Wine without Cheese? (Why a construction contract needs an order of precedence clause)(Law Note)


For today’s law note, I’m addressing a comment that came to me last week from Dave O’Hern of Miller O’Hern Construction. Dave writes:

I am a general contractor doing a fuel tank replacement project for our county. In the specifications there is a spec for a UL 142 tank, on the plans the spec references UL 2085 – a much more expensive tank. My subcontractor bid the UL 142 tank. The specifications state that the specs and plans are on the same level of precedence.

The county wants me to furnish the more expensive tank without compensation citing the clause that states the plans and specs are complementary and what is called for by one is binding as if called by all and the most stringent requirement will apply.

My position is the word “stringent” according to Websters means “rigidly controlled, enforced, strict, severe.” The two specifications are written by Underwriter’s Laboratory and precisely decribe each type of tank clearly and without ambiguity for the purpose of rigidly controlling the qualities of the product. Consequently the two specifications are equally stringent. Stringent does not mean more expensive or what the pre-bid intent of the owner.

Please see full law note below for more information.

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