Long Intl Defective and Deficient Contract Documents

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  L ONG I NTERN TION L  www.long-intl.com5265 Skytrail DriveLittleton, Colorado 80123-1566 USATelephone: (303) 972-2443Fax: (303) 200-7180 ããã ã Long International, Inc. ã       Richard J. Long, P.E.  Defective and Deficient Contract Documents    –    A 2013 Update Richard J. Long, P.E. Table of Contents 1.   INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................ 1   2.   THE SPEARIN DOCTRINE AND OTHER LEGAL UNDERPINNINGS .................................... 3    2.1   THE SPEARIN DOCTRINE ...................................................................................................................... 3    2.2    ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING CASE LAW .............................................................................................. 5   2.2.1   Failure to Provide “Specific Information on Matters of Substance” ................................................. 5   2.2.2   Latent Errors ..................................................................................................................................... 5   2.2.3   Adequacy of the Specifications to Yield Satisfactory Performance .................................................. 6   2.2.4   Liability for Sole Source of Supply or Subcontractor ....................................................................... 7   2.2.5   Liability for Differing Site Conditions .............................................................................................. 8   2.2.6   Liability for Delay as a Result of Defective Specifications .............................................................. 9   2.2.7   Certain States Do Not Recognize Breach of Implied Warranty Claims .......................................... 10   3.   THE OWNER’S FAILURE TO DISCLOSE VITAL INFORMATION TO THE CONTRACTOR ................................................................................................................. 11   4.   CONTRACTUAL TIME LIMITS MAY NOT BE AN ADEQUATE DEFENSE AGAINST EXTRA WORK CLAIMS DUE TO DRAWING REVISIONS .................................. 12   5.   THE OWNER’S DEFENSES AGAINST SPEARIN ...................................................................... 13    5.1    DISCLAIMERS/ASSUMPTION OF RISK .............................................................................................. 13    5.2   OWNER-PROVIDED INFORMATION .................................................................................................. 13    5.3   CONTRACTOR’S DUTY TO REPORT ERRORS AND AMBIGUITIES .............................................. 16     5.4   THE CONTRACTOR DID NOT RELY ON THE ERRORS OR AMBIGUITIES  IN PREPARING ITS BID ........................................................................................................................ 16     5.5   UNJUSTIFIED RELIANCE ON OBVIOUS ERRORS OR AMBIGUITIES ........................................ 16     5.6    COMMERCIAL IMPRACTICABILITY .................................................................................................. 17     5.7    SILENCE IN SPECIFICATIONS ............................................................................................................ 17     5.8   CONTRACTOR PARTICIPATES IN THE PREPARATION OF SPECIFICATIONS ............................................................................................................................ 17     5.9   CONTRACTOR USES ITS OWN METHOD .......................................................................................... 17     5.10    MINOR ERRORS ...................................................................................................................................... 18    5.11   CONTRACTOR DEVIATES FROM PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS ............................................... 18    5.12   CONTRACTOR DID NOT PROTECT ITS WORK ................................................................................. 18    5.13   CONCLUSION .......................................................................................................................................... 18  Copyright © 2017 Long International, Inc.i  Defective and Deficient Contract Documents    –    A 2013 Update Richard J. Long, P.E. Table of Contents (continued)   6.   OPTIONS FOR MITIGATION ........................................................................................................ 20   6.1   OWNER’S OPTIONS FOR MITIGATION ............................................................................................. 20   6.1.1   Design Development ....................................................................................................................... 20   6.1.2   Contract Formation ......................................................................................................................... 21   6.1.3   Contract Performance ..................................................................................................................... 23   6.2   CONTRACTOR’S OPTIONS FOR MITIGATION ................................................................................. 24   6.2.1   Contract Formation ......................................................................................................................... 24   6.2.2   Contract Performance ..................................................................................................................... 25   6.3   CONCLUSION .......................................................................................................................................... 26    INDEX ........................................................................................................................................................ 27   CASE CITATIONS .................................................................................................................................. 29   Copyright © 2017 Long International, Inc.ii  Defective and Deficient Contract Documents    –    A 2013 Update 1.   INTRODUCTION If the owner of an engineering and construction project first contracts with an engineering or architectural firm to prepare the specifications, construction drawings, and other contract documents, and then hires a construction contractor to build that project, the owner carries an implied warranty that 1) the specifications, construction drawings, and other contract documents that it furnishes to the construction contractor are accurate, and 2) an acceptable product will result if such specifications and drawings are followed. Examples of the Breach of Implied Warranty of the accuracy of the specifications include misrepresentations of soils conditions, misrepresentation of the availability of construction water, or structural design flaws such as  bolts too small to meet loads. Examples of the Breach of Suitability of Specifications include the design of a heating system insufficient for a building’s needs, specification of roof insulation that violates the local building codes, the specification of foundation piles or pile driving methods that provide an inadequate foundation for a building, or specification of a steam boiler and piping system that does not provide an adequate amount, pressure, or temperature of steam. Specifications and drawings can be defective because of the following: error or omission, incompleteness, inadequate detail or description, conflicts, incompatibility or inconsistency, insufficient legibility or coordination to permit satisfactory construction, inability to use the  particular materials or procedures specified, commercial unavailability of a specified item, or misleading provisions, or other similar problems. Specifications do not have to be perfect; a reasonable number of errors are acceptable as long as the specifications are prepared with a reasonable standard of care and are of average quality as judged by industry practice. 1  Defective plans and specifications can cause the contractor to perform extra work to correct the defect, delay the contractor while the owner determines how to correct the defect, disrupt the contractor’s work by forcing the contractor to resequence its work to avoid the affected area until the owner decides what to, or all of the above. The contractor may be able to recover its increased costs as a result of these problems. The contractor may also be able to recover damages against the owner for the increased costs resulting from the difficulty of achieving the construction methods included in the owner’s plans and specifications. This includes the costs of additional materials, equipment, labor, and other damages, including lost profit, resulting from 1  See, e.g. ,  John McShain, Inc. v. United States , 412 F.2d 1281. 1283 (Ct. Cl. 1969). Notwithstanding the potential that the owner may have a tort remedy for design malpractice, the standard of care by which a design  professional’s conduct will be measured in assessing his liability in either contract or tort must be determined. In the absence of express contractual warranties or stipulations imposing a different standard of care, proof of negligence has traditionally been required as a basis for the imposition of liability in damages upon design  professionals. In performing the design work, the engineer’s duty is to exercise such care, skill and diligence as men engaged in that profession ordinarily exercise under like circumstances. The engineer is not an insurer that the contractors would perform their work properly in all respects. See, e.g. , Pastorelli v. Associated Eng'rs, Inc. , 176 F. Supp. 159, 166 (D.R.I. 1959) (quoting Cowles v. City of Minneapolis , 128 Minn. 452, 151 N.W. 184, 185 (1915)). Copyright © 2017 Long International, Inc.1
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