For subcontractors, the signing of a contract may be the most nerve-wracking part of some projects. However, you soon may have help feeling more confident in this process. Currently, a group of construction associations, representing owners, design and construction professionals, and surety and insurance companies are working toward the development and promotion of standard construction contracts, including those between general contractors and subcontractors. The motive for these meetings is the idea that the industry is better served by balanced contracts that are actively supported by all parties.

“The electrical contractor is interested in fair payment terms and all requirements for the agreement that deal with owner financial information and notice requirements for changes in schedule,” says Daniel Walter, CEO of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., and president of the Associated Specialty Contractors (ASC), Bethesda, Md., one of the associations actively participating in the creation of the collaborative contracts. “We think these collaborative contracts have better terms than privately developed contracts where essentially a general contractor says, ‘I had my attorney write this up — take it or leave it.’”

The construction industry groups have been in discussions for a year-and-a-half regarding the content of the collaborative contracts and a business model to support this effort. The collaborative contract forms should be available on ASC's Web site at in early 2007.