RIBA Building Contracts 2014 & 2018 – What’s the Difference?

In November 2014 the RIBA Building Contracts 2014 were launched, consisting of:

  1. The Domestic Building Contract (“DBC”); and
  2. The Concise Building Contract (“CBC”).

Both contracts were specifically designed and drafted for use in small to medium scale construction projects with the DBC’s intended use being for domestic projects (i.e. works to a home including extensions, maintenance, renovations or new buildings) for consumers and the CBC being for use on all types of simple commercial building work for use in a “business to business” relationship.

The overarching intention of the RIBA Building Contracts 2014 was to provide an accessible, easy to use contract that was written in “plain English” that balanced the risk fairly between the parties to the contract.

Following industry feedback and changes in the law, the RIBA has revised and updated the contracts and released the RIBA Building Contracts 2018.

So what’s different and/or new?

  1. The contracts have been updated to comply with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (DBC only) and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015;
  2. The strict deadlines for the Contractor’s right to claim relief under the Contracts have been removed presumably because they were unacceptable to most building contractors particularly those who are professionally advised;
  3. The RIBA have improved their guidance notes on insurance and dispute resolution to help make the contracts easier to understand and use;
  4. The “Contract Price and Payments” clause (clause 7) has been amended with the effect that the provisions comply with the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended) in the DBC and CBC even though the Act excludes “residential occupiers” (as most users of the DBC will be). This brings consistency to the contracts.
  5. The provisions surrounding regulatory and statutory consents, fees and charges now give the parties the option to set out who is to be responsible for obtaining and paying for them;
  6. The Contract Details – the front end of the Contracts where the parties details, etc. are inserted – have been simplified so that there is greater consistency across the contracts;
  7. The optional provisions relating to the Programme have been simplified;
  8. The Contractor Design option has been amended to allow a level of professional indemnity to be specified; and
  9. The Contracts now include a “Contract Checklist” to help with ease of use and to ensure that the parties to the contract are fully aware of what they are agreeing to when entering the contract.

The revised RIBA Building Contracts 2018 are welcome additions to the wide range of standard form construction contracts currently available. They are simple and easy to use with the guidance provided and offer greater provisions for flexible payment, sectional completion, contractor design and required specialists which are not often seen in other contracts at the lower-end of the market.

The degree to which the industry adopts and uses these contracts remains to be seen, however given the right project circumstances they may be appropriate for some small to medium scale projects.

For more advice on construction and engineering contracts please contact Andrew Noble on (0191) 226 7910 or andrew.noble@sintons.co.uk.

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