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.