Mitigation of risk and costs in a construction project are always priorities for owners. In some contracts, in particular, Guaranteed Maximum Price contracts, some of those monetary risks are shifted to the contractor. Contingency is important because it allows for money to be in the budget for the unexpected and to keep the project moving, which benefits everyone.
WHAT IS CONTINGENCY?
Contingency is an amount of money built into the contractor’s price to complete the project to address unforeseen (although sometimes very common) costs that arise. This sum of money is generally referred to as the contractor’s contingency. The amount of the contingency is a balance struck between having money on hand to address the unexpected while also not unnecessarily tying up money that could otherwise be used for the project. Contingency is typically 5-10% of the hard costs. However, how the money is actually allocated during the project is not always well thought out, which can be the source of problems during the project.
The contractor’s contingency is not to be confused with an owner’s contingency (or reserve) which is outside of the contractor’s budget and generally used for owner driven changes to the project, such as changes to scope, design and schedule.
Reprinted courtesy of Laurie A. Stanziale, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.