Dear YouDig?

By John Swansinger, Partner in the Real Estate and Construction Practice Group at
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs

Dear YouDig?

We are the prime electrical contractor on a very large industrial project.  Simply put, the owner’s construction manager has been a nightmare. All aspects of the project are extremely contentious, at times, closing in on fisticuffs.  He has repeatedly harassed our team while they are working like some sort of slave master or 1950’s football coach. Angry flare ups and vicious name calling dominate every job meeting.  He accuses our veteran project manager of incompetency and refers to him only as the “Stooge” during every job meeting.  He even kicked over the coffee table in our trailer during one of his rages! To say the least, the project manager wants to take matters into his own hands.  We are all sick of this jerk but we still have 50% of our scope to wrap up.  We expect a war to break out over the last pay application.  What can we do to shore up our chances of getting paid?

-Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

Your PM rightfully wants to jack the CM in upside the head.  Being called a stooge by an incompetent idiot can get to the best of folks.  Remind your PM that while he is trapped in a situation, all things and people come to an end. This project and that “person” will end as well.  The objective remains “get the work, do the work, get paid.”  It is impressive that you recognized early that the CM will try to establish his convenient version of things to short change you at the end of the job.  Minimize this risk with PROOF OF … EVERYTHING.  Double down on your best practices of documentation.  Object in writing to any of the CM’s ridiculous claims regarding the work to avoid waiver arguments. Stick closely to the contract as to the timing of notices. Increase your collection of audio, video and photographic evidence while being sure to capture dates, time and the presence of witnesses.  Comply with every detail of the contract.  Remember, the only way you can counter the idiot’s “truth” is with your PROOF, YouDig?