By Bruce Jervis
Unimpeded physical access to a job site is essential for a contractor’s efficient performance of the work. Yet, the property that affords site access is almost always controlled by others – the project owner, public authorities or other third parties. This is one of the biggest cost risks of performing construction work, but it is difficult to control.
Construction contracts usually address the matter of site access. But, as with other physical site conditions, owners have a tendency to make representations and then take them back. The owner disclaims responsibility for the accuracy of the representations. They are provided to the contractor for information only. The contractor is responsible for independently determining and assessing the adequacy of site access.
In one recent case, the contract stated that “access to the site is unrestricted.” The statement, however, was in a paragraph captioned “transportation facilities.” The project owner later argued – effectively – that it had not warranted unrestricted site access for purposes of performing the work. It had merely warranted vehicular access.
What has your experience been with representations of site access? Can they be relied upon? Is the experience in the field consistent with the statements on the paper? I welcome your comments.