Cash allowance or contingency?

You are designing a new condominium building, and you’re not a landscape architect, however the development company your client has requested that the the landscaping for the building be included in the construction contract. You are behind schedule, the tender deadline is nearing, and there is no time to hire a landscape architect. What do you do? Postpone the tender? This is a case where a Cash Allowance may come to your rescue.

A “Cash Allowance” is defined in the CCDC Stipulated Price Contract as follows:

“Where precise details of certain portions of the Work are unknown at the time of calling bids, the bidders may be required to include a cash allowance in the bid price.”

A common example of where a Cash Allowance comes into play would be in the case of a power connection to a building. Often Public utilities will only provide estimates at the start of a project, and the final costs are only known once the work is actually complete. Therefore a Cash Allowance would ensure that the costs of hookup are covered within the bid contract amount. Other examples of items that can be covered by cash allowances could be testing and inspection, sculptures, murals, landscaping, site furnishings, special hardware, special equipment, owner purchased products, and of course specialty mill-work.

Sometimes  a “Cash Allowance” is confused with a “Contingency Allowance.” The key difference between the two is that a Cash Allowance covers the known, whereas the Contingency Allowance covers the unknown costs in a project – acting as a rainy day fund.  A Contingency Allowance is defined as:

“A fixed amount to cover increases in costs for changes in the work that the contractor cannot be expected to know in advance and are not defined.”

Keep in mind that the Cash Allowance is still only an estimate, and once the actual cost of the work is known the Contract Price must be adjusted by a separate Change Order that records the difference between the cash allowance and the actual amount payable. This can result in either a credit or increase to the final construction cost.

Even though a Cash Allowance seems pretty straightforward, great confusion can result unless the scope of work and costs included are clearly defined and listed in the contract specifications, usually in Section 012100.  For example a Cash Allowance wouldn’t normally include the Contractor’s overhead and profit, however it could include:

    • Actual cost of Materials
    • Applicable taxes, except GST
    • Delivery to site
    • Handling on site
    • Labour and all other costs related to installation
    • Where applicable, all subcontractor and sub-subcontractor overheads, and profit related to the cash allowance

Rform provides online forms (Change Orders and Cash AllowancesSchedule of Values, and Certificates for Payment) that guide staff through an established process that includes; creating and entering information, auto-sequential numbering, simple distribution of forms, receiving of quotes, coordinating comments from the consultant team, obtaining the necessary approvals from the different members of the project team and many other features.

References we used in researching this post include:

  • CCDC 20 – A guide to the use of CCDC 2 – 2008 Stipulated price contract
  • The Construction Specifications Institute: Construction Contract Administration Practice Guide
  • AIA – The Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice – 14th Ed

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