Negotiating Subcontractor Agreements

By AIA Contract Documents

November 8, 2023

This article provides important topics for parties to consider when negotiating subcontractor agreements.

  1. Clearly Define Scope and Expectations. The foundation of any subcontractor agreement is a clear definition of the scope of work and expectations. It is essential to outline what the subcontractor will deliver, including specific tasks, milestones, timelines, and quality standards.
  2. Legal Review and Compliance. Standardized forms provide the parties a neutral place to start the contracting process. However, engaging legal counsel to review the subcontractor agreement will ensure that the document complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Different industries and regions may have specific legal requirements, so it is important to have experts who can identify and address them.
  3. Payment Terms and Conditions. Clearly stipulate payment terms, including downpayments, rates, billing cycles, methods of payment, unit pricing for additional quantities, and hourly rates for additional labor. Having these details in writing reduces misunderstandings and disputes.
  4. Indemnification. Incorporate indemnification clauses in the agreement to specify which party is responsible for losses or liabilities arising from specific circumstances.
  5. Communication and Reporting Requirements. Establish communication and reporting protocols, detailing how the subcontractor should update the main contractor on project progress, issues, and potential delays. Effective communication is the crucial to developing and maintaining successful subcontracting relationships.

Carefully considering and addressing important aspects of the subcontract before the project begins sets a strong foundation for a successful partnership. Subcontracts can help ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding project expectations, responsibilities, and legal requirements, reducing the likelihood of disputes. Whether you are a subcontractor or a contractor, negotiating a well-structured subcontractor agreement is key to achieving your project goals and building strong, lasting business relationships.

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AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.