Building contract

Small works: client version
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Document overview

This contract is for a client, not the contractor, on a small residential building project such as a house extension.

It takes some of the risk out of using an unknown firm or counter party, by allowing you to define the work to be done and making sure that it is performed to the standards you require.

It makes clear that the contractor is independent and self employed at all times, and covers the use of sub-contractors, confidentiality and many other smaller matters that may arise from time to time.

Compliant with the latest law in
  • England & Wales
  • Scotland
Document propertied
Document properties
  • Length:10 pages (2925 words)
  • Available in:
    MsWordMicrosoft Word DOCXApple pagesApple PagesRTFRTF
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writing in plain english
Written in plain English

We avoid legal terminology unless necessary. Plain English makes our documents easy to understand, easy to edit and more likely to be accepted.

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About this domestic building contract

Starting a building project without having a building contract in place leaves both homeowners and builders at risk.

An agreement (with its schedule of work) gives clarity to both sides as to the scope, the cost, how and when payments will be made, timings, responsibility for obtaining necessary consents and approvals (such as planning permission and building control approval), and whether the work is covered by insurance policies.

No construction contract can remove all the stresses of managing a project, but using a well written contract makes clear the expectations and required work, and reduces the chances that the work performed is not up to standard, unfinished or not as agreed.

A contract for the client

This contract favours the customer rather than the contractor. It is suitable for all types of non-commercial building work, including conversions, renovations (such as room layout changes and kitchen or bathroom fittings), extensions, maintenance and new buildings.

Many homeowners want the builders to start and finish as soon as possible and with minimal oversight of the project. That is likely to more achievable if the terms under which the work will be done are clear and the specification for the work is precise.

Through the specification of work, this domestic building contract allows you to break the project into clear stages and provides an effective way of controlling costs, managing payments and ensuring timely completion.

Examples of when this agreement might be used

This agreement should be used for small projects that are undertaken by a single contractor. That person or fim may in turn employ several other people or subcontract specialist work.

Small works typically are overseen by the client with one building contractor carrying out the work. The project value may run from a few thousand pounds to several tens of thousands of pounds.

  • fitting a new kitchen or bathroom
  • building an extension or outbuilding
  • converting a garage
  • installing a damp proof course
  • insulating a loft
  • knocking through party walls to create open rooms

Using this agreement

Like all Net Lawman documents, this template is written in plain English and has accompanying guidance notes explaining how to edit it.

The document is structured so that the legal agreement is separate to the specification of work, which is in a schedule at the back. That makes the work to be done much clearer. It also allows you to use the contract multiple times with the same contractor, updating the schedule each time.

We intend that you write the specification youself. Doing so does not require technical knowledge, either of the law or of building terms. You should be precise and detailed so that you get exactly what you want, but write in plain English so that your contractor understands your wishes, and perhaps has some flexibility in how to achieve the best outcome for you.

If you are not confident to write the specification and if the contract value merits it, we advise that you use a quantity surveyor for this work. You can still set the rest of the contract terms yourself.

Applicable law to this contract

This contract is compliant with the requirements of the Consumer Contracts Regulations

This document is for work to residential buildings only. It does not comply with the HGCRA 1996 (the Construction Act 96) as amended by the LDEDCA, 2009 and governed by the Scheme for Construction Contracts, and therefore is not suitable for work to commercial properties, or large or grant aided projects.

Alternative documents

If you are the builder, then you should use this building contract, which contains terms more favourable to you.


  • Definitions of special terms
  • Interpretation: explaining the agreement
  • Contractor warranties
  • Work assignments: specifications and organisation
  • Contractor’s obligations
  • Contractor’s fees and expenses, including options to pay a flat fee or costs-plus
  • Use of sub-contractors
  • Confidentiality
  • Start and completion dates
  • Termination
  • Contractor’s indemnity
  • Contractor’s other work
  • No assignment
  • Uncontrollable events
  • Miscellaneous legal matters
Sample building contractSample page from the small works contract

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Recent reviews

Tailored Success
11 September 2023
I wasn't sure where to start in putting together a contract for some building work. Really impressed with Net Lawman. It was clear which contract template was right for me. The template was easy to adapt in Word. Happy I paid for the review service too. Shama Aijazz quickly answered my questions and edited the contract to suit my needs. Would definitely recommend to a friend.
Russell Wright
Adaptable Use
27 June 2023
It was a simple and easy to use template which has the ability to cover multiple different "jobs" carried out by a smaller independent contractor.
Sanjeev Patel
Time Saved
22 March 2022
Easy to use template which covered all the essentials required. Good guidance on the terms and implications. Easy to amend for my project specifics. Would recommend.
Nichola Cook
Read all 10 reviews

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