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Contract Essentials

Contract essentials are that there is agreement, contractual intention and consideration. If all of these ingredients are present then there is a contract, irrespective of whether it is in writing. The problems arise where all or some of the major terms are not set down in writing and the parties then disagree over what these were.

Agreement or Contractual Intention?

The question of whether there was an agreement and contractual intention are viewed objectively. This means that conduct can be considered as well as anything put in writing. For example, if the owner of a property lets a builder into the property to do work there is a presumption that the parties agreed to enter into a contract.


Consideration means that both parties get something of value. The property owner usually gets work done and the builder usually gets paid in return, or at least that is how it is supposed to work. The fact that either party does not then stick to what they agreed does not mean the contract fails for lack of consideration.


The courts will not uphold an agreement to do something which is illegal and will not uphold a contract that is too vague to have any real certainty. However, building contracts can range from a 1 line sentence in a quote to a document running to over 100 pages. The long contract can intimidate the customer, but the short contract can provide the customer with no protection whatsoever.


Building contracts are all about risk. Who takes the risk that the weather will delay the project or that an ancient artifact is found which means that work has to halt? The longer contracts try to cover every possible eventuality because, whilst most of the circumstances will never arise. the problems could and have arisen in the past.

Length of Contract

To a degree, the bigger the project the greater the need for a lengthy contract. However, that can be little solace and provide limited solutions when you receive a £2,000 bill for changing a tap washer.

What are Contracts made up of?

Contracts are made up of express and implied terms. Express means it is actually written down. Implied means that it was not included, but the law will infer it.

How can Routh Clarke help you?

If you would like someone to look over your building contract before you sign it, or even once the project is underway and you can see problems arising, then we can usually provide a fixed fee advice.

We can help. Call us on 01935 823883