Dayworks in Construction: A Quantity Surveyors Insight


In the dynamic world of construction, dayworks can often be a topic of confusion and sometimes contention. As experienced Quantity Surveyors, we’ve navigated the complexities of dayworks on countless projects, and we’re here to shed light on what they are, when they’re used, and how to manage them effectively.

What are Dayworks?

Dayworks refer to construction work carried out without a prior agreed price or rate, usually because the work is unforeseen or too urgent to be priced in the traditional manner. This approach allows for necessary works to proceed without delay but requires meticulous documentation to ensure fairness for both the contractor and the client.

When are they Used?

Dayworks are typically employed under the following circumstances:

  • Unforeseen Conditions: When unexpected site conditions or obstacles require immediate attention that wasn’t accounted for in the original contract.
  • Changes in Design: Modifications or additions to the original design can necessitate work that hasn’t been previously priced.
  • Emergency Repairs: Situations that demand urgent action to prevent danger or significant disruption to the project timeline.

Managing Dayworks Effectively

The effective management is crucial to maintaining project budgets and timelines. Here are some best practices from a Quantity Surveyor’s perspective:

  • Clear Documentation: Every aspect of daywork should be clearly documented, including the nature of the work, hours worked, materials used, and any machinery or special equipment involved. This transparency helps prevent disputes over costs.
  • Pre-approval: Whenever possible, get pre-approval from the client or their representative for the daywork. This step is vital for ensuring that the client is aware of the potential cost implications and agrees to the work being carried out on a daywork basis.
  • Regular Updates: Keep the client informed with regular updates on the progress and costs of dayworks. Surprises in construction are rarely welcomed, especially when it comes to costs.
  • Use of Daywork Sheets: A daywork sheet is a formal document that records all relevant details of the work carried out. It should be signed by both the contractor and the client’s representative to acknowledge agreement on the work done and the associated costs.

Challenges and Solutions

The main challenge with dayworks is the potential for disputes over costs. Since dayworks are not priced in advance, there can be disagreements over the fairness of the charges. To mitigate this risk, it’s essential to:

  • Establish trust through transparency and open communication.
  • Use detailed and accurate records to justify charges.
  • Agree on a method for valuing dayworks at the start of the project, such as using standard rates for labour and materials where possible.


Dayworks are a necessary part of construction projects, allowing for flexibility in dealing with unforeseen issues. However, they require careful management to ensure they are used appropriately and do not become a source of dispute.

As Quantity Surveyors, our role is to navigate these complexities, ensuring that dayworks are managed transparently and fairly, safeguarding the interests of all parties involved. With the right approach, they can be effectively integrated into project management practices, contributing to the successful completion of construction projects.

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