When you review a construction contract, are you also reviewing the description of the Work that you’ll be doing?  I mean, are you really looking at that section to make sure that it accurately describes what you will be doing, and perhaps more importantly, it identifies Work that you will not be doing?  I recommend that you spend a few extra minutes with your contracts to make sure the Work is clearly defined.

I was reviewing a contract this week and saw the description of the Work defined as:

Everything necessary to complete all Electrical work where and as indicated in the drawings and in accordance with, but not by way of limitation, section 2600 Electrical of the specifications.

The Work seems to be well defined as covering section 2600 Electrical of the specifications, but the phrase “but not by way of limitation” caught my eye.  What does that mean?  Does that mean that the reference to a certain section of the plans is not the extent of the work and that the electrician is responsible for more work? Does it mean that the electrician is responsible for code compliance in case the plans are not accurate?

The exact meaning of that phrase “but not by way of limitation” is certainly not clear.  It may create an ambiguity in the contract, which would allow the construction attorneys to argue about its meaning should a dispute arise.

This is one of those situations where you would be well advised to ask what that phrase means and what is the extent of the work.  Although the language seems clear that the work should only cover section 2600 of the plans, maybe you should take a few minutes to ask before you sign the contract.  We also recommend that you have an experienced construction attorney review all of your contracts.  This could save you a lot of time, and maybe money with your construction attorney, by asking a few simple questions before you agree to do the Work.