supplementary conditions - what are they good for?

by Sheldon Wolfe, CSI, CCS

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the supplementary conditions need not be a mystery

Part 3 - an architect by any other name...

One of the interesting provisions found in many project manuals is the identification of the architect or the owner. The general conditions establish quite clearly that these entities are identified in the agreement. Identifying the architect or owner by name in the supplementary conditions does nothing to help execute the contract.

Note also that the conditions (Article 2 and Article 4 of A201) are worded in such a way that they include "authorized representatives" that can be defined as necessary either in Division 1 or on an as-needed basis. This eliminates the need to create and define other positions for those who carry out the duties of the owner, contractor, or architect. Use of other terms usually results in inconsistencies. It is sufficient to use "the Owner" only without referring to "the Owner's employees" or "the Owner's consultant." The primary avenues of communication are defined by the general conditions; it is unwise to casually establish lines of communication that circumvents those necessary for proper execution of the contract.

Owner requirements for insurance, prevailing wage rates, equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and similar issues are often addressed in supplementary conditions. This requires insertion of large amounts of text and disruption of the basic conditions of the contract. A better way to address these additions is to place each in a separate document and incorporate them by reference. This would allow one to have several different boilerplate documents that could be easily inserted according to the needs of the project. Insurance requirements would be much easier to read if presented in tabular form than if they are forced into an outline that is several levels deep.

Government agencies generally ignore the fundamental organization of the front end documents, mixing bidding requirements into supplementary conditions, and stating contract conditions in the advertisement or the instructions to bidders. They also like to use the advertisement, instructions, and conditions to make policy statements that are completely irrelevant to performance of the work. In what may be a stroke of deviant genius, they obviate the need for distinction between different documents by stating that everything is a contract document.

The supplementary conditions need not be a mystery. Just remember to use them only to modify the general conditions, which define relationships between the owner, the contractor, and the architect. The procedures used to implement the actions required of those entities almost always belong in Division 1, and procedures for bidding should be specified in the bidding requirements.


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Supplementary conditions - Part 1

Supplementary conditions - Part 2

1998, Sheldon Wolfe

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