When either the contractor or the owner requests a change in the contract documents, which will likely include a change in contract price and contract times, the most import part of the engineer’s job is to get the two parties to agree to an equitable change. If the two cannot agree to a change, the next step is for either party to file a claim for what they believe they are entitled to.
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A claim will typically be more difficult to resolve than a request for a change. The fact that a claim is submitted indicates the process of working together has already begun to break down. The engineer’s best option is to bring the two parties agreement on the change needed. Often the owner will abide by the engineer’s judgment, providing the change is not too large. However, if the changed condition results in a decrease in contract price or contract times, the contractor is likely to balk, and it may be the owner who will be led to file a claim.
The engineer will do well to help the owner and contractor to agree to changes and not let changes become claims. Claims are much more difficult to work through, have the possibility of becoming disputes, and put a greater burden on the engineer.
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