The GC Battle Never Stops

I recently got wind of some things that every general contractor MUST keep their eyes on. These things that slip through the cracks somehow and end up rearing their ugly head at the worst possible time.

So here is what happened. The GC, a very respected one at that, was asked to do an interior build-out for a very nice little coffee shop. Not a very big space, not a very big project.

Everything upfront seemed business as usual. Until the project started. The plans were incomplete and there was quite a bit of field expedience required. Expedience is simply the means and/or methods used to handle an urgent situation.

I personally know the field superintendent and I can tell you that if he wasn’t on top of this project, it would have gone way south in a hurry. There were literally things left off the plans like measurements, counter tops and sill caps, finished elevations and the like.

The problems presented to the GC and subs were almost incomprehensible because the plans were so incomplete. For the extra work required to perform those operations that were not on the plans and therefore not included in the bid, the GC turned to the owner. The GC explained all the change orders that will be required to fund all the work that now has to be done to complete the project.

The owner says well, I don’t have any money for that work. Here is where the fun really starts. There is a written agreement and fixed price based on the plans between the owner and the GC, then in turn, with the GC and the subs. So everyone is kind of bound to finishing the project without due compensation for the work over and above their original contract value.

The guy (the owner) is a very good guy and feels very bad about all this, as he too is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He relied on the architect, engineer and designer to do their job completely and correctly, but they did not.

All participating members of this catastrophe agreed to share the burden somehow to get this guy’s coffee shop open. Unfortunately, when the word got around of the situation, morale went into the shitter. Subs moved slow if they even showed up. Time became a problem now.

The sheer strength to make this job turn out right was because the GC has an excellent field superintendent and crew. They passed every building and trade inspection, to get the Certificate of Occupancy (CO), or so everyone thought.

When the GC went to pick up the CO it was denied. It seems that the fire sprinkler sub, never picked up their permit from the city, did all the work and never called in any inspections. It is a mess and a fair amount of work to remove all the ceiling tile for the fire marshal to inspect the whole pipe system and sprinkler heads. And then test the sprinkler system and its controls.

The inspections did pass and the CO was obtained and the shop opened on schedule.

We can plainly see that no matter how good the field superintendent and crew are, everyone in the company must do their duties as a member of the company.

I blame the Project Manager for the catastrophe. Had he done his job he would have caught the shortcomings. He would have been on top of all the inspections. Had he supported the field operations as he should have, none of this would have happened.

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