To understand the difference between tender documents and contract documents, first we have to understand what these documents contain.
A tender is an offer in writing to contractors to execute the some specified works or to supply specified materials within a fixed time frame and as per conditions of contract and agreement between the contractor and the owner or the department or the party.
The tender documents contains the bill of quantities (BOQ), specifications of the works to be carried out, time frame for the completion of the work, conditions of the contract and plans and drawings. These documents are provided to the contractor on the payment of certain fees. The contractor who quotes the lowest rates for the overall works are offer the contract to execute the work.
Contract documents are the agreement between the owner or the party or the department and the contractor to execute the works as specified in the tender documents as per conditions of contract on the rates quoted by the contractor.
The difference here to be noted is that tender documents are offered to as many contractors as possible to get the lowest quotes for the work specified, while the contract documents are signed only with the contractor with lowest tender or rates.
While the tender documents contains the conditions of contract and all the details for the specified work, there is not much difference between the two in terms of contents. But tender documents can not be submitted as Letter of Acceptance (LOA) as these are two different types of documents. While a tender document can not bind the contractor to do the work, a contract document binds the contractor to complete the work as per the agreement.
I hope you’ve been able to understand the difference between a tender document and a contract document? Please do share with your colleagues as this would help them in their search also.