Protective Measures – Terms & Conditions

Whilst there are several types of ‘pre-printed’ or standard forms of Terms and Conditions available, including JCLI Contracts which are generally used for projects in the region of £100,000 plus, and The Association of Professional Landscapers offer their members another excellent document, so many domestic contractors seem reluctant to ask their customers to sign a written contract. Surely the name ‘contractor’ implies that one should work under a ‘contract’? I do not mean to sound offensive, but in my work as a Consultant, more often than not I find myself dealing with the aftermath of a scheme that has gone awry precisely because there was nothing in writing – no formal contract – even on jobs of £10,000 plus.

It should be a simple matter of normality – once the price, specification and start dates etc have been agreed verbally, to put all that information into a written document, to be signed by both parties – including payments – mobilisation, interim and final, as a standard fact of working life. After all, every other ‘tradesman’ uses some form of documentation, and it is fully expected that they work to a ‘system’. Certainly, all jobs over the value of (say) £2,000 should be in writing, and subject to Standard Terms & Condition. (Full T & C’s are included in The Landscapers Survival Manual)

These MUST include the name of the client or clients if there are more than one. Mr AND Mrs, Mr AND Miss, Mr AND Mr, or whatever form of title they give you at the time. Please be aware that unless you identify and name all parties, any one of them may refuse to make payment as they have not agreed to something which you may have done. (Very often, the husband denying that he agreed to something his wife has asked for!)

You must also identify the site address, although that may be perfectly obvious to you or any reasonable person, but unless it is included in the Terms & Conditions, any misunderstandings are difficult to resolve. The contract must be dated at the time of production, and also the date of signing.

Mobilisation payments must be agreed in the contract, either as a percentage of the total, or as you see fit. Be aware too, that any item to be ordered specifically for a project, that may not be used on another site (stone steps cut to size for example) must be paid for in full at the time of order. This is very important, as the cost may exceed the percentage of the total, meaning the whole of the mobilisation payment has been used on a ‘non-returnable’ or ‘useless to you’ part of the project.

Ensure that Interim Payments are clearly defined, either as Stage Payments or Time Related. Upon completion, the Final Invoice should be raised under the title of Practical Substantial Completion, as very few landscape projects may be called ‘complete’ unless every bulb is in full bloom, and the lawn turf knitted.

Finally, ensure that your Terms and Conditions include words to the effect that you cannot be held responsible for any costs greater than the sum total of the project. This is to protect you against any future claim/s that may be made against you, including betterment.