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A contract with a guaranteed maximum price (GMP Contracts in Construction) establishes the highest cost for a construction project, and any additional expenses beyond that limit are the responsibility of the contractor. Also known as a construction manager at risk contract, this form of construction agreement reduces financial risk for the owner by defining a maximum cost for the project. GMP contracts are commonly employed for larger and more intricate projects, allowing the owner to leverage the contractor’s input in the early stages of the process.

How Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP Contracts in Construction) Operate

A GMP Contracts in Construction is a formal agreement between a contractor and the project owner, establishing the highest allowable cost for the construction work on a project. Essentially, the contractor undertakes to complete the project without invoicing for an amount surpassing the maximum price specified in the contract. Any costs exceeding the agreed-upon GMP become the responsibility of the contractor, potentially impacting their profitability on the project.

For projects utilizing GMP Contracts in Construction, it is crucial to have a well-defined scope of work, encompassing detailed drawings, specifications, and site-specific information. Without a comprehensive and precise scope of work, contractors may face unexpected costs, thereby diminishing the profitability of the project.

GMP Contracts in Construction
GMP Contracts in Construction

What’s Encompassed in a GMP Contracts in Construction?

GMP contracts are typically established between a project owner and a general contractor, forming the prime contract relationship. Nevertheless, these agreements are also adopted by subcontractors and contractors, particularly on projects requiring specialized expertise in a specific trade.

To establish the maximum project price, general contractors follow these steps:

  1. Develop an initial cost estimate for the entire project.
  2. Solicit bids from preferred specialty contractors for specific sections of the work.
  3. Determine costs for any work that the general contractor will self-perform on the project, which may vary based on their specialty.
  4. Account for general conditions, contingency, allowances, overhead, and profit.
  5. Present the GMP to the owner and commence negotiations.

Negotiating GMP Contracts in Construction can be more challenging compared to cost-plus or time and materials contracts as the contractor assumes greater financial risk. GMP agreements are often employed in larger and more intricate projects that utilize project delivery methods such as design-build (DB) and construction-manager-at-risk (CMAR).

In design-build projects, the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the project may fluctuate as the design evolves with input from the contractor. Prior to commencing construction, a final GMP is established and documented in the construction contract.

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A GMP Contracts in Construction exemplifies an open book contract, wherein all the contractor’s costs are transparent to the client. This encompasses expenses for labor, materials, equipment, and other direct costs, as well as indirect costs like markup for overhead and profit. This contractual approach fosters the transparency necessary for project owners to reimburse costs and ensures that contractors are not inflating expenses to meet the maximum price.

Because GMP agreements and open book contracts hinge on a high level of trust, they are primarily employed in relationships between owners and contractors with an established history, effective communication, and a track record of long-term collaboration.

Should the project exceed the budget, the contractor is accountable for covering the additional costs. However, if the overage results from changes to the scope requested by the project owner, design developments beyond the scope of work, or unforeseen site conditions, the owner typically bears the responsibility for the additional expenses.

The contract delineates specific procedures and provisions for addressing cost overruns and scope changes, specifying the circumstances under which these become the contractor’s liability or the owner’s obligations. Termed change orders, these amendments to the original contract are legally binding and detail modifications to the project scope.

What's Encompassed in a GMP Contracts in Construction?
What’s Encompassed in a GMP Contracts in Construction?

Negotiated Provisions in a GMP Contract

The most straightforward form of Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) contract establishes a fixed maximum price for the contract, beyond which the contractor assumes all additional costs. However, there exists a range of adjustments that contractors and owners can incorporate. Here are several common types of GMP Contracts in Construction:

  1. Shared Savings: This contract type allows for any cost savings to be divided between the client and the contractor based on a pre-agreed percentage. This creates an incentive for the contractor to identify cost savings during the project, and for the owner to leverage the general contractor’s expertise and approach.
  2. Contingency: In this arrangement, a contingency amount is included in the GMP to cover unforeseen costs. If the contingency is not utilized, it can either be returned to the client or shared between the client and the contractor.
  3. Escalation Clause: This contract type accommodates potential increases in materials or labor costs throughout the project’s duration. It permits adjustments to the GMP based on defined conditions, such as changes in market conditions.
  4. Allowances: This contract sets a GMP Contracts in Construction but includes specific allowances for items with uncertain costs or materials that have not yet been specified or selected at the project’s outset. If these allowances are not fully utilized, the remaining funds can be returned to the client or shared.
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It’s crucial to note that contracts seldom neatly fit into these distinct categories. Project owners often utilize customized GMP Contracts in Construction tailored to specific projects, yet these contracts frequently incorporate clauses similar to those mentioned above to introduce incentives and adjustments for contractors.

Advantages of GMP Contracts in Construction

For Owners

For Contractors

Budget certainty

Greater control

The contractor manages the project within the agreed-upon budget, minimizing cost overruns.

The contractor oversees project costs and schedule, gaining greater control over the entire process.

Quality control

May include incentives

The contractor ensures the project meets the owner’s requirements and specifications.

Some GMP contracts incorporate performance incentives, like split sharing, encouraging lower costs by dividing project savings between the contractor and owner.

Reduced risk

Potentially higher fee

A GMP contract shifts risks associated with cost overruns and project delays to the contractor, providing greater protection against unexpected costs or delays.

Due to the inherent risk with GMP, contractors can often charge a higher fee, safeguarded by greater control over the project and costs.

Increased transparency

Minimize unexpected outcomes

Open-book accounting throughout the process allows owners to track true costs as the project unfolds.

Early involvement in the project enables the contractor to exert influence over the design and approach, minimizing unexpected outcomes.

Higher-quality end product

Opportunity to foster trust

GMP involves collaboration between the owner, architect, and contractor, fostering a holistic approach to decision-making and often resulting in a higher-quality project.

The transparency and strong relationship required for a successful GMP contract can help contractors build trust, laying the foundation for potential future partnerships.

GMP Contract Template

The A102, an exemplar GMP Contracts in Construction released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), serves as a widely used foundation for GMP construction agreements among many owners and contractors.

This template delineates crucial components of a GMP contract, including reimbursable costs and the contractor’s fee. It encompasses standard sections on payments, insurance and bond requirements, dispute resolution, contract termination, and more. While templates are beneficial starting points for crafting a GMP contract, they typically necessitate customization to align with the specific project requirements or a firm’s priorities.

Mitigating Risk in GMP Contracts in Construction

Mitigating Risk in GMP Contracts in Construction
Mitigating Risk in GMP Contracts in Construction

During the formation of GMP Contracts in Construction, owners and contractors can employ various strategies to minimize project risks, with the profitability of projects established in the contract formation phase.

To prevent potential future misunderstandings or disagreements, both parties should meticulously review and analyze all documents contributing to the scope of work. By identifying possible issues and evaluating their likelihood and potential impact, both parties can devise strategies to address these concerns within the contract.

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Careful review and negotiation of contract terms by both parties are essential to ensure fairness, reasonability, and clear delineation. The contract should also establish a well-defined change order process, specifying how changes to the project will be managed, including their impact on cost and schedule. Lastly, entering into GMP Contracts in Construction built on established relationships fosters an environment where all parties collaboratively approach the project with the goal of delivering the highest quality work.

A clearly defined GMP contract has the potential to yield profitability for both the general contractor and owner, even in the case of complex projects or those with uncertain conditions.

Asia Pacific Projects – Your Construction Management Partner

Asia Pacific Projects, where excellence meets construction management. As a dynamic company dedicated to delivering top-notch construction solutions, Asia Pacific Projects stands as a reliable partner for clients seeking expertise in the realm of construction projects.

Our commitment to providing comprehensive services extends to our proficiency in handling Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP Contracts in Construction). We understand the significance of navigating the complexities of construction agreements, and our team is well-versed in the intricacies outlined in resources such as the AIA’s sample GMP contract (A102). Leveraging industry standards and best practices, we ensure that GMP contracts are tailored to suit the unique requirements of each project, fostering transparency, risk mitigation, and project success.

At Asia Pacific Projects, our construction management services cover a broad spectrum, including essential elements outlined in the GMP contract template. Whether it’s reimbursable costs, contractor fees, payment structures, insurance and bond requirements, dispute resolution, or contract termination, our experienced team aligns with the highest industry standards to provide comprehensive and tailored solutions.

If you are seeking guidance on construction management or looking for insights into GMP Contracts in Construction, we invite you to explore our offerings at APPMVN Construction Management. Our commitment to excellence and proficiency in construction management ensures that your projects are in capable hands. Additionally, we stay informed about industry trends and resources, such as APPMVN’s insights on time and materials contracts, to continually enhance our service offerings and provide you with the best advice and solutions.


Please send information or requests that you need to consult for Asia Pacific Projects via:

NGUYEN THI HIEU | Local Relations

Mobile phone: +84 918 331 489

Email: hieu.nguyen@appmvn.com

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