Why words matter (aka Shakespeare for Architects & Engineers) (Law note)


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Words do matter. In the context of construction law, there are some words that you should avoid at all costs. Top of the list is the word inspect. If your contract gives you the responsibility of inspecting the contractor’s work, stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Inspection (at least to some owners and juries) connotes that a thorough review will be provided, and that every fault will be identified. Instead of Inspection, a better word for your construction contract is Observe. You should not be providing periodic inspection. Instead, provide periodic observation.

Am I nit-picking? Perhaps. But inspect implies a much stronger duty than observe. (Just my personal observation!). There are other words you should also avoid in construction contracts.

Please see full Law Note below for more information.

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