Well, you should have known that!

Discussion in 'Managing Projects and Business Issues' started by Jerome Levy, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. Jerome Levy

    Jerome Levy Industry Observer

    How do other companies handle this problem that I?ve come across a couple of times? The customer provides you with a drawing package and you bid upon exactly what the plans and written specs call for. Then you go to pull the permit and you?re told that the materials an/or design don?t meet code.

    I had a recent experience where an access road?s culvert pipe was specified undersized and did not meet county requirements. Needless to say, I ordered everything right after the NTP so that we could meet their deadline. When the problem arose, I contacted the CM and he told me that I should have known that because I?m the GC and I should know what local requirements are and he wanted me to eat the difference for the larger corrugated metal pipe.

    I went over his head, and was able to get a change order, but I?m afraid I may have burned a bridge.
  2. Mike Anderson

    Mike Anderson Friend of the Community

    We have had this same problem in our markets. Zoning did not specify that our site was in a flood plain and that the county requirements for installation of trees around our new site were not drawn to spec. In this instance although you went over the CM's head to get a change order, you were right to do so. The last thing you want to do is give up profits for a customer when they make a mistake. Their responsibilities are to adequately supply you with the right set of plans, SA and scopes prior to bidding. A/E firms have to be aware of the zoning requirements and be held accountable for these. Chances are the company you worked for went after the A/E firm for the change order you submitted. I wouldn't worry about it too much. If they refuse to send you any more bids, then they are not worth doing work for.
  3. Steve Jones

    Steve Jones Friend of the Community

    I couldn't agree with Mike more. I can't tell you how many times a change in scope has come about and the customer says "You should have known that and compensated for it in your bid already." Too many have lost the meaning of the word "accountability" in our industry.
    If a customer gives you documents on which to bid, a "reasonable person" should have a "reasonable expectation" that the customer has done their homework...right down to municipally-approved CD's. Of course we as contractors have a duty to know the codes of the municipalities in which we operate, but so should the customer's A/E firm. But it's become commonplace for many customers to bully contractors into taking responsibility for the actions/inactions of others for the fear of "losing their future business." That practice has to be met with firm resistance from the contractor.
    And along the same lines as Mike's comment, if going over this customer's head to reach a mutually-beneficial outcome means you lose his/her business in the future, you've more than likely done yourself a favor and saved yourself a lot of trouble in the future.

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