Projects

Documents : “By Separate Contractor”…What does this mean?

Tendering is hard enough : deadlines – closing times – addendum – quotes coming in late – documentation overload – but it doesn’t help when you find this note on the documents:

“By Separate Contractor”

These three words appear often, and I prefer they didn’t – Why? This is most confusing for the Estimator when tendering – after all, they don’t want to win a project just because they’ve made a mistake with their price (and you don’t want them winning it this way too).

‘By Separate Contractor’ gets the estimator thinking:

  • Whose Separate Contractor is it? Ours? Or theirs?
  • Is the Builder or one of the Sub-Contractors to include it in, or to exclude it from, their price?
  • Or does the Consultant Engineer (whose drawings it may be on) mean it’s not on these particular drawings, and I should look elsewhere in the Tender Set, and that it is by the Builder and therefore in my price?… Or maybe it’s by the client and therefore not in my price…!  All these questions are giving me a headache, and the tender is due in three days, and the sub-contractors are responding “Too hard, way too hard!”…

Remember! The Contract documents are given to the Builder for a Contract with the Builder and not a contract with the sub-contractors. And so, we don’t want items excluded by accident when they really should be included.

For example: The mechanical engineer’s drawings might say “By Separate Contractor” in reference to some core-holes in slabs, or a steel plant platform … and even though it may not be built by the mechanical sub-contractor, it is to be built by the Builder, and so it is not really part of a Separate Contract.

And so, if the item IS to be included by the Builder, then I don’t like these words appearing on the documents at all – after all, who are we (or you) to define which sub-contractor should do what? That is the Builder’s, or Main Contractor’s, job isn’t it? The Builder might, or might not, have all or some sub-contractors on wages – so are they really the SUB-contractors, or not?

It is always worth thoroughly checking the tender documents to make sure they are clear and not open to misinterpretation – which may lead to costly variations and possible delays.

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