In 1988, five Port Elizabethans agreed that as a much-needed, voluntary, non-profit service to the South African construction industry, they would design a building contract which ensured that building contractors and their clients had a mutually fair, complete, workable set of conditions on which to base their contractual arrangements

The five authors of the proposed Agreement were     

  • John Bowles  and Michael Raaff  -  registered Quantity Surveyors in private practice 
  • James Blackburn, also a registered Quantity Surveyor and senior Director of master builders  Murray and Roberts
  • Prof Gaye Le Roux, the Head of the Department of Quantity Surveying at the former University of Port Elizabeth, yet another registered quantity surveyor  and
  • Michael St Leger Searle, -  an expert in contractual matters and principal in the legal firm Joubert, Galpin and Searle.  

They decided to produce a uniquely formatted document, combining an original copy (client’s copy) with a duplicate copy (for the Contractor), each in an extended single-sheet, which meant that the complete, undivided text of the Agreement would always be in full view of anyone perusing the contract, thereby diminishing the risk of oversight of any of the clauses.

In 1989, the First Edition of the innovative Agreement, titled Everyman’s Building Contract    -   generally known as Everyman’s     -    was  published by QS Publications in Port Elizabeth.

The authors’ expectations had been that the document would be most popular for minor works, but they soon discovered that the majority was used on medium-sized projects throughout South Africa.  

When stocks ran out, the document was not reprinted. 

Over the years, frequent requests for copies clearly indicated that while Everyman’s was needed by contractors and their clients, if it were to play its original role as a mutually fair, complete and workable set of conditions of contract supporting the interests of both parties engaged in construction processes, the contents had to be refined, updated and aligned with developments in the construction industry.

During 2013, in searching for a new home for Everyman’s, the original authors approached the Department of Quantity Surveying at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with the suggestion that their existing authorship rights would be ceded to the Department, on condition that Everyman’s would be used in a teaching / learning environment and that the Department would take over Everyman’s by updating the document in perpetuity and distribute at a non-profit price to contractors, co-contractors, clients, property owners  and developers.   

In gifting Everyman’s to the NMMU Department of Quantity Surveying, the five authors believe that apart from its importance in 

  • further education and training, 
  • tertiary education, and 
  • usage by role players and stakeholders in the formal sector of the South African construction industry, 

the continuously updated Agreement will  fulfil a vital role in educating and  supporting

  • small and emerging building contractors,  
  • co-contractors, and 
  • clients, 

in understanding  their contractual  obligations and the need for compliance.

“Everyman’s” will be available from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Department of Quantity Surveying.

For more information, contact Roy Cumberlege.

Contact information
Mr Roy Cumberlege
Head of Department
Tel: +27 41 504 3020