Minutes are Minutes and Not Addenda

The bidders are required to attend a pre-bid meeting. The owner, the design team, and (presumably) all the bidders attend. Each meeting follows essentially the same agenda.

The owner briefly explains his perspective of the project and outlines any special requirements - especially when the project will be renovations in an operating facility. Then each member of the A/E team takes a turn describing important facets of the design and the documents.

Finally, the bidders have their chance to ask questions about the project. These questions are often to clarify procedures about the bidding process and details about the bidding documents.

All the while, someone from the design team is taking notes of the meeting in sufficient detail to publish minutes for everyone's benefit.

Easy Enough

The first addendum was already planned. That addendum would be issued a few days after the pre-bid meeting because the A/E team expected bidders would ask questions that needed to be answered.

So the easiest way to answer the bidders' questions it so attach the meeting minutes to that first addendum. The addendum will list the attachment so it becomes part of the official bidding record.

A recently reviewed set of construction documents suggests it is that easy - so easy that the minutes were the addendum. The addendum recorded discussion from the meeting and included selected text from the bidding documents. The recorded discussion (unintentionally, I am sure) altered the meaning and importance of some contract requirements leaving the bidders an opportunity to exclude scope from their work.

Since addenda become contract documents when the agreement is signed, the specified text now appears in two places, and the altered meaning is now a contract requirement. Hopefully the repeated text is identical and the intended scope was not excluded.

But Not That Easy

Meeting minutes are not addenda.  Addenda are issued for a single purpose: to modify the bidding documents. If there is no modification, there is no addendum.

Addenda are defined in the AIA Document A701 Instructions to Bidders as: "written or graphic instruments issued by the Architect prior to the execution of the Contract which modify or interpret the Bidding Documents by additions, deletions, clarifications or corrections."

Meeting minutes are not a formal modification to the bidding documents. The minutes are simply a record of the meeting and should be issued for the bidders' information only.

When discussion at the pre-bid meeting results in the need to modify the bidding documents, then an addendum is warranted to make the necessary corrections. Issue addenda to correct or clarify specific text and graphics.

Think About It

Do you really want bidders' questions to be contract documents? How do you enforce a question?

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