What is the impact of some common contract terms:
· Claim notification must be submitted within ?? days of an occurrence or the claim is void
· All costs must be submitted within ?? days or they will not be considered.
· The amount negotiated is full and final settlement for that change
· No total cost claims are allowed
Each of these requirements is perfectly sensible, you need to be notified in a timely manner, costs should be collected expeditiously, and once negotiated, the costs of changes should be final. Unfortunately, many changes are not so clear-cut as to have definite start and completion dates (do you make a claim for changed conditions after the first hard driving pile of 500, the 10th, ???). A series of changes may have a different cumulative impact than the sum of the individual changes and some changes result in incremental increases in the cost of the work (for example, a high-water table impacting the rate at which material can be excavated). If you work in area where strict notice regulations apply, as a contractor, you may have little choice but to claim quickly and claim often in order to protect your right to recovery. Even if substantial compliance with contractual notice is accepted in your area, why take the chance?
What constitutes notice is sometimes an issue as well. Is formal written notice of a potential claim required, are site meeting minutes sufficient, is the change so obvious that notice is a given?
A contractor has every right to be compensated for changed conditions and, as an owner, you should want your contractors to be paid for the work that they have done and to be recognized as a partner, not a combatant, in delivery of your projects. Ignoring contract requirements is not a solution for either party, but appreciate that your contactor may be playing by the rules that you established and react accordingly.