Contract change order limitations

Change order limitations are sometimes imposed on public works contracts by statute, regulation or the contract itself. The underlying policy is to protect the project budget and the integrity of the public procurement process by limiting the expansion of the contractual scope of work. A limitation typically states that if the estimated cost of a change order exceeds a certain percentage of the original contract price, the additional work must be put out to bid.   Change order limitations can lead to devious tactics, however. In a recent California case a public project owner and its construction manager tried to circumvent a ten percent limit in a site work contract in order to avoid the delay of competitive bidding. New grading work was to be added to the general building contract and the building contractor would sub the work to the site contractor.     The project owner never amended the building contract and the building contractor wouldn’t pay the site contractor fo ... Read the rest of entry »

Disclosure of Superior Information

The concept of “superior knowledge” or “superior information” is unique to construction contracting. Contract law in general holds a party responsible for intentionally withholding significant information in order to mislead the other party. This is usually characterized as “fraudulent misrepresentation” or “fraudulent inducement.”  With construction contracting, a project owner may be liable to a contractor for failing to disclose significant information even though the nondisclosure was not intentional or fraudulent. The California Supreme Court recently issued an important decision on nondisclosure of superior information by public project owners. If a public project owner (1) possesses information which will affect the contractor’s bid price or performance cost; (2) knows the contractor does not possess that information; and (3) includes nothing in the contract documents which would cause the contractor to inquire about the information; then ... Read the rest of entry »