The Australian Building Industry Contracts (ABIC) are jointly published by Master Builders Australia Ltd (Master Builders) and the Australian Institute of Architects (Institute). They are intended for use in building projects where an architect administers the contract.
ABIC contracts are designed to make contract administration clear and less prone to dispute or time-consuming negotiation. Promptly resolving claims and other issues that arise under building contracts at the time that they arise is an effective way of avoiding disputes on construction projects. ABIC contracts bring certainty to the process, requiring timely presentation and resolution of claims. They have been extensively refined and field-tested and feature:
- plain English and a clear, logical structure that reflects the sequence of the construction process;
- equitable allocation of virtually all project risks to one party or the other, eliminating uncertainty and many potential disputes;
- an integrated suite of versions for major, simple and basic works, and for housing and non-housing projects, and
- inclusion of a number of detailed supporting documents, including a user guide and pro forma notices and certificates for the architect and the contractor.
Which contract to use?
Selecting the right building contract can be critical to the success of a project.
The contract should be selected to suit each individual project, taking account of its complexity, value and any specific project issues or requirements. A contract selected simply because the parties are familiar with its provisions or are comfortable using it, won’t overcome the inherent difficulties that can arise if the contract is inappropriate for the project.
Differences between SW and the MW contract
The MW contract is the most comprehensive contract in the ABIC suite of building contracts. The SW contract is intended for simpler projects than MW. Although the differences are numerous, notable differences are that SW does not provide for the following:
- urgent instructions
- separable parts to the works
- change of type of security given by the contractor to the owner
- provision of security for payments for off-site plant and materials
- provision by the owner of security to the contractor
- dangerous or contaminated materials
- quality assurance systems
- separate contractors
- identified, project specific potential causes of delay that entitle the contractor to costs
- owner initiated amendments to programs and the consequences of any amendments
- arbitration or expert determination of disputes as alternatives for dispute resolution
ABIC Principal contracts can be purchased from the Australian Institute of Architects.
ABIC subcontracts can be purchased from Master Builders Australia.
ABIC Principal contracts and subcontracts are also available from your local Master Builders Association.