Volume: 4, Issue: 2 - 01/16/2015
By Bruce Jervis
Construction contracts make extensive use of trade standards when defining the work. It is common for contracts to utilize or reference industry manuals, standards or specifications. But these objective standards are not the same as “trade custom.”
Trade custom is sometimes used to interpret, or understand, trade standards which are used in a contract. It is important to remember, however, that customary practice in the field, no matter how prevalent, cannot alter or supersede the express language of the contract documents. ... Read more.
Featured in Construction Claims Advisor:
- Fabricated Concrete Wall Panels Were Not a “Product”
- Trade Custom Could Not Trump Contract Description
The spring 2015 edition of Husch Blackwell’s Contractor’s Perspective caught our eye for a number of reasons: “Spending on federal contracts was down in 2014. But False Claims Act settlements were up. So were the number of new regulations, the number of GAO bid protests, and the number of claims at the ASBCA.” ...Read more.
While we await the results of the Estimating Survey, which closes February 1, let’s take a look at several actual estimating spreadsheets and see what we can discern as possible best practices. Starting this week, we will be examining estimating templates used by various public agencies and posted on their websites for public use. Links to the actual templates will be included for our readers use. In today's issue, we take a look at the use of multiple sheet “tabs” for organizational purposes.
Three Sheets Every Estimate Should Contain
In a spreadsheet program like Excel, a single spreadsheet file may contain multiple sheets. In Excel, each sheet has a tab to facilitate accessing the sheet. The tabs can be labeled to identify the contents of the sheets, and can even be color coded, hidden and/or protected. For the purpose of a construction estimate, a common practice is to use two or more tabs in a single spreadsheet file to organize different parts of the estimate. In our first sample, from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, there are three tabs: ... Read more.
BNI Books, publisher of Construction Savvy and over 50 cost estimating guides, and DC&D Technologies, Inc., publisher of Design Cost Data, are co-sponsoring the Estimating Survey with ConstructionPro Network. We welcome their participation, as they are leading providers of estimating resources in the U.S. If you haven’t yet participated in our survey, please take five minutes to tell us your experience with estimating processes and applications. Click here to take the survey now. Results will be published in February and provided to all ConstructionProNet, Construction Savvy and Design Cost Data subscribers.
We look forward to your participation, as well as the involvement of Construction Savvy and Design Cost Data in developing future construction cost estimating surveys.
Volume: 4, Issue: 1 - 01/09/2015
By Bruce Jervis
Unpaid subcontractors and suppliers have long been frustrated by the slow processing of claims against payment bonds. These bonds are the best form of payment security on public projects, yet collection can be complex and convoluted. A recent case from the Connecticut Supreme Court illustrates the problem.
The state “Little Miller Act” requires public works payment bond sureties to either pay or deny – based on stated good faith grounds – within 90 days of receipt of a claim. The statute is silent, however, regarding the ramifications of noncompliance. ...Read more.
Featured in Construction Claims Advisor:
- Surety’s Late Response Did Not Waive Defense to Claim
- Contract Line Item Repeated Statement of Work
In general, site investigations are based on observance of the apparent surface conditions. Bidders do not usually have access to the project site in order to make detailed studies of surface features, let alone subsurface conditions. Even with access, time and money can present a major obstacle to detailed study and further exploration at the bid stage. However, it is the bidder’s duty to investigate the site in order to become familiar with local conditions and to allow for a bid adjustment following any unusual findings. Nonetheless, the owner is responsible for allowing a reasonable period of time and access so that the bidders can conduct the investigation provided for in the invitation to bid. ...Read more.
Estimating is the core function of all construction projects. Owners start with conceptual estimates when a project is first proposed. These estimates get refined as the project develops and ultimately, contractors and subcontractors will prepare detailed take-offs and estimates to prepare a bid or establish a budget. Before microcomputers came around in the 1980s, estimating was primarily a manual function, aided by the use of handheld or desktop calculators. Today, a significant amount of estimating is automated, even to the point where they can be performed on smartphones.
There are three general elements to an estimate: 1) the direct cost of the installed materials, including labor; 2) indirect, or support costs, such as scaffolding, crane usage, testing, inspection and punch lists; and 3) markups, such as overhead, profit and contingency, or risks. Frequently, particularly for small projects and for change orders, the indirect costs are included as part of overhead.
In the upcoming issues of ConstructionPro Week we will be covering estimating-related topics and are interested in hearing your feedback, including learning about best practices, challenges and what our readers see as future directions in construction estimating. We would like to start this dialogue by inviting you to take our quick, five-minute survey by clicking here.
Volume: 3, Issue: 51 - 12/19/2014
By Bruce Jervis
Most contractors on federal construction projects are at a significant disadvantage in disputes with the agencies with which they do business. The federal government has such a vast array of personnel and resources that only the largest private companies can hold their own.
Statutes such as the Contract Disputes Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act level the field to a certain extent. However, one area where the disparity of power remains evident is the “discovery process” – the pre-hearing disclosure of information and documents. ... Read more.
Featured in this Week’s Construction Claims Advisor:
- Veterans Affairs Sanctioned for Withholding Documents
- Owners Forced to Litigate with Architect and Arbitrate with Builder
By Steve Rizer
It will be interesting to see what kind of impact an appeals court ruling in Moorefield Construction v. Intervest-Mortgage Investment Co. will have on the construction industry if California’s Supreme Court does not grant a petition for review or de-publish the case. At least in the eyes of a pair of subcontractor groups, if the state’s high court does not take such action, “the general public policy and California constitutional right to mechanic’s lien stated in Wm. R. Clarke Corp. v. Safeco Ins. Co. … would be irreparably harmed.” ... Read more.