Remember how I said to never assume? Yeah, about that…… even when you plan for failures, mistakes, and other problems, sometimes things get so outside the realm of what you considered that it can leave your construction project spinning. Take, as a random example, a world-wide pandemic that shuts down supply chains, shuts down job sites, and limits the labor pool. Just as an example.
What does construction law say about pandemics? They fall under an “Act of God” that you may have read about in your contracts, or in the contracts of the contractors working your projects. An “Act of God” is an event that is not foreseeable, and as such not something the parties could have anticipated when they drafted the contract. Acts of God generally excuse a party’s failure– for example, a contractor’s failure to complete the project on time can be excused when an “act of God” has occurred.
By now, you’ve dealt with the practical fall out, one way or another. Many projects no longer made financial sense for your clients. Others may have been modified, reduced in scope, or had substitute materials put in place.
What do you, as an architect or engineer, do now, faced with the potential for further shut downs, supply chain issues, and other COVID variants? The short answer is to give yourself options and assume changes will be needed to your own scope of work on each project. Consider:
- If the project needs to be re-designed to account for shortages, can that be an additional service that you get paid for?
- If the project requires substitute products, how many of those are part of your basic service, or is there a point at which you should get paid hourly for researching, reviewing, and approving substitutes?
- If the project takes a lot longer than anticipated to complete, whether due to government shut downs, labor issues, or supply chain problems– can you get paid increased contract administration fees? And, is there a contract provision that allows you to increase your hourly rate after X number of months, to reflect inflation?
These are some of the ways that you, as a designer, can protect yourselves from ongoing delays, and make sure you are not tied to a project without a way to recoup your extra costs.
Thoughts? Questions? Share what’s worked for you or what you’d like to learn more about in the comment section below.