REALWorld Law



How are variations to the specification for engineering or construction works normally dealt with?



The scope of works and services to be provided by the contractor depends on the specifications (Leistungsverzeichnis) which usually give all necessary information.

In principle variations can be made in the scope of the performance set out in the specifications at any time. Agreements on supplementary performance or variations or follow-up orders (Nachträge) are of great practical importance. However, subsequent modifications to the scope of performance or to other circumstances may lead to a change in the contractor’s right to remuneration. Under the contracting rules for the Construction Contract Procedures Part B (VOB/B) the following five reasons may result in a contractor being entitled to demand additional remuneration:

  1. Change orders by the principal that is now also expressly regulated in Sec. 650b German Civil Code
  2. Additional work subsequently requested by the principal
  3. Work which deviates from the contractually agreed specifications and which the contractor performs without any instructions from the principal if the principal subsequently approves the work or if the work was necessary to perform the contract
  4. Changes in the quantity of work of more than 10 percent in a unit price contract if either of the contracting parties demands this
  5. Hindrance and disruption of the progress of the works caused by the principal

In view of such potential additional claims, variations should be kept to a minimum by means of careful planning in advance.