Tips to Resolve Job-Site Problems


By John Lack,

Regardless of how much you prepare, job-site challenges can still appear at any time. There are many potential causes for problems on a construction site, including weather, unforeseen site conditions, union issues, poor communication, scheduling delays, errors in construction plans, documentation management, unreliable subcontractors, incorrect custom orders, improper contracts, builder mistakes, unexpected costs, and much more. The impact and severity of a problem can vary a great deal depending on the situation as well as the resolution.

I recall several years ago constructing a single-story commercial building out of town. This was long before plans were on PDFs—back when you had to take your vellum to get plans copied and mailed the old-fashioned way. (I don’t feel that old!)

The S-1 foundation sheet in the plans measured one foot larger on the outside of the foundation than the S-2 structural steel sheet. This was not caught until bar joists were delivered from out of state and we started setting them. Once we realized seven of the bar joists were too short, I immediately contacted those who needed to be involved or aware of the situation. The owner, architect, engineer, joist supplier, and steel erector all gathered to discuss the issue and how we could stay on schedule.

The structural engineer designed one end of the bar joists to be extended one foot. We put a material list together, had a local steel fabricator make the needed parts, and the steel erector fabricated the joists on site, with no lost time on the overall schedule. When all was said and done, it was agreed upon by all parties that the bar joist supplier would pay for the fabricated materials, and the general contractor and steel erector would split the cost of the labor to modify the joists. We all continued to work together for many years after that.

Again, every situation is different, and contracts often dictate how problems will be handled as well as who will incur the cost. The important part of this story is to get all the key parties together to lay out options for the best resolution.

When I could foresee a potential problem with another contractor, I would always go back to three basic principles:

  1. Read the contract. Contractors contract. They need to know what is in the contract.
  2. Try to resolve the problem early. Problems in construction do not go away.
  3. Gather all your communication on the situation, such as emails, texts, correspondence, and documentation, and build a timeline. Then, go back and fill in the gaps as much as possible. If you must seek legal counsel, the timeline will help your attorney evaluate the situation more accurately and efficiently.
John L. is our Construction guru
I bring over 35 years of experience in the construction industry in both field and office positions to Acuity including carpentry, welding, project management, contract negotiation, and much more. Also, I founded my own commercial general contracting firm specializing in building grocery stores. Over the years I’ve worked closely with architects, civil engineers, and developers. I’ve found it instrumental to build solid relationships with all involved in the construction project, including insurance companies. This is why I am here, I want to help you the contractor better understand insurance and help Acuity to offer products and services that meet your unique needs. I feel a close connection to construction and with my background I feel that I can make sure contractors have a better insurance experience.


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