By Bruce Jervis
Bidders on construction contracts frequently must rely on physical site condition information provided by the project owner. Lack of time, access and money prevents bidders from conducting individual investigations. The law does not require it. All that is required is reasonable pre-bid observation.
Given the importance of site information, one might assume project owners put considerable thought and effort into its assembly. Not necessarily. It is cheaper and easier to pull some “historical” data from the files and include it with the bid solicitation. This can produce unfortunate consequences.
On a recent federal project, the owner used boring logs from test drilling that had been performed nine years earlier on an estuary floor. The waterway was dynamic and had been subject to an extensive reclamation effort. The boring logs were woefully obsolete. The contractor prevailed in its claim for a differing site condition.
Human activity as well as natural forces can render site information obsolete. Modifications and repairs affect the accuracy of as-built drawings. Even construction on adjacent sites can have an impact. Why then would project owners risk using aged, off-the-shelf data? Have you seen examples of this practice?