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Unforeseen Site Conditions - Should the Contractor Expect the Worst and Hope for the Best?

Johan Byers

In civil engineering works the assessment by the contractor at tender stage of the ground conditions that are likely to be encountered during the works constitutes a baseline assumption for the purposes of its bid price.  Where conditions turn out to be different from what was expected at tender stage, the impact on project duration and cost may be significant.
In order to provide for this risk, many standard form civil engineering contracts burden the employer with the time and cost consequences where the encountered site conditions are different from those which an experienced contractor should have foreseen at tender stage.

This paper considers how the notional “experienced contractor”, against whom a contractor’s tender expectations are measured, is expected to assess information provided by the employer during the bidding stage.