Practical Completion – How Is It Defined & When Does It Occur?

So What Constitutes ‘Practical Completion’?

The answer really depends upon the form of contract under which the works are being delivered. However, the general understanding across the industry is that Practical Completion (or ‘PC’ as it is also known) marks the end of the Substantive Works and the commencement of the defects liability period.

Whilst the term is recognised by most construction industry professionals, few truly understand the meaning that sits behind it.

Certain contracts including the NEC provide clarity as to when ‘Completion’ is deemed to have occurred and is prescriptive in terms of the ‘Take Over’ process.

Not all contracts however, make sufficient provision and that is when problems can arise…

The Case

The recent case of the University of Warwick v Balfour Beatty Group [2018] EWHC 3230 (TCC) gives a guide as to how the court can consider issues which may arise.

The contract between the parties was an amended form of the JCT 2011 Design and Build (the “Contract”) for design and construction works of the National Automotive Innovation Centre within the UOW’s campus (the Claimant).

The contract made provision for Practical Completion which was defined as “[…] a state of completeness […] which allows the Property to be occupied or used […]”. Further provision was made for “Property” which was defined as “the property comprised of the completed Works”.

So What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The Works comprised of four sections, all of which had a possession date of the 20th April 2015 and the Date for Completion was 10th April 2017 for sections 1 to 3 and 5th July 2017 for section 4.

It was the position of the Defendant that due to the definition contained within the contract “[…] a state of completeness […] which allows the Property to be occupied or used […]”, Practical Completion could not occur until all sections had been completed, as it was at that point the Property could be occupied. The Defendant therefore argued it was not possible to achieve Practical Completion of the sections prior to Practical Completion of the whole of the works.

The Court disagreed. Mckenna J. held that it was necessary to apply common sense to the Contract and as such, the Practical Completion requirements related to the specific section under construction and did not relate to the whole of the Works.

In addition, the Court further set out the Contract made specific provision for the requirements of sectional completion throughout and as such, it was necessary to apply business common sense.

So What Lesson Should We take?

We take two key lessons from this particular case, the first is in respect of drafting clauses which relate to Practical Completion.

Lesson One:

It is key to ensure there is no ambiguity as to the completion of the works and ensure no elements of the wording are ‘open to interpretation’, especially where the Works are to be delivered in sections.

Lesson Two:

The second lesson is to make sure Practical Completion is defined within the Contract to ensure there is no question by the parties as to when this has been achieved.

For further support or guidance in relation to Practical Completion, Delays or any other Construction Contract issue or dispute, please contact our team of experts on or 0115 9336131.

#practicalcompletion #constructioncontracts #constructiondisputes #constructionlaw #quantitysurveying

How to Ensure You Make a Loss in the Construction Industry (In Six Very Easy Steps)…

As most Contractors are aware, the construction industry is a challenging market sector in which it really is quite simple to lose money.

With the collapse of Carillion and harsh market conditions in 2018, 780 companies fell into insolvency in the first quarter alone [1].

In a bid to provide certainty, in this blog we wanted to set out six key steps for you to follow to ensure failure within the industry.

Step One – Do Not Compile a Cost Plan
A robust cost plan is one of the key building blocks to facilitate the successful delivery of a construction project.

Following a cost appraisal, a cost plan is compiled by the quantity surveyor or cost consultant to set out the construction costs of the project.

The cost plan is a live document and will develop in detail and accuracy over the lifecycle of the project.

If you want to ensure the project runs over budget, potentially to the point whereby it can’t be completed due to lack of funds, ensure you don’t create a cost plan.

Step Two – Do Not Review Construction Contracts or Negotiate the Terms
Not reviewing the construction contract (i.e. sign it, put it in the draw and hope for the best) is a sure-fire way to find yourself in dispute with the client.

By blindly signing on the dotted line; main contract terms (which you haven’t even seen) become binding, Liquidated Ascertained Damage levels (you may not be able to afford) may be levied against you and risk conditions which you wouldn’t have accepted (in a million years) if you had known, are carried by you.

Further, having negated to review the contract; you don’t need to negotiate the terms. After all, for a project to be successful; the terms of the contract should reflect the tender offering and the subsequent acceptance of that offering.

So, if you want to fail in contracting; ensure you do not have a quantity surveyor review the contract document to ensure the terms reflect your intended offering. Just proceed on the basis of the contract proposed by the client.

After all, it’ll save you a couple of hundred pounds if you don’t have it reviewed. It’s worth it, right?

Step Three – Do Not Compare Tenders. Accept the First Price
Another good way to ensure losses within the construction industry is to not test the market when procuring materials or services. Do not obtain a minimum of the three comparative quotations/tenders to ensure value, just accept the first price received.

Furthermore, ensure a quantity surveyor does not assess the quotations to confirm they are comparable in terms of inclusion and presentation`.

This will ensure the best price is not obtained and will guarantee you do not receive the best value.

Step Four – Ensure you accept verbal instructions (no written instruction required…)
“The site manager said just get on with it and they’ll sort the paperwork later… he’s a good guy, it’ll be fine”, sound familiar?

To ensure you don’t receive payment for variations, act on verbal instructions without obtaining written confirmation as set out within the contract (remember the contract you didn’t read in step two?).

This will ensure any work you deliver outside of the scope of the works is carried out at your own cost.

Step Five – Pay No Attention To the Construction Programme (Just Keep One Eye On The End Date).
If you want to pave the way to an unsuccessful project conclusion, ensure you pay no attention to the construction programme.

Pay no attention to key dates or activity sequence.
Keep an eye on the completion date and if you miss it, wait to see what happens (hopefully nothing).

Step Six – Do Not Employ a Professional Quantity Surveyor
Professional Quantity Surveyors provide a multitude of support services (see our previous blog (here) including:

– Monitoring Budget & Forecast
– Preparation of Applications / Valuations / Payment Certificates
– Assess and Measure Works Delivered and Variations
– Administer Programme Amendments
– Control Cost
– Maintain Ongoing Value Engineering
– Provide Project Management
– Manage Disputes
– Advice on Contractual Disputes

The steps outlined above are just a few of the ways in which a construction contractor can ensure they deliver a construction project over budget, potentially over programme and at a loss.

Alternatively, where you wish to ensure the successful delivery of projects within the industry, ensure you DO NOT follow these steps.

Should you require support in any of the areas listed, contact us at or call on 0115 9336131.

[1] The Guardian Online report. Monday 1st October 2018.

Who are you contracting with?

Contracting Parties – Who are you contracting with? – Are you sure? (Read on…)

The Scenario:

The parties are engaged and the project is going well until unexpected ground conditions pose a risk to the design.

Consequently; an independent third-party designer is engaged and contracted to provide a solution.

Sounds straightforward right?


Introducing the recent case:

Williams Tarr Construction Limited v Anthony Roylance Limited and Anthony Roylance [2018] EWHC 23

The Project: A Housing Development in Cheshire
The Main Contractor: Williams Tarr Construction Limited (WTC)
The Designer: Anthony Roylance Limited OR Anthony Roylance (And here lies the problem)

So who were the contracting parties?

WTC believed they had engaged Mr. Roylance in his capacity as an individual.

Mr. Roylance maintained WTC had contracted with his limited company Anthony Roylance Ltd.

And the Scope?

WTC set out Mr. Roylance had been contracted to design a solution to overcome the problems with the wall so that the wall would ultimately be fit for purpose.

Mr. Roylance stated the engagement had been limited to the scope of a design for the drain for the wall and maintained he had not designed the wall nor did the company carry the obligation to ensure the wall was fit for the purpose intended.


The courts considered the relevant correspondence between the parties in a bid to establish the parties to the contract, the basis of engagement and the scope of the parties.

The documents were found to be unclear which introduced further complexities with WTC producing alleged “design documents” which had been produced by Mr. Roylance with Mr. Roylance stating these were “as-built” drawings for record purposes.

WTC went on to state in the most part, the documents were that of Mr. Roylance acting in his capacity as individual as he did not use company headed paper which documented his limited company.

Mr. Roylance presented that the payments were processed through the limited company and the contractual draft collateral warranty produced by WTC made clear reference to the registration number of Anthony Roylance Ltd.

The key lesson from this case is to ensure the contracting parties and the scope of works is clearly defined within the contract to avoid confusion should a dispute arise.