Spotting Specs Offenders

by Bryce Simons, (M.ASCE), Pres.; Simons Engrg. Services, Carnation, Wash.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 2, Pg. 68-69

Document Type: Feature article


About 80% of all specification related litigation is brought about by three different personality types all too common to construction projects. The problem is specifications abuse, when one of the parties involved: the engineer, the owner or the contractor, attempts to use the process of writing, bidding and carrying out the specifications to gain an unfair advantage. Some owners think that they can squeeze more value out of a contract by going with the lowest bidder and the cheapest practices. Change-order contractors win jobs with low bids based on distorted interpretations of the specifications and then reap profits when they charge for the change orders required to do the job right. Engineers who consider their work perfect and unalterable can hold up jobs for weeks by refusing to change a specification that calls for a contractor to do the impossible. Having any one of these three types involved in a project can destroy the teamwork required for a successful job and make sure the entire undertaking winds up in court. Avoiding these pitfalls is possible, and makes for a better project experience for everyone.

Subject Headings: Contractors and subcontractors | Owners | Bids | Change orders | Litigation | Writing skills | Profits | Team building

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