This year the JCT caused quite a stir when it decided to revamp its entire suite of contracts (see Building, 24 June), but it’s the changes to the design contracts – Design and Build Contract and the Intermediate Contract with Design – that have created most interest.

Two other additions are often overlooked: the Minor Works with Design for smaller schemes and its big brother the Major Projects Construction Contract, which is aimed at the experienced user undertaking large projects.

So, how do the four family members compare?

The chart shown here sets out a useful comparison of key terms, which should help you assess which contract best suits your project’s needs. Even if you are familiar with the earlier JCT forms, it’s worth taking the time to review the new ones. You may find that the contract that you used to choose as a matter of course can be replaced with another that is better suited or can be more easily adapted to your business needs.

Tip: Check the contract particulars

Possibly the greatest single change in the JCT contracts is the replacement of the old appendix with more extensive contract particulars at the front of each form. Care is needed in completion to ensure that any optional provisions apply in the way you want.

There is no quick fix to completion. Read the small print and the published guides. Take care to see that each entry is completed correctly or, if not required, clearly marked accordingly. Perhaps identify an individual with authority to “sign off” contract particulars within your organisation. Take care that there is no discrepancy between the contract particulars and any information concerning them in underlying contract documents as this may cause confusion.