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Using experts for claims of differing site conditions

Contractors and project owners in North Carolina, know that large undertakings have many moving parts. Contract provisions often identify typical issues, and the methods for handling them. This is especially true when discussing site conditions. The contract should also address procedures for communicating and documenting unforeseen circumstances. When issues occur outside the contract parameters, there are several alternatives, innovative solutions, and cost-effective methods to avoid the cost and expense of litigation.

According to Spire Consulting Group, differing site conditions can cause unexpected delays, affecting project timelines and overall cost. In locations where the underground conditions are questionable, experts with the knowledge and experience quantifying the impact of the circumstances investigate the situation thoroughly. They may also determine the appropriate value of the damages, raising a wide range of questions:

  • What were the conditions prior to the start of the project?
  • Were there stipulations within the contract regarding the conditions?
  • Did the site differ from the contract description?
  • Was the situation reasonably unforeseeable?
  • Were there actual damages that resulted from the unanticipated conditions?

Trauner Consulting reports that contractors should perform a reasonable site inspection before bid submission. It is the project owner's responsibility to thoroughly review the contract documents, ensuring understanding of the differing site conditions clauses. Once the site work begins, contractors must demonstrate that there was timely notification to the project owner that the site conditions differed from those anticipated.

In some cases, a site expert may deem the circumstances unforeseeable. In those cases, it may be possible to resolve any resulting issues if they are identified early in the project and the parties can reach an agreement on the cost of any delays.

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