Order of Precedence or Interpretation Request

Consultant specifications delivered to architects for inclusion in project manuals can produce some interesting coordination issues, especially when there is no time to make corrections before the scheduled publication.

Food Service Equipment Spec
The following (edited for brevity) was received from a food service consultant. I am not sure why order of precedence is considered a performance requirement.

1.04    Performance Requirements

A. Where architectural and engineering drawing and specifications differ from food service drawings and specifications, the food service documents govern.

B. Where food service drawings differ from food service specifications, the specifications govern.

C. Where food service equipment specifications differ from food service specifications, the equipment specifications govern.

D. Where food service detail drawings differ from other drawings and specifications, the detail drawings govern.

Were the documents really created giving the highest priority greatest scrutiny to those that are highest in the order of precedence? Probably not.

So What's the Problem?
That is just it. There is no problem!

The documents, through order of precedence, resolve all the problems, automatically. No intervention by the architect, engineers, food service consultant or owner is required. The order of precedence resolves the conflict without need of clarification by the design team. Potentially dangerous? You bet!

What if the detail drawings are wrong? Too bad! The contractor's price and contract relies on the detail drawings as the governing documents. If the design team finds the detail drawings are wrong after the contract is signed, the owner will pay for the change. If the condition is discovered late in construction, the owner may pay dearly, with a delayed opening and lost revenue.

A Better Course
When (Not IF but WHEN) discrepancies in the documents are discovered, the best course is always to require the contractor to ask the architect to interpret the documents' intent. Hopefully the contractor will ask questions sooner (during bidding) rather than later (while constructing the affected work). Requests for Interpretations (RFIs) give the contractor an opportunity to suggest a solution.

Then the architect has an opportunity to evaluate the discrepancy and make a decision about what was intended. He can choose the contractor's solution or issue one of his own.

Even if the solution results in a change, at least the result will be best for the project - not an arbitrary resolution based on the prescribed relative importance of the project documents.

Plan and Share
Draft your specifications early enough to circulate among the project team members for proper coordination. Minimal effort before documents are issued for bidding can save significant effort during construction administration.

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