Work ordered on a construction project without an existing agreement on its cost, and performed with the understanding that the contractor will bill the owner according to the cost of labor, materials, and equipment, plus a certain percentage for overhead and profit.
Force account can be a contractor’s best friend or worst nightmare if not handled carefully. Contractors need to remember that public agencies each have their own procedures for administering force account. Private contracts usually have a variation of force account often referred to as time and material work.
what should a contractor do when delay and disruption are incurred because of force account work? First, if you are suffering or may suffer delay or impact damages relating to force account work, follow your contract’s notice and dispute resolution procedures regarding those damages.
Be Aware, Be Careful, Watch what You Agree to and What Might Be A silent Change Affecting Other Work. Be Sure and make the owner or CM/Arch. aware make a similar statement to this example. "Nothing in this force account shall preclude the Contractor from seeking an extension of time or time related damages to unchanged Work arising as a result of this force account work."
Most importantly, do not sign a change order without carefully considering the rights you are giving up. Owners and their attorneys are increasingly relying on procedural defenses to defeat otherwise valid claims. Courts are increasingly willing to rule against contractors when owners raise these defenses. Follow the terms of your contract, and make sure you get paid the money you deserve.