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Problematic Jobs and additional costs/services

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cadbyken:
After responding to another thread I need to ask some of the managers and people who have their own company out there some questions.

I have a job that the engineer has messed up...again.  Same engineer, similar problems.  One building they left 5½" of space for 14" deep ductwork.  The building is going up and this job was just given to me late last week with a fast pace schedule.  Another building, they have ductwork sized at 24" deep but only 18" will fit.  Because of this, the supply and return cannot go out of the mechanical room as they originally showed.  Most of this particular system has been a complete redesign by me in order to get it to work.

How does your company handle major changes to design?  Is it just part of the business?  What if you have to flatten a lot of ductwork?  I know that the costs go up because there is more sheet metal in flatter ductwork plus different reinforcement requirements.  What kind of liability concerns are there?  When do you send it back to the engineer for a redesign?  I know this latter question doesn´t currently help me because of the speed of the job.  

Also, because of other items missing from drawings I am thinking of adding a cost schedule to my contract to say if I add a fire damper it will cost $X.  Also, some background on me: I was a mechanical (duct and plumbing) designer for 11 years so I know their business.  I understand that they are designing at the same time as the design team (architect, structural engineer, etc) are designing.  But to have the same mistakes on three jobs really is not acceptable.  I would love to put the screws to this engineer but unfortunately, he will not pay for any changes the owner will have to.  Sorry, this is so long but I had to get this off my chest but I would like to here other's comments.  Oh, and I can't wait until I get into a meeting with these clowns one day.

cjehly:
I'm not an expert, but I believe US courts have ruled that if a design cannot be possibly done in the manner depicted, that it is a breach of contract.  You agreed to build the job according to the contract documents, but it cannot be built.  You are entitled to additional compensation.

You need to read your contract, and correctly document the issues in a timely manner.  You also need to notify the builder of you intent to seek additional costs.  Regardless of the wording in the specifications, you cannot be forced to spend additional time, effort, and materials to correct design flaws on your own dime.  Of course, the documentation in itself is an additional expense, and going to court will cost even more.  Sucks huh?

You argue on paper, and you do everything you can in person to alleviate the issues.  I would start by issuing a delay notice... that usually gets peoples attention.  

Work is tough these days.  Far too many engineering firms that don't deserve to be in business are happily cranking out junk, and the contractors are left to clean up the mess.  It's the same on the other Coast, Ken... but remember, these are the good times.  I'd rather have too much work than too little.

ScottieM:
Are you an engineer? Probably not. Only with a reasonable effort do you need to make changes to make things work. If you start redesigning the duct to much and add equipment where not shown; you are then changing the engineers design. Which leads back to the opening question, are you an engineer?  
These things do need to be documented and presented to the GC in the form of an RFI. Not the engineer. The GC is the pivot company on a job. All RFI´s and changes need to go through them.
If they force your hand, get it in documentation that you're not an engineer and it's to your interpretation of the drawing to make things work.
If the engineer changes the plans then it's a change order, more money.
If the GC doesn't back you, your lumping the cost. Value engineer where you can.

cadbyken:

--- Quote from: ScottieM ---Are you an engineer? Probably not. Only with a reasonable effort do you need to make changes to make things work. If you start redesigning the duct to much and add equipment where not shown; you are then changing the engineers design. Which leads back to the opening question, are you an engineer?  
These things do need to be documented and presented to the GC in the form of an RFI. Not the engineer. The GC is the pivot company on a job. All RFI´s and changes need to go through them.
If they force your hand, get it in documentation that you're not an engineer and it's to your interpretation of the drawing to make things work.
--- End quote ---

Currently, I do a detailed writeup that contains questions and comments about the job.  I usually note if I made sever changes and why this was done.  If a question is directly addressed to the engineer, I usually include that on the drawing via a set of notes.  This way seems to work pretty good.  Also, some of my clients don't give me a lot of time which makes it that much worse.

ScottieM:
You need your clients to be more proactive in the RFI's too. If they're rolling over. You have a lose lose situation.

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