Get All Your Changes In Writing

By Greg Vanden Berge

I like to share a story with you, this is something that happened to my father and his partner. Both of these contractors had been working in the construction business for over 30 years, when the story that I am about to share with you actually happened.

I'm not talking about someone, fresh out of high school, I'm talking about contractors who had a pretty good understanding about the construction process and the importance of contracts.

My dad and his partner were building a large mini storage complex, when he noticed the plans had called for the roof sheeting plywood to run parallel to the roof joist. This isn't a common construction process and usually the plywood runs perpendicular to any floor or roof joist.

The plans were approved by the engineer, architect and even the city where the project was being built. My father contacted the architect, to advise him about the problem and the architect said,” If it's on the plans, and that's how we want it built.” My dad thought this was a little strange but, stranger things have happened before in the construction business.

He proceeded ahead and finished framing the entire project, which used thousands of sheets of plywood. When the city building inspector came out, he noticed that the plywood was ran in the wrong direction. He looked at the plans and advised my dad not to do any more work, until he talks to his boss or a city engineer.

Within a short time, the city inspector informed my father that he had ran the plywood in the wrong direction and it would need to be fixed. Even though the city had approved these building plans. He contacted the architect and the architect contacted the engineer and within a short period of time, got back with my dad and explained to him that he would need to install 2 x 4 blocks, 2 foot on center, in between the roof rafters, throughout the entire project.

This was going to cost a lot of money and my dad suggested that someone else, besides him is going to need to pay for this mistake. It didn't work out that way, my dad and his partner, ended up paying for most of the repairs, simply because he didn't receive anything from the architect, engineer or city building department in writing.

If there is something on the plans that you need to change or question, and you get an okay over the phone, you need to request something in writing and if you can't get something in writing, I would advise you to stop working.

I don't know exactly how much money this cost my father and his partner, but I do remember how much material and how much time it took to make the necessary repair and the amount of time that it held up the entire project.

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