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Joined: Nov 2002
Posts: 169
A doctor friend hired an architect to provide complete plans and specs for his new home. Doc asked me if I would help him with the bids. (I’m a retired EC, registered PE, and still hold a master’s license). The method in this area seems to be that the GC just includes copies of the sub’s bids. It has been a nightmare! When I talked with the subs the EC didn’t bid per plans & specs. His reason-“I didn’t know you wanted it that way”.
The plumber had material charges for three water heaters that were furnished free by the POCO and other questionable items.
HVAC had doubled the amount of piping for the geothermal system, among other items.
I had made T/O’s so I knew quantities. Doc has decided to go cost-plus as I did with my home. I will be monitoring all aspects for him.

Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
I guess that having integerity is not politically corrrect.

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 717
One of my jobs recently, I made a point of attending pre-bids to make the following statement: "You know those things called specs you normally ignore? DON'T ignore them here, study them very well, you WILL comply with them... PERIOD"

As far as I was concerned, they were fairly warned after that. Now I find myself in a position where I hear the normal "Specs... I didn't read those" and without the authority to feed them to them...... aaaaahhhhhh, wake me up from this nightmare.

Joined: Dec 2002
Posts: 337
I have had many contractors tell me that they did not see that in the specs even when the drawings specificatlly refer them to the specs on that item, and somebody on that side of things is almost always garanteed to lose. DO NOT ignore them. The bummer is we lose also, time to see things being done correctly, stress, and not wanting to be a hard nosed pain.

I do my best to make sure specs pertain to the job (unless the job is very minor and then the electrical specs are a 1-2 page generic do things by code, follow the plans, and use new stuff). What irritates me most are those who I verbally warn at an early stage before work is done to bond metal junction boxes or some other simple code issue, who don't, OR, contractors who never gave their subs the specs.

What pleases me most is to work with the many whom I never have to worry about. Who come to me for clarification, go the extra mile or even just do the job to the minimum. Who even come to me with corrections to errors that I have made. I wish that I always had these on the job working for me.

Thanks to all of you who are like this.


Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
claiming ignorance to gain extras is common practice where the specs aren't really specific

otoh, the more specifics you ask to have clarified, the greater your chances are in pricing yourself out the door

i've done both actually...


Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
IMO it's what you get when accepting low-bids.....cutting corners, cheap materials, and speed wiring methos.


Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
From the EC side I see engineers leaving more and more out of the prints.

The last contract job I was involved with the customer got so fed up with us, the plumbers and the mechanical contractors turning in a pile of extras they got another engineering firm to go over the prints.

The determination was made that the contractors where justified in the extras as the original drawings where missing so many items.

We still work for that customer, the original engineers do not.

I am not saying ECs are always perfect but it works both ways.


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
When talking to a competetor who keeps under bidding me he made the comment that specs are what is on his windshield.
If this type of work is accepted, the owner has only himself to blame.
The bad part of this is that contractor is very profitable and gets away with it almost all the time.

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
What has happened to integrity?

I think the appropriate question here is what has happened to accountability? And I think the lesson learned here is do business with people you trust, not whoever submits the lowest price.

The owner doesn’t understand everything involved with the project, so he hires an architect and/or engineer. They don’t always know the difference between required, practical and an over-designed, over spec.’ed idea that is more of a hindrance than a help. And they hand off the project to a contractor or group of contractors that “has been doing it this way for years.” It’s enough to make me want to go home some days.

The trade off is this: The more each party truly knows and understands about the other parties involved, and what their job is, the more you can rely on lower price to make your decisions, because you will be able to spot the party that is not on the ball and hold them accountable, or at least call them on it.

Otherwise, the more dependant you are on the other parties, the more you need to trust them. And that is where integrity comes in.

But this whole problem gets set into motion when you are handed a print that nobody follows, and is obviously over spec.’ed because whoever drew it doesn’t know enough to dance right up to the line.

But I don’t lay blame at the arch/engineer alone. All parties are to blame. The GC has to hold the sub accountable to install per print, and the sub has to question the designer on some of these over kill designs, and the owner need to be aware that the designer isn’t always the best source of info, and needs to press for an efficient design. The owner too can hold both GC and sub to the specs.

But mostly everyone keeps quiet for the reasons Sparky mentions. I think it may be the single most frustrating cycle I see in the trades, and it is what keeps me a smaller shop. Both because my bids don’t get me the bigger jobs as well as I turn down bidding them. It can make working for a homeowner a little more appealing.

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 106
About 99% of the drawings we get have the following statement from the architect on the first page (paraphrased of course):

[Linked Image]

"I doubt these plans are anywhere near correct. I did not take the time to carefully look at the existing conditions but you better. You will have to guess what is behind the walls and tell me what is there. If you guess incorectly, you will pay for it. You have to notify me in writing of all the things I missed, ignored or screwed up on. I reserve the right to act like a pompous a%* when you call me about my mistakes.

I shall take two weeks to make the final decisions on how to make my grand vision a reality. You, however, will get no extra time for fixing my mistakes/omissions."

Don't get me started on interior designers.


Power to the people
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