ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 1 - Issue: 30 - 11/28/2012

Performance Specifications: The Ultimate Owner Disclaimer?

By Bruce Jervis


Performance specifications have become increasingly common as a tool for defining the scope of work. Rather than specifying design features, the project owner – through its design professionals – states the functional characteristics the completed project must possess. It is up to the contractor to devise a solution.


A problem arises, however, because many design documents are actually hybrid. They contain both design and performance features. This can be confusing for contractors. It also provides project owners with an excellent defense to contractor claims.


On a recent federal project, the contractor was responsible for constructing end walls for existing, open-ended steel buildings. The contractor believed the drawings showed the end walls attached to, and therefore supported by, the existing steel structures. But the specifications stipulated wind loads and soil loads, also stating that the contractor was responsible for foundation and structural steel design.


The government directed the contractor to design and construct the end walls as freestanding structures supported on concrete footings. The contractor claimed the drawings had been defective and misleading. But the performance specifications prevailed.


Is the mixed use of performance and design requirements fair to contractors? Can’t a project owner insulate itself against flawed or incomplete design documents simply by throwing in some broad performance characteristics? If a contractor is truly expected to devise a design to achieve specified performance characteristics, shouldn’t the contractor be unfettered by design features imposed by the owner? I welcome your comments.



The problem statement doesn't seem to lay out a clear abuse. A performance spec outlining the result desired would not typically require a contractor to design a component and provide the criteria for the design. It would describe a desired outcome and instruct the contractor to achieve it. It seems in this case the contractor did not read the specifications carefully prior to bidding.

Had this been a true performance specification, the contractor would have logically been able to argue that the desired outcome was achieved provided the construction the contractor chose complied with codes and industry standards. This situation is a hybrid d/b/b and d/b agreement it seems.
Posted by: Marshall Wilson - Friday, November 30, 2012 10:59 AM

We performed a project in the Pacific North West to extend an existing 35year old steel framed industrial warehouse building so as to enlarge its footprint and provide approximately 50% more roof area. The existing structures predated the region's earthquake design codes. The contract docs did not stipulate wind and soil loads. The owner refused to provide as-built data for the existing structures. We had to engage our own DOR who performed an analysis of the existing structures, determined prevailing soil and wind conditions and designed the building extention according to prevailing structural and building codes.

In some cases, it may be considered preferable to incorporate construction joints that allow new and existing structures to act independently in a seismic event.

Posted by: M. Duffy - Friday, November 30, 2012 11:11 AM

This situation serves to emphasize the need for contractors to carefully review the specifications and ask questions up front. Don't sign anything that you don't understand or that has abiguities in it. I remember one set of specs that, if it had been enforced as written, would have required destructive testing of every circuit breaker installed in a high rise. Luckily, the contractor questioned the requirement up front.
Posted by: Bob Baird - Friday, November 30, 2012 11:15 AM

As in many situations of mutual obligation, timely communication marks the trail to an implementation that satisfies everyone with a stake. Especially when the work involves existing facilities, pre-contract iterations of functionality/performance needs, feasible design approaches - and repeat - can be economical and effective in forming and keeping to the contract. The performance/functionality described should be useful, specific, and add understanding in ways that annotated drawings could not do effectively. There's nothing really new here. A stitch in time...

BTW, the Construction Specification Institute ( concerns itself with this sort of thing (along with much else) and might be worth a look.

Posted by: David Reynolds - Friday, November 30, 2012 11:23 AM

Design-Build intrinsically carries many risks not the least of which is the bad habit of too many Contractors failing to read the fine print themselves but of, sometimes intentionally, failing to pass the entire package along to invited sub-contractors. The resulting lower-than realistic bids for the work will please the Client - and many lawyers.
Posted by: Brendan Lynch - Friday, November 30, 2012 11:35 AM

Early in my career in the 70's, a wise old contractor of 75 years old stated "some of my best jobs were the ones I decided not to bid after assessing the bid docs". He also stated that more than 70% of his competitors from 20 years ago were no longer in business. Wonder why?
Posted by: david bentley - Friday, November 30, 2012 1:43 PM

My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different web address and thought

I should check things out. I like what I see so i am just following

you. Look forward to looking at your web page yet again.
Posted by: Trahan - Wednesday, October 09, 2013 2:46 PM

Hi my family member! I wish to say that this article is

amazing, nice written and include approximately all important infos.

I'd like to peer more posts like this .
Posted by: Ruzicka - Thursday, December 05, 2013 12:32 AM

Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as

long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?

My blog is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would

genuinely benefit from some of the information

you provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you.

Posted by: Lipscombe - Thursday, December 05, 2013 8:08 PM

Howdy would you mind letting me know which webhost you're working with?

I've loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.

Can you recommend a good internet hosting provider at a reasonable price?

Kudos, I appreciate it!
Posted by: Carswell - Sunday, December 08, 2013 2:25 PM

Great article! That is the type of information that are supposed to

be shared around the internet. Disgrace on the seek engines for now not positioning

this publish upper! Come on over and consult

with my web site . Thank you =)
Posted by: Elmore - Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:41 AM

Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website,

how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account

helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little

bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright

clear concept
Posted by: Atchison - Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:47 AM

Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it ;

) I may return yet again since i have bookmarked it.

Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.
Posted by: De Rougemont - Thursday, December 12, 2013 9:19 PM

Use a dehumidifier or run your air conditioning to reduce the water

level in your home. It is nearly impossible to get the exact right serving size and most people just open

the wrapper, eat the whole bar and that is that. Rather

than going all out in the local gym, sweating and straining for a couple

of hours, just walk briskly for at least 45 minutes every day.
Posted by: Petchy - Friday, December 13, 2013 7:26 AM

Hello, I enjoy reading through your article post. I wanted to write a little comment to support you.
Posted by: Carandini - Monday, December 30, 2013 8:01 AM

I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here.

The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish.

nonetheless, you command get got an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following.

unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same

nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.
Posted by: Michaud - Friday, January 03, 2014 3:22 AM

Your method of telling everything in this piece of writing is really good, every one can without difficulty understand it, Thanks a

Posted by: Brower - Friday, January 03, 2014 6:23 AM

I've been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or weblog posts on this sort of

house . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this web site.

Reading this information So i am happy to convey

that I've an incredibly excellent uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed.

I so much definitely will make sure to don?t fail to remember

this site and provides it a look on a relentless basis.
Posted by: Ennor - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 4:10 PM

Wonderful work! This is the type of information

that should be shared around the net. Disgrace on Google for no longer positioning this post

upper! Come on over and talk over with my website .

Thanks =)
Posted by: Brake - Thursday, January 16, 2014 5:23 PM

Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?

I'm getting tired of Wordpress because I've had problems

with hackers and I'm looking at alternatives for another platform.

I would be great if you could point me in the direction

of a good platform.
Posted by: Verret - Sunday, January 19, 2014 2:58 AM

Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?

There's a lot of folks that I think would really

appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks
Posted by: Bodiford - Saturday, January 25, 2014 8:13 AM

Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?

I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.

However think about if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, "pop"!

Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this blog could definitely be one of the greatest

in its field. Fantastic blog!
Posted by: Douglass - Saturday, January 25, 2014 9:54 AM

This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.

Brief but very accurate information_ Appreciate your sharing this one.

A must read post!
Posted by: Wetter - Tuesday, January 28, 2014 2:37 AM

Right away I am going away to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast

coming over again to read other news.
Posted by: Bavister - Friday, January 31, 2014 8:42 AM

Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in

Internet explorer. I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know.

The design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon.

Posted by: Alvardo - Friday, January 31, 2014 3:16 PM

Thanks for your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading

it, you are a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark

your blog and definitely will come back later in life.

I want to encourage one to continue your great job, have a

nice weekend!
Posted by: Wyselaskie - Sunday, February 02, 2014 2:19 PM

I've been exploring for a bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this sort of space .

Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this website.

Reading this info So i am happy to express that I've an incredibly good uncanny

feeling I found out just what I needed. I so much for sure will make sure to don?t fail to remember this site and

provides it a look on a constant basis.
Posted by: Boniwell - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 6:39 AM

Hola! I've been reading your website for a long time now and

finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas!

Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!
Posted by: Garretson - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 5:07 PM

Very good information. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident

(stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!
Posted by: McKillop - Wednesday, February 05, 2014 8:31 PM

Great blog here! Also your site quite a bit up fast!

What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate

link in your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol
Posted by: Joyce - Friday, February 07, 2014 3:58 AM

This is a topic which is close to my heart...

Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?
Posted by: Veiga - Thursday, February 13, 2014 4:15 AM

With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of

plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of unique content I've either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it

is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization.

Do you know any techniques to help prevent content

from being stolen? I'd definitely appreciate it.
Posted by: Kincheloe - Friday, February 14, 2014 10:52 AM

It's an awesome piece of writing designed for all the online users; they will obtain benefit from

it I am sure.
Posted by: O'Meara - Friday, February 21, 2014 9:16 PM

I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this

website yourself or did you hire someone

to do it for you? Plz reply as I'm looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got this from.

appreciate it
Posted by: Lenk - Saturday, February 22, 2014 1:56 PM

It's fantastic that you are getting ideas from this paragraph

as well as from our discussion made at this time.
Posted by: Gowlland - Saturday, February 22, 2014 9:52 PM

Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your

site, how could i subscribe for a blog website?

The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept
Posted by: Denison - Saturday, March 01, 2014 7:30 PM

excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists of this sector

don't notice this. You must proceed your writing.

I am sure, you've a great readers' base already!
Posted by: Richard - Wednesday, March 05, 2014 7:53 AM

It's actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful

info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by: Van De Velde - Wednesday, March 05, 2014 5:25 PM

) Those who took 1,320 mg of HCA daily lost 14 pounds on average compared to

about six pounds for those in the placebo group.

is just one of the sought-after herbal products worldwide as a result of

its capabilities to foster weight decrease. It is an

all-natural weight loss patch made to help you decrease fat by simply stimulating the thyroid gland.
Posted by: Haskell - Thursday, March 06, 2014 7:31 PM

Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having trouble locating it but, I'd like to send you an

email. I've got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing.

Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing

it grow over time.
Posted by: Hooton - Monday, March 10, 2014 2:43 PM

Thanks a lot for sharing this with all folks you really recognize what you're speaking approximately!

Bookmarked. Please also discuss with my site =).

We can have a link trade contract between us
Posted by: Coffelt - Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:56 AM

Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you know afterward you can write otherwise it is complex to write.
Posted by: Tolentino - Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:42 PM

We absolutely love your blog and find many of your post's to be just what I'm looking for.

Do you offer guest writers to write content available for

you? I wouldn't mind composing a post or elaborating on most of the

subjects you write about here. Again, awesome blog!
Posted by: Stahl - Sunday, March 16, 2014 11:43 AM

Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.
Posted by: D'Arcy - Monday, March 17, 2014 3:57 PM

Wow, this paragraph is nice, my sister is analyzing these things, thus I am going to

tell her.
Posted by: Nibbi - Monday, March 17, 2014 5:29 PM

Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick

shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your posts.

Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over

the same subjects? Thank you!
Posted by: Ashcraft - Thursday, March 20, 2014 4:30 PM

Admiring the persistence you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.

It's great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same old rehashed

material. Fantastic read! I've saved your site and I'm including your RSS feeds to my Google account.
Posted by: Steinberger - Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:43 PM

Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a

amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!

By the way, how could we communicate?
Posted by: Mcgriff - Thursday, March 27, 2014 6:58 PM

Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked

submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing

all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!
Posted by: Magnuson - Friday, April 04, 2014 8:25 AM

Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.
Posted by: Lefevre - Friday, April 04, 2014 7:02 PM

Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce

a really good article_ but what can I say_ I

hesitate a lot and don't seem to get anything done.
Posted by: Guyton - Thursday, April 10, 2014 4:13 PM

Great items from you, man. I have consider your stuff previous to and you

are just too excellent. I actually like what you've got here,

certainly like what you are saying and the way in which wherein you assert it.

You're making it enjoyable and you continue to care

for to keep it smart. I cant wait to learn much more from you.

That is actually a tremendous site.
Posted by: Fruehauf - Monday, April 21, 2014 1:36 AM

Keep on writing, great job!
Posted by: Sear - Wednesday, April 30, 2014 10:16 PM


WPL Publishing - 5750 Bou Avenue #1712 - Rockville, MD 20852

Phone: (301)765-9525  -  Fax: (301)983-4367

All Content and Design Copyright © 2022 WPL Publishing
About Us

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

My Account