Construction Claims Archive: Design did not provide adequate space


Appeal of M. A. Mortenson Company

ASBCA No. 53146 (January 7, 2005)

plan set

The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals has ruled that when a government design did not provide adequate space to accommodate the specified work, the government had to compensate the contractor for devising a solution. The effort was not included in the contractor’s “coordination” responsibilities.

The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract to the M. A. Mortenson Company for construction of a medical facility at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. The drawings depicted ductwork for the heating and air conditioning system running above a ceiling.

During construction, Mortenson discovered that there was not enough clearance between the ceiling and the bottom of steel beams above the ceiling to accommodate ductwork of the specified size. Mortenson proposed, and the government approved, a rerouting of the ductwork by a less direct route. The government refused to pay for the additional effort, however, contending it was part of the contractor’s responsibility for coordinating shop drawings and the work of the trade contractors. The Board rejected this argument.

“A government design that does not provide adequate space to accommodate work required to be accomplished within that space, regardless of any amount of coordination efforts by the contractor, is defective...This claim does not involve work that could have been avoided by timely recognition of the clearance problems. Rather, the claim arises from extra work that could not have been avoided by additional coordination.”