ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 2 - Issue: 8 - 02/22/2013

Loulakis Discusses Lessons Learned in Design-Build Case Law

By Steve Rizer


One of the lessons that can be learned from recent design-build case law is that design-builders are being held responsible for problems caused by third parties, Capital Project Strategies LLC President Michael Loulakis said late last year during a WPL Publishing webinar, a recording of which recently was added to the ConstructionPro Network ( Download Library -- free of charge for members.


In discussing this point, Loulakis told a target audience of owners, consultants, engineers, architects, subcontractors, and construction law attorneys, “The question is ‘How strong is that responsibility that design-builders are being held for dealing with problems caused by third parties?’ And the more specific question … is ‘How does the contract allocate risk when performance is frustrated by the actions of a non-party?’ [see figure below].”



“In my own experience, I think that design-builders, and contractors as well, have a false sense of security in believing that they are going to get contractual relief for delays beyond their reasonable control, inclusive of third-party delays,” Loulakis said. “[There is an issue regarding] governments that don’t perform fast enough in terms of inspections or in terms of approvals, and what we know is that on a lot of projects, on every project, we’ve got some form of governmental approval.”


Such approval may involve a fire marshal inspector “or something that is fairly simplistic, but on design-build projects, particularly the really big ones, we have third-party governmental agencies that play an incredibly important role in figuring out not only what the ultimate design might look like but also whether or not we’re going to have a functioning project.”


During the webinar, Loulakis listed the following other lessons learned in design-build case law:

  • Design-builders may be seeing an erosion of the Spearin and Good Faith and Fair Dealing doctrines.
  • Contractors take great risk in failing to follow the requirements of the Changes Clause.
  • Cost-plus contracts are not “no risk” contracts.
  • When a request for proposal says, “No exceptions allowed,” it means, “No exceptions allowed.”
  • Agencies are given deference in making their procurement decisions.
  • Pay attention to the conditions precedent to arbitration/litigation.
  • Designers can be targets when things go wrong.

For immediate access to the complete webinar (full audio and visual) -- as well as two dozen other construction-related webinars that are available for download -- sign up to become a member of WPL Publishing’s ConstructionPro Network, a complete training, education, and development resource for the construction industry, at




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