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DR. ENGLISH: Contractors: Beware

from GBA

The good doctor now uses the word "contractor" only to describe a party that is under contract to do something for someone else. As such, as various federal, state, and local public entities make clear, "the contractor" often refers to the geoprofessional firm that has a contract to do something; e.g., perform a geotechnical-engineering exploration or an environmental assessment. Given that usage, applying "contractor" to describe a construction company of some type creates confusion, because it results in one word having two close — but entirely distinct — meanings. To prevent ambiguity and the risks it can create, consider using the term "construction contractor" or — better yet — the far simpler term, "constructor," meaning an organization that engages in construction. That has nothing to do with a contractual relationship, however. Accordingly, to make that relationship clear when it applies, one would refer to either the "constructor in charge" (formerly "general contractor") or "subcontracting constructor" or "sub." One would not say "subconstructor," because doing would comprise an ill-advised blend of contractual relationship and general performance description; i.e., the entity involved is always a constructor, but is a subcontracting constructor only within the context of a contractual relationship. Note that a person can be a constructor only when the entity involved comprises that one person. When it's more than one, as almost always is the case, refer to the constructor's representative as just that; ditto for "client representative." more

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