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Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

I am curious to hear some of your opinions on this, and at the very least....vent a little bit. I am talking primarily about residential work here, but it is certainly not uncommon for a contractor to do something a little bit different than I intended. Surprise surprise. And I typically evaluate what was done, provide a "fix" if one is needed and move on. I don't always enjoy doing it, and would prefer that if they are going to change something that it be discussed BEFORE the work is done. But such is life, and I've earned quite a few clients and recommendations by being responsive and easy to work with so long as the job gets done in structurally satisfactory manner. I typically charge extra for any extra work that is done. My question is this: Do you think you have an obligation to see a project through when the plans are completely ignored? Do I have an obligation to help them out of the mess they create by not following plans?

The reason I ask is: I don't mind when its something here or there, but when it becomes clear that the plans were thrown away, completely ignored and done the way they wanted to, my patience grows thin. The only reason I know about any of it is because they got "caught" at inspection time and need me to write a "paper" (contractor's words) saying its okay. Analyzing, trying to justify, and trying to come up with feasible repairs for jackleg work isn't on my list of favorite things and is honestly a bigger/harder job than the original design! Obviously I wouldn't do this for free, but I just flat don't want to do it at all. I wouldn't even consider taking on the project if I weren't already the EOR. I don't want to jump through hoops because of their blatant disregard for the plans. I could fix a house that a blind monkey built, but that doesn't mean I want to! Do I have to? At what point do you say, "you clearly show no intention of following my direction, so go find someone else to help you with this additional work - I decline to provide a proposal for this additional work."?

Like I said, I have always found a way to correct, move on and work with the contractor. I have a lot of respect for many of the contractors I work with, but this guy.....I've had it. I wish I had a way of knowing who the contractor is before accepting a project. I hate my name being on a project that is built by some of these people. It is days like this that I want to start a design-build company and only work on things that get built right. "If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right"!

Thanks! I am curious to hear your opinions and advice.

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

1. Record the "ass built (er, as-built)" configuration, and keep a dated paper or (verifiable) digital copy of the design version to protect yourself in this lawyered world.

2. Do you work fro repeated contractors who will correct their errors the second-third-fourth time you issue revisions and corrections, or one-off contractors who would not learn from their errors/would not want to correct their errors?

Clearly, THEIR errors are costing YOU time, money, effort, worry, re-work, etc. Your solution requires some form of compensation to YOU from THEM (either before the bid, before the contract and error and rework, or after the contract and rework and effort, but the method of the solution(s) is not yet clear.

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

If occasional and not serious... generally no charge. If serious and requires a fair amount of work, or if there are lots of these, put them on notice that there will be costs. Have to be concerned about liability and 'clouding' the contract the contractor has with the 'owner?'. Is the client charged and he, in turn, charges his contractor?


RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

No, you don't have an obligation. You are well within your rights to tell them to go find some other engineer and make it right.

That said there's certainly plenty of reasons to do it, not all of which are the extra compensation you get for it. You also get to be seen as a flexible team player who is willing to jump in and help out. Also if you're taking on this extra work that means some other engineer is not getting that extra work and also not getting a chance to prove to the contractor and potentially owner/architect that they're better to work with than you are. I've seen this first hand as the 'other engineer' and taken future work from other engineers because my firm was willing to jump in and help out on this stuff and theirs was not.

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

When it becomes clear that the plans were thrown away, completely ignored and the work done the way the Contractor wanted to, perhaps getting to "be seen as a flexible team player who is willing to jump in and help out" is not the goal to be aiming for.


RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

I am not in the construction industry , and in the industry I am in, if you do not follow the drawings you get the part/s back with a big " Fix it " notice and a refusal to pay.
Now I realize that the construction industry is a little different, but at the very least some of those principals should apply.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

If it is significant, that calls to mind "breech of contract." They were hired to follow a plan and did something else. There's room for minor errors, but beyond that it transitions towards what might be called "fraud."

If the contractor comes ahead of time and asks for an alternate that's one thing. But to hide the differences until it is very expensive to repair smacks of conspiracy - if more than one person in a company knows they are committing fraud.

In any case, even if it is not a planned fraud, they promised to follow the plans and knew or should have known that they not only weren't doing so, they went and did something different.

Obviously complicated - the buyer failed to put an inspection plan in place, either hiring you or an independent reviewer. They apparently may have to deal with a structure they didn't want, if they even know the condition, though a failed inspection is likely to reveal this soon. The contractor is expecting to get paid for shoddy work and you are are in a position to write an excuse, but not in a position to bill either the contractor or the buyer for the time to do so.

However, no one likes a snitch, even though this contractor seems to deserve it.

I feel for you. Seeking legal advice about how to manage potential lawsuits seems wise at this juncture. Either the contractor or the buyer or both might sue; the contractor will potentially disparage your work to other potential buyers.

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

I always charge for fixes. If the plans were totally ignored, I walk away and let them find someone who is willing to sign off on it.
Does not happen much as I know most of my clients and they are good about calling me when issues arise.
One thing that has been coming up lately, however, is going to a job to fix an issue and find the framer is using an 8 1/2x11 version of my "D" size drawing - which explains most of the problem!

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

What a tough spot.

Maybe you can have a frank talk with the contractor about the untenable position he's put you in. It wont help with this time, but maybe next time. Next time your rate for fixes is double or triple. Contractors often do things "their own way" to pocket some extra profit. If they want you to "bless" their work you should get the profit. The clearer you make it up front the less they can/will complain when you invoke your right to ding them in arrears. And they might choose to be careful and do it right the first time.

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

Thank you all. I know that it is probably in my best interest to see the project through, get it fixed and never work with this contractor again. It just sounds so much more appealing to tell them it is their problem and not mine. I will swallow my disgust and get it done. I certainly will not be involved with this particular contractor again, but I would also like to develop some strategies to avoid this situation in the future. Maybe its just the nature of Residential work, but I do not like being involved with shoddy work. Seems like a recipe for a lawsuit being the EOR on something that is built by people with these "values".

RE: Obligation to re-design for Contractors that don't follow plans?

If you're going to charge for your time, would it be beneficial from legal and practical standpoints to make that a contract condition? Should you tell the owner, so they can have a clause saying engineering costs to justify or correct mistakes is not compensable? Or should I re-read the Standard General Conditions?

My glass has a v/c ratio of 0.5

Maybe the tyranny of Murphy is the penalty for hubris. - http://xkcd.com/319/

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