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The Specifications Overrule the Drawings….or Do They?

The contractor calls you about a high end residential project and says “the drawings are calling for wood base but the specs are calling for a 4″ vinyl base. Since the specs overrule the drawings, should I install the vinyl base?” What do you tell him?

AngerConflict

Video Tip 002.

I discuss whether the Specifications overrule the Drawings is actually a true statement and show evidence in the AIA A201, General Conditions. If you think you know the answer, you’ll want to check out this video and be sure to leave a comment below!

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15 comments… add one
Marcos Santa Ana August 31, 2011, 9:35 pm

Great job, David. Use a transparent marker tool for the next video tip.

David August 31, 2011, 9:40 pm

Thanks Marcos!

i was playing with the yellow transparency marker and doing some tests and it didn’t seem like it was showing up well enough on the screen. i will play with it more to see if i can get better settings. thanks for checking out the video tip!

david

Rick Hallenbeck October 12, 2011, 10:57 pm

Great clarification on governing documents.

As a suggestion it would also be helpful to also clarify the conflict resolution with the Contractor and ultimately who is responsible to pay for an increased cost for a 12″ base in lieu of 4″ base when the Contractor bid a 4″ base.

Victoria B Lara February 2, 2012, 11:04 pm

David I also thought specs overruled the dwgs…and the way you explain it great using common sense sometimes helps a lot! Hahaha…great videos! I thank you in behalf of the entire aging intern architect (AIA) community….

David March 24, 2012, 8:36 pm

you are welcome victoria! it’s definitely one of those things once you get that “aha moment” you start to wonder how you ever thought otherwise.

thanks for watching,

david

stanley lonseth May 15, 2012, 3:31 pm

David –

Interested in knowing what your follow-up was to Rick Hallenbeck’s question above on October 12, 2011 re: about clarifying how you are to resolve differences between the spec. and drawings when clearly there is a price difference between what the drawings show and what the specs call for. My ‘experience’ is that IF the contractor can show his bid results for the 4″ vinyl base ( versus the 12″ high wood ), the owner ends up paying the difference between the two items after a general contractor would provide a proposal for the difference in work scope. However, it may also include a higher cost for the more expensive material due to the contract execution. So, while there is no doubt that the drawings and specs. are complimentary per the AIA A201, Article 1.2.1, the contractor will make the argument that because of conflicting information, despite him not notifying the architect nor the owner of the discrepancy beforehand of the discrepancy, he went with the less expensive material in consideration of his bid. And will make the argument that, as should the architect, that IF there had not been any conflict the owner would have ended up paying a higher contract amount anyway for the 12″ base. The problem is the owner is now paying much more for the difference of materials because it is after the contract has been signed. Inevitably this almost always puts the architect in bad light with the owner due to such a ‘lack of coordination’ within the architect’s documents. Right ? I would apprciate any other thots you have. . . .

David May 21, 2012, 11:28 am

hi stan,

yes, that situation sounds like the architect would get involved as initial decision maker and if that wasn’t successful, then meditation would follow. let me share some additional thoughts on the next podcast.

thanks, david

stanley lonseth May 21, 2012, 2:06 pm

Thanks David for the response. . . I look forward to the next podcast with further clarification.

Stan

Muhammad Alnakash October 11, 2012, 12:42 am

Thank you David, you are absolutely correct about the word “complementary”.
I had many of these situations, where it is uncomfortable the first few times, but it gets better as you grow thicker skin to counter balance the contractor’s skills in pointing the finger at the architect.

Muhammad

David October 11, 2012, 9:46 am

You’re most welcome, and yes it goes against what seems to happen in the real world and yes having a thicker skin is helpful for an architect. thanks for checking out the video tips!

david

Molly McCabe December 19, 2013, 7:20 am

Great subject, thanks for covering it!

David January 15, 2014, 9:46 am

Hi Molly!

You’re most welcome 🙂

Thanks, David

Milton Dalida June 30, 2014, 11:49 pm

So, if the Specifications don’t override the Drawings, and there is a conflict, which one does the Contractor and Architect follow? Since they are complimentary, the Architect and Owner is to be notified. Then does the Architect and Owner have the final decision?

David July 3, 2014, 9:52 am

Hi Milton,

The Architect will need to review the conflict and issue written clarification to the Contractor. Depending on the conflict, the Owner may need to be involved in the final decision.

Thanks!

David

Bridget May 25, 2015, 2:41 pm

Wouldn’t this situation infer that the contractor was responsible for providing BOTH the vinyl base and the wood base in his bid, if he didn’t clarify that one outweighed the other beforehand? I would argue that both are called out/specified and therefore both are required in lieu of any RFIs stating otherwise

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