What are Omissions in Construction Contracts

Omissions in Construction Contracts

Do you know what are omissions in construction contracts? In this article I want to share some basic details relevant to omissions which can be helpful for your project.

Variation order is generally issued for both additions and omissions from the contract’s work scope. However most of the time, the contractors or engineers work on behalf of the contractors do not have a proper idea on contractual grounds related to omissions in construction contracts.

Therefore in this post I want to discuss more on errors and omissions in construction contracts which make grounds for variations.

For easy reading and understanding of the term ‘Omissions to the construction contract’, below I try to share the details under sub topics which are mostly discussed during any project execution.

Let’s discuss!

What are omissions?

In practice, a variation to the contract can be in a way of addition or omission. Omission of contract simply means removal of part of the work from the original scope of work. Usually in such situations, the cost of removed work scope is deducted from the original contract value.

Therefore as a contractor, you will see reduced final project sum than the original agreed sum due to such omissions.

However if there are additions to the contract, the final sum will vary again. Overall, omissions are also referred to as variations to the construction contract.

Omissions in Construction Contracts

Reasons for omissions in construction contracts

Basically omissions are due to errors and mistakes in design. This can also occur due to mind change of the Employer. Wrong decision making regarding the design concept during the design stage can also make grounds to omissions during the construction stage.

For example, if the employer initially wanted a design of a building which include built in furniture supplied by the contractor, however later he decided to not to do that, this can create an omission to the contract. But there are also limitations provided in the standard conditions of construction contracts regarding the omissions. This is to protect the contractor from his loss of profit due to omissions while delivering the project.

Are Omissions and Abortive work are the same?

Sometimes contractors are confused with abortive work and omissions.

Note that omissions and abortive work are two different things. While there are many reasons for abortive work,if the abortive work is due to the scope changes then the contractor can claim the cost for the work as an addition to the contract.You have to consider the effects of any abortive work according to the contract and nature of the work.

Further an omission to be valid, Architect or Contract Administrator should issue instructions in writing.

What is a genuine omission?

As discussed above omissions are variations to the contract which creates a negative value for the contract sum.Therefore contractual situation under omissions are mentioned under the variation clause.

Usually the variation clause of standard conditions of contracts allow for omissions. But there are also limits on power to issue variation order .

An omission must be genuine.

Then, what is a genuine omission?

If the work omitted from the contract is with intention of assigning a third party to undertake the same work, then this omission is invalid.

Employer or Architect cannot decide in omissions with such intention in order to employ another contractor to do the same scope of work for a lower cost with intention of saving money from the project cost.

If the omission to the contract is not genuine, then it makes grounds to disputes.

How to do Valuation of omissions?

Valuation of omitted work will be done under the same methods mentioned under valuation of variations.

Read this post on variations in construction contracts for better understanding on how to properly calculate the omission amount.

Consider this situation.

When the rates in BOQ are used to value the omission and if the similar item in the BOQ is with obvious error in pricing, what you can do?

Such obvious error which is accidentally made by the contractor in his tender submission may result in excessive price or inadequate price to the omission amount.

For example, we all know that there are human errors when inking the tender document. Instead of rate $100.00, the QS may have written $10.00 forgetting a zero. But this difference can make an impact to the price if such rates are used for valuation of a variation.

Please note, there is also a stage in tender procedure to correct the errors in bidding document.

In such situation, Quantity Surveyor or Contracts Engineer needs to apply fair and reasonable rates to calculate the omission amount.

Anyway, above is the usual practice. All the time, you need to refer your contract document to find out how omissions can be treated for your specific project.

Do you have experience with VO which are omissions?Please share the experiences below.

If you want any help in understanding your contract document or contractual clause, contact me.

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About Author

Amila Gamage

An experienced Contracts Engineer/ Trainer/ Quantity Surveyor with over 17 years of industry experience in both high rise buildings and civil engineering projects. She is the founder and contracts manager of Sihela Consultants.


  1. Dear Mrs. Amila,
    I am working as Quantity surveyor for the past 3 years. I would like to know the exercises or courses to get deep study in contract related Activities which comes under scope of a Qs.

  2. Dear Maam,
    If the Omission from the lumpsum contract? Does this not affect the total amount? Can the contractor accept this?

    1. Hi Mohamed,sorry I saw this comment now.Omission can be from Lumpsum contracts too.Yes,it will affect the total amount same as additions through extra work.However,omission should be genuine as explained in above article.

  3. Dear Ma’am,
    This is the scenario, the project has already been completed year 2018. The contractor already received the Certificate of Completion(Feb 2018) and Certificate of Final Inspection and Acceptance (June 2019). Final Billing was already paid to the contractor. Unfortunately, during Retention claim, the Employer kept the payment on-hold due to some deductive change orders that they want to deduct in the contract. Contractor do not want to accept anymore deductions since project is already completed and employer already accepted it as complete that’s why they released the CFIA and COC. Can the Contractor, declined this deductive change orders that employer is imposing? Thanks for your response.

  4. When doing omission of an item in a lumpsum contract, it shall be done based on BOQ quantities or IFC drawing quantities? Your guidance would be quite helpful.

  5. If contractor requires certain changes to the initial agreed quotation which supposedly results in variation order, and we are unable to provide the changes contractor demands without any changes in price and it was not following the initial contract agreed quotation. Is the contractor entitled to issue an omission to us?

  6. I am Danidu illangakoon i read this article on this morning and really impressed. This is great determination to omission of work and simple and comprehensive knowledge shearing in terms of descoping of works

    1. This depends on how you substantiate your claim and contract conditions. If the contract doesn’t provide claim situation,then ,it will be under common law…But,you have to substantiate it.

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