Do you have a list of conditions that are critical for successful execution of your work on construction projects? Why not! My guess is there are probably 10 or less key conditions that, if met, would go a long way toward allowing you to achieve your profit goals on a project.
Wouldn’t it be helpful for you to have them recognized in your contracts? Have you ever really tried to work them in? I know several contractors who have developed a list of the essential conditions that they must have in order to increase the chances for their company to meet or exceed their goals.
Whether or not the list of those special conditions for your work are accepted in your subcontracts, l believe there is great benefit for you to identify what they are. Think of them as necessary milestones, or checkpoints on the path of successful management and execution of your contract.
Let me offer the following steps for identifying and developing that list for your particular work.
- Identify the basic parameters that you need for efficient performance of your work. This could be things like; adequate laydown area, completion of concrete pours, removal of shoring, unobstructed use of floor area, vertical access, etc.
- Describe those parameters in more detail – think in terms of specific project conditions that need to be in place (or those that must be avoided) in order for you to perform your work. It’s helpful to organize them for the various stages of a project: e.g. underground, slab, or shell erection, framing, finishes. Here, it’s important for you to describe what the condition looks like. An example would be that you require clear, unobstructed use of 50% of the floor area (not fragmented) before you can mobilize equipment, materials and personnel to install the framing on a typical floor. Another example would be that prior to commencing with erection of steel columns, the anchor bolts must be verified by survey to be correctly located. Another condition common to many subcontractors may be that access to certain areas is to be made available to your company on an exclusive basis for a specific period of time (without obstruction from other trades).
- Wherever possible, your conditions should be tied to the key activity descriptions from the project schedule that pertain to your work (noting those activities that are predecessors where appropriate).
I encourage you to get into the habit of making a list of the key conditions for your work, and providing the details that connect them to specific performance parameters. If you make it a practice to include them with your proposals at bid time, you will increase the likelihood that they will end up in your contract.
Negotiations of these special conditions is facilitated when they are perceived to be a “standard” for your company (or the industry). Many subcontractors have been successful in getting some of the special conditions that pertain to their trade approved by having them adopted by their particular industry trade association as part of their standard of practice (and in some cases as part of the recommended specification for their trade).
I hope this will motivate you to take action, so that the next time you find yourself negotiating a contract, you will apply what I’ve discussed here and find that you’re able to change the “rules” to fit the particular needs of your work. ***
“Any fool can make a rule
And any fool will mind it.” – Henry David Thoreau
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