What if the First Test Fails?

We receive the following suggestion from a building envelope consultant to include in a specification for sealant adhesion testing provided by the contractor.

A. Perform test every 100 feet for the first 1000 feet of joint length for each kind of sealant and joint substrate.

B. If no failures have been found during (A), test every 1000 feet of joint length thereafter or 1 test per each floor per elevation.

C. Additional testing and replacement of non-conforming sealant shall be performed at no cost to the Owner.

My Questions
What is the consequence of failing the first test specified in (A)? No other testing is required because testing specified in (B) is required only when no failures are found by (A).

Does the contractor have a choice between the two testing frequencies in (B)? As written, he does. The spec specifies Frequency 1 "OR" Frequency 2, giving the contractor the option to select the method to use.

Is the contractor obligated to repair the sealant joints damaged by the adhesion testing? The sealant is cut and pulled from the joint during the test. If not repaired the joint will leak.

What is the additional testing in (C) that the owner need not pay for? Is this retesting of areas that are repaired after initial tests fail? Is this testing at more frequent intervals than specified? Who determines the extent of additional testing and when it may be required?

I am sure the owner-contractor agreement does not permit the contractor to deliver defective work as the final product. So is there really a need to say in (C) that the owner does not pay for replacement of non-conforming work?

Should the Contractor Ask?
There are no apparent conflicts in the proposed testing requirements. So there is no need for the contractor to ask for clarification by addendum or RFI.

The best plan for the contractor may be to ensure he installs 900 of the first 1,000 feet of sealant correctly and passes 9 of the 10 initial adhesion tests. The contractor must replace the defective sealant in the area of the failed test. Then the installation can proceed without any additional sealant testing.

Can You Say Change Order?
I am certain the intent is not to stop testing when one of the initial tests fails. But that is not what the spec would say if the consultant's proposed text is included. When the architect or consultant demand the testing be continued, the contractor would be right to request a change order.

There is no requirement that the contractor repair the joints after testing. Will the owner be facing a charge to make these repairs?

Clear, Complete, Concise, Correct
The choice of words is so important to convey true intent. It is easy to analyze what is said, and more difficult to imagine what is not. However, the missing words may well be the key to a complete understanding.

Construct specifications carefully. Say what you mean. Keep it concise so ensure the meaning is clear. Imagine what others may find in what is not said. Above all, be certain the scope is complete.

Proposed Rewrite
How might the text be rewritten to achieve the intended results? Here is my suggestion to the architect. The test method was specified separately.

A. Adhesion Testing: For each type sealant and each joint substrate perform tests at following frequencies:

1. Initial Testing: One test for every 100 feet until 10 successive acceptable tests are completed.

2. Subsequent Testing: One test for every 1000 feet with minimum one test for each floor of each building elevation.

B. Replace and retest defective sealant joints. Perform one adhesion test for each contiguous length of replaced sealant joint, minimum one test for every 50 feet of replacement.

C. Repair sealant joints damaged by testing.

Recent Posts


Professional Associations
Owner Focus
Contractor/Estimator Focus
Architect/Specifier Focus