In normal times, it is very important to understand the notification requirements in your contract with the general contractor or owner. COVID-19 takes proper and timely notification to another level. How many subcontractors have not been affected by delays to current projects? How many of you have not seen reduced productivity directly related to seemingly overzealous but necessary steps to make the workplace as safe as possible for the workforce? And how many of have experienced projects being put on hold until further notice. COVID-19 will have adverse effects on your planned productivities and the sooner we recognize what those affects are and the effects they will have, the sooner we can provide proper notification. Just because COVID-19 is, to say the least, an unusual situation, and one that is recognized by all parties as having adverse effects to the construction industry, does not mean that the notification requirements do not have to be met. Quite the contrary, with everyone affected, the sooner you provide notification the better off you will be and the chances for recovery will be much better than those that procrastinate and do nothing until it’s too late. COVID-19 has created changed conditions on nearly every construction project and changed conditions must be addressed.
In many cases, relationships or the fear of repercussions influence how we address changes. If we have a history of working well with a particular general contractor, we may be inclined to accept a verbal promise that the general will “take care of us”, rather than following the more official notification clauses outlined in the contract. Taking this type of approach is less than professional and an invitation for disaster. As professionals and representatives of our individual companies, we are duty-bound to approach changes to the work in the methods outlined by the contract.
The contract is very specific on how we are obligated to address changed conditions. We are required to provide “written notice” of the changed condition within 21 days, (or the time frames specifically outlined in your contract), after the occurrence or within 21 days after you first recognize the changed condition. The contract does not give you the option of verbal notification. All notification must be in written form even if you are accused of putting together a “claim.” When asked not to provide written notification we should always respond by stating that “the contract requires me to do so.” Once we overcome this, all too common, hurdle, addressing changes to the work will become routine and, as importantly, you will be perceived as a professional and respected for the way in which you approach your work.
The word “claim” can have ominous overtones, but, in essence, it is only a request for compensation arising from changes to the contracted work. If the owner’s representative issues an RFI or CCD that increases the amount of framing, drywall or taping to the project, your cost proposal for the change is nothing more than a claim, as a matter of right, for payment to perform the additional work.
Check out the September 2020 edition of Walls & Ceilings: This issue spotlights Clayville Insulation, SIP construction is a very relevant and safe building solution, scissor lifts ensure greater jobsite safety success, and much more!