In managing a project as the design professional, you are called upon to wear many hats. One of those hats is that of material specifier and, at times, substitute material approver. What are your duties in looking at substitute materials?
As always, the legal answer is “it depends”. In part, it will depend on your role on the project and what, specifically, the contract says. However, at its most basic, you can be sued for accepting an out of spec substitute material. This is so even if you believed the spec met requirements based on information that the contractor gave you. So, tread carefully in this area.
Do not assume any information that the contractor presents to you– take the time to research for yourself, call the manufacturer, and otherwise ensure that the product will work.
If the substitute is okay but will mean the Owner will get something a little different, make sure the Owner knows that and has approved the change. Needless to say, get this consent in writing, as it could be evidence one day.
While you may not ultimately be held responsible for approving a substitute that is inferior, you don’t need the headache of finding that out from a Court. Save your time, and your stomach lining, and make sure it’s correct and documented on the front end.
Have you been called upon to approve questionable substitute materials? How did you research whether they would work or not? Share in the comments below or drop me an email.