RD2.4: Errors Commonly Made in the Construction Documents

(see FM4:6.1.1)

  1. Closed Specifications. A "closed" specification limits a product to a single manufacturer or group of manufacturers. An "open" specification allows products of any manufacturer to be used if the manufacturer's product meets the specified requirements. The use of closed specifications is generally prohibited by the University.

    Common "closed" specification errors:

    • Not using the phrase "or equal."
    • Listing only one brand plus "or equal" when it is obvious there are other known brands.
    • Using wordy formats that either do not specify items or contain a multitude of words to substitute for the phrase "or equal."
    • Using the term "approved equal" instead of "or equal." "Approved equal" is not defined in the Specifications.

  2. Incomplete, Unclear, or Ambiguous Statements. Some examples are:
    • Words missing from sentences.
    • Sentences (or lines) missing from paragraphs.
    • Meaningless or garbled statements.
    • Statements that conflict with other statements, or parts of the same statement that conflict with each other.

  3. Inspection and "Approval" by Soils Engineer or Any Person Other Than the University's Representative. Only the University's Representative is authorized to "approve"; the soils engineer performs tests, and reports results to the University and University's Representative.

  4. "Continuous Supervision" or "Continuous Inspection." Only the contractor can supervise the work. "Continuous" inspection of certain operations is hard to achieve and subjects the University to possible damages from the contractor if something is missed. If "continuous" is used, then the Facility (or University's Representative) must be prepared to provide such inspection. Use the statement that "work cannot proceed unless the inspector is present."

  5. Insufficient Conditions for Bond of Product or Guarantee of Product. The General Conditions requires all items to be guaranteed for a period of one year. Frequently, however, specifications require a roof (or other item) to be guaranteed for five years, but no mention is made of what is to be guaranteed, for example, leaks, cracks, or color. The special conditions must be specified.

    The Guarantee form in the General Requirements, Division 1, is used for guarantees of more than one year. Specifications sections must not require special guarantees for only one year. Other common, related errors are:

    • Requiring special guarantees but not providing the proper Guarantee forms.
    • Requiring a warranty on the contractor's furnished form. (Contractor's conditions vary and do not provide equal bidding standards.)

    It is helpful to the bidders if the locations of the special guarantees are listed in Division 1 and if the proper paragraph in Division 1 is referenced in the various sections requiring special guarantees.

  6. Reference to Subcontractors. Specifications are sometimes written as follows: "The Mechanical Contractor shall be responsible for . . .." The contract is with the contractor and not with subcontractors; therefore, specifications must not be drafted to assign responsibility for work to the various subcontractors or require the subcontractors to perform tasks. The contractor assigns the work to subcontractors. This same principle also applies to material suppliers and manufacturers.

  7. Non-Agreement of Alternates or Unit Prices with the Bid Form. This error is the result of lack of coordination: Alternates or unit prices are listed in Specifications sections without provision in the Bid Form of a place for the bidder to enter a price for the alternate or a unit price.

  8. Failure to List Soils Investigation Report in the Information Available to Bidders. A soils disclaimer is required whenever site work requires the use of a soils investigation report. The Information Available to Bidders provides this disclaimer.

  9. Incomplete or Improper Reference to Trenching Requirements. The Specifications Cover Sheet and Instructions in Part II gives instructions on adding to the Specifications for trenching requirements. Other modifications, such as protection to adjacent buildings, can also be added.

  10. Unenforceable Phasing of Work. If certain phases (portions) of the work require completion before the whole project is completed, then separate liquidated damages must be assigned to ensure the separate completion dates.

  11. Lack of Coordination between Drawings and Specifications. If specifications refer to drawings for contract limits, location of fences, parking areas, etc., then these items must be shown on the drawings.

  12. Incorrect Content References. References to Specifications sections or other documents are frequently necessary. These references must be correct. Some incorrect examples are:
    • "Fill out Form of Proposal properly"(use "Bid Form").
    • "See Supplemental General Conditions"(when there are none).
    • Referencing paragraphs, sections, divisions, etc. that do not exist.
    • Referencing one document while information is actually in another.

  13. Use of the Word "Inspector" without Defining the Term. If "inspector" is used, the term must be defined because the General Conditions does not define "inspector."

  14. Improper Requirements for Drawing Submittals. Instructions sometimes improperly require the contractor, subcontractor, or even suppliers to submit drawings to the state or other entities. The contractor should make all drawing submittals to the University's Representative.

  15. Listing or Description of Alternates Is Confusing. Refer to the Specifications Cover Sheet and Instructions in Part II for the proper use of alternates.

  16. Improper Reference to City or County Jurisdictions. University work is not normally subject to city or county laws and regulations.

  17. Drawing Dates Missing from the List of Drawings. For proper identification, each drawing must have a date, or a common date may be noted or all drawings.

  18. Lack of Content Documentation for Specifications. The Specifications Table of Contents must identify and show the number of pages for each Specifications section. Each Specifications page must be numbered and identified: e.g., "01030-1."

  19. Incorrect References. Some examples are: 
    • Referencing a Specification section for additional details which have not been included in that section.
    • Requiring a roofing guarantee when there is no roof.

  20. Improper Statements or Instructions. These errors are usually located in Specifications, Division 1, General Requirements, and also appear in the general requirements portions of other divisions. These errors include:
    • What type of construction equipment to use.
    • Making the contractor responsible for errors or omissions on drawings.
    • Including instructions to subcontractors, suppliers, etc.
    • Instructions that conflict with University policy, the Executive Agreement, or standard industry practice.


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