Project Revisions and the Havoc They Cause

Most jobs start the same way. You get some drawings, you bid the project, the job is awarded, and you proceed with the work. How many times have you gone to start a project and the drawings are stamped with “Issued for Bid Only” or “Not for Construction”? You ask for an updated set and get told “That’s all there is, when will I have my anchor bolt drawings?”

You dig in, get the grids, columns, anchor bolts and leveling devices in the model. You’re almost done drawing the AB plans and then your inbox dings. “Hey, we just received these revised drawings” the email reads. You open the drawings, they’re marked “For Construction” now.

The only change to the foundation plan is that they rotated all the column base plates, tweaked a few column section sizes, maybe increased the embed depth of a few anchor bolts and shifted a couple grid lines… big deal, right?
Now you must call up the customer and let them know there’s going to be a change order for the revision. They want a quote up front for the change amount. You set to work reviewing all the clouded information. You are nearly done with the last sheet in a 100-page set when you notice something different on one page that you didn’t remember being there before, but it isn’t clouded.

Your whole day is now shot. Time to review the drawings more in-depth. After spending the rest of the day reviewing for “unclouded changes”, you find a dozen other items that were revised. Put it all together and send in your quote for the anticipated time you’ll have to spend.

You continue with the project for another week or so. Then you get another email. New drawings. Rinse and repeat a couple times. Now you are on your 4th set of contract plans. Your customer tells you they have been assured there are no more changes coming down the pipe.

At this point, you are having a more difficult time meeting the schedule requirements of other projects due to the time you have had to waste on this one. Can’t let your other customers down, so now you’re working overtime for free to try to keep everything on track (the joys of self-employment).

As you press on though, you start to uncover some inconsistencies in the drawings. Elevations don’t quite match up. Grids and dimensions aren’t adding up. The geometry is impossible. You find unsized materials as well as materials shown that do not exist. These drawings aren’t ready for construction at all. You want to just park the job on hold, but your customer wants to press on. “Send me the RFI’s” they tell you.

It’s not quite that simple though. These drawings don’t need simple clarification, they need to be discarded and re-done correctly. You can’t just walk away from the project and leave the customer hanging (although you may want to). Now you spend another day or two drafting a pile of RFIs (consider adding RFI compilation time to your change order as a line item just to send the message).

These are turned around quickly, too quickly. Upon opening them, you find them plastered with the phrase “See Architecturals” as a response to almost everything. After a call to your customer to discuss this nonsense, they tell you to “just scale it and cloud everything”. It’s going to be another one of those jobs.

Not wanting to get stuck for a back-charge later, you carefully document everything as you go. Note everything that is scaled or otherwise assumed so you are sure to cloud it in your submittal set. Get the drawings finally submitted for approval and then sit back and wait the “2 weeks”, per contract, that the design team has to approve your drawings.

Time moves differently on the design team’s side though. 2 weeks for them is 2 months for you. You have moved on to other projects. You’ve had a chance to catch up on all the other work you were behind on due to the initial changes that jammed you up. Eventually, you land a nice, big project and get started with it; or so you thought.

Before you can get the grids in on the new model, this one rears its ugly head again. Approvals are back and now it is dripping red oxide. Turns out the design team was finally forced to face facts because of your clouds and questions and they’ve entirely re-designed the project. Essentially, they have re-drawn the project in red over your submittal.

The good news, the design is now complete, and you can actually get this project done. The bad news, your schedule is shot again as you are now basically double-booked with the new large project. But hey, at least you can write another change order!

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