and must be received by the contractor prior to the date of commencement. It must include all drawings from consultants, and will constitute the entire project being contracted. More

CSI MasterFormat Outline

The technical requirement to complete, execute and/or perform every little task or material being incorporated in the construction projects. It will add intelligence to the construction drawings; specify common standards, deviations accepted, materials accepted and the required testing for all materials. Usually, specifications are made by referencing construction standards and codes. More

Creating Construction Schedule

Schedule sample. Courtesy of jwalker64

The construction schedule is an important piece of the document. In this part, the contracting office will know how and when the project will be completed. Sometimes, construction contracts will require updated schedules throughout the construction progress, and might form part of the monthly, or agreed term, application for payments. More

Costs in the Construction Industry

Building materials
Building materials. Photo J Rodriguez

Breakdown of all items being incorporated in the construction project. This is usually the base of the application for payment. It can be detailed per item or in a lump sum form, not specifying individual items. More

List of Common Types of Construction Insurance

This part will be an essential part of the contracting officer, since, it will provide the guarantee to the owner that the contractor has the means and the economic backup to perform the construction contract. It will include specific types of coverage’s, required bonding, and all insurance protections to the owner, the contractor and third parties. More

Need More?

You can also include details on when to issue stop work orders, information about liens, staffing requirements, safety instructions, and excusable events on how they can be identified. The list can go on and every contractor or builder must look into any particular depending on their industry and trade specification. An important part of these documents is to establish a way on how to solve claims, issues and in the case of any legal action, which is the legal body that will be used to present claims and solve potential conflicts.