ABIC contracts

The Australian Building Industry Contracts (ABIC) are jointly published by Master Builders Australia Limited (Master Builders) and the Australian Institute of Architects (Institute). They are intended for use in building projects where an architect administers the contract. The 2018 revised editions of the ABIC Major Works (MW) and Simple Works (SW) commercial and domestic documents and template forms (previously called Contract proforma) are now available under the relevant state and territory pages. For a revised edition of the ABIC Basic Works (commercial) contract refer to ABIC Basic Works BW 2018.

Search for and buy contracts at architecturecontracts.com.au

For FAQs on the ABIC 2018 contracts, see here. For a table outlining the differences between the 2008 and 2018 contracts, see here.

Note: The new Corporations Act / insolvency laws will affect all contracts and in particular Section Q of the ABIC contracts, refer to the ABIC MW or SW User guide under the relevant state and territory pages. For an explanation of the changes refer to Termination rights and insolvency events.

ABIC contracts information

ABIC contracts are designed to make contract administration clear and less prone to dispute or time-consuming negotiation. ABIC contracts bring certainty to the process, requiring timely presentation and resolution of claims. They have been extensively refined and field-tested and feature:

  • plain English and a clear, logical structure that reflects the sequence of the construction process;
  • equitable allocation of virtually all project risks to one party or the other, eliminating uncertainty and many potential disputes;
  • an integrated suite of versions for major, simple and basic works, and for housing and non-housing projects; and
  • detailed supporting documents, including a user guide, template forms for the architect and the contractor.

Selecting the right contract

There are different contracts for each state and territory for various types of projects. Selecting the right building contract can be critical to the success of a project.

The contract should be selected to suit each individual project, taking account of its complexity, value and any specific project issues or requirements. A contract selected simply because the architect is familiar with its provisions or is comfortable using it, won’t overcome the inherent difficulties that can arise if the contract is inappropriate for the project.

Differences between SW and the MW contract

The SW contract is intended for simpler projects than MW. Although the differences are numerous, notable differences are that SW does not provide for the following:

  • urgent instructions
  • separable parts to the works
  • change of type of security given by the contractor to the owner
  • provision of security for payments for off-site plant and materials
  • provision by the owner of security to the contractor
  • dangerous or contaminated materials
  • encroachments
  • quality assurance systems
  • separate contractors
  • identified, project specific potential causes of delay that entitle the contractor to costs

The MW contract is the most comprehensive contract in the ABIC suite of building contracts. Compared to the SW contract intended for simpler projects, it provides for the following additional issues:

  • urgent instructions
  • separable parts to the works
  • change of type of security given by the contractor to the owner
  • provision of security for payments for off-site plant and materials
  • provision by the owner of security to the contractor
  • dangerous or contaminated materials
  • encroachments
  • quality assurance systems
  • separate contractors (except in Queensland)
  • amendments to programs and the consequences of any amendments
  • alternative dispute resolution
  • expert determination of disputes
  • arbitration of disputes
  • contract confidentiality

ABIC 2008 MW and SW versions withdrawn from sale and use
Effective September 2019: The ABIC 2008 versions of MW and SW are no longer published and have been withdrawn from sale and use. They have been replaced with the 2018 revisions of MW and SW, which were released in April 2018. The ABIC co-authors no longer give copyright permission for anyone to use the 2008 versions (and 2011 versions in Queensland) of the ABIC MW and SW contracts, subcontracts, User Guides, the associated ABIC supporting documentation, nor the related Acumen guidance (the ABIC 2008 Materials). The ABIC co-authors do not give anyone permission to use, adapt, modify, reproduce nor communicate the ABIC 2008 Materials, unless permission is given under an express licence. Any such use is a breach of copyright and at a user’s own risk. The Institute no longer provides customer support or guidance about the ABIC 2008 Materials and we encourage all users to purchase and use the 2018 contracts and related supporting documents.