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Understand construction contracts and how to write them.

Discover how to create electronic construction contracts and contractor agreements and how to use them to ensure construction projects run smoothly.

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A close-up photo of a person's arms resting on a blueprint on a table. One hand is holding a pencil and the other hand a smartphone.

Create construction contracts with electronic signature fields.

  • A construction contract formalizes the work agreement between a contractor and client.
  • Contracts should include a description of the job, payment methods, and conditions for termination.
  • You can use Adobe Acrobat Sign to create a contract and gather signatures electronically.

What is a construction contract and who needs one?

A construction contract, sometimes referred to as a contractor agreement, is a legal contract created between a contractor providing construction services and the owner of the project. The contract could be between a homeowner, business owner, or a construction management company in charge of new construction work and the general contractor who is responsible for planning and carrying out the project. Or it could be between a general contractor and an independent contractor or subcontractor.

Whether it’s a simple home improvement contract or an enterprise-level business contract, this type of document is crucial in the construction industry and outlines all the details of the project to avoid conflict and confusion. It should make everything about the project clear, including pricing, payment terms, timeline, consequences for breach of contract, any necessary subcontracts, logistics for carrying out the work, and other important information.

An example of a construction contract document on a laptop. At the bottom of the contract is a space to sign electronically using Adobe Acrobat Sign. An example e-signature is shown.

How to make a construction contract template with Acrobat Sign.

You can streamline the contract-writing process by going digital. With Acrobat Sign, you can make a construction contract template to edit and reuse for different clients and projects.

1. Sign into Acrobat on the web.

2. Click Sign › Create a Template.

3. Name your template and upload a file to start from.

4. Click Preview & Add Fields.

5. Drag fillable fields onto your document.

6. Click Save.

Do all this and more with Acrobat Pro:

  • Easily send contracts for e-signature. Learn how
  • Fill out and sign contracts anywhere. Learn how
  • Set automatic reminders for signatures. Learn how
A photo of two people looking at a tablet while standing inside a room at a construction site.

What are the different types of construction contract agreements?

There are five common types of construction contracts. Choose one based on the type of job and what works for both parties.

  • Time and materials (T&M) contracts:
    If the scope of work is unclear, you may want to opt for a T&M contract, which outlines a daily or hourly pay rate for contractors and reimbursement for material costs.
  • Cost-reimbursement contracts:
    Also known as cost-plus contracts, this type of contract establishes that the contractor will be reimbursed for the costs they incur for the project in addition to an agreed-upon lump sum of money, often calculated as a percentage of the project costs.
  • Unit price contracts:
    Also known as measurement contracts or measure-and-pay contracts, these documents divide the project into separate tasks and specify a price estimate for each task.
  • Guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contracts:
    These are similar to T&M contracts, except that a cap is set for the total cost for the project or property owner. Should the actual cost of material or labor exceed the maximum amount, the difference is absorbed by the contractor.

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What should I include in a construction contract template?

The most important aspects of a construction contract are that it contains a clear description of the construction process about to happen, that it outlines general conditions for contract termination, and that it describes all financial terms in an unambiguous manner.

Common elements to check for in sample construction contracts.

Consult with a legal professional knowledgeable on applicable laws to see which items you should include in your contract and review construction contract samples online. They may consist of the following:

1. Name and contact information of the project owner

2. Name and contact information of the contractor

3. Legal description of the property being worked on

4. Detailed description of the work to be completed

5. Completion date and date of final payment

6. Terms for contract termination by either party

7. Consequences of breach of contract by either party

8. Terms for unforeseen accidents or “acts of God”

9. Change orders or a policy for adjusting the contract

10. Hold harmless clause outlining details of warranties, liability, and indemnification

11. Required licenses, permits, and insurance

12. Terms for access to the property and other necessary logistics

13. Total contract price or terms for calculating construction cost and payment terms

14. Right to withhold payment by the contract owner

15. Terms for the condition of the property and disposal of items upon completion

16. Signatures and date of signatures from both parties

A photo of two contractors inside a room at a construction site. One of them is signing a contract electronically on a smartphone.

When to use a construction contract.

Use a construction contract anytime you hire someone to conduct a construction job or anytime you’re hired by someone else to do construction work. Even when you work with friends or family, it’s a good idea to create a contract to make sure everyone gets a fair deal and is aligned on what the work will entail. Should there be any disagreements later that require arbitration, having a contract will be critical for dispute resolution.

No matter what you need to build, starting with a digital construction contract in Acrobat Sign gives your project a firm foundation.