The product is examined under a microscope and compared to what was originally specified. It turns out that other projects have had similar problems with this product. The manufacturer maintains that the product was not stored on site properly and not installed correctly, thus voiding the warranty. The contractor says that the only reason it was used is because the architect approved it. The contractor states that since he is not an architect, how would he know if the product was acceptable.
The contract documents should require that substitutions have the approval of the architect. This is to allow the architect to remain in control of the project scope defined by the contract documents, for which he or she is responsible under state licensing statutes. But now the owner is stating that he accepted it only because the architect approved it. The owner files a lawsuit against the contractor and the architect for selecting, approving and installing a faulty product.
This scenario plays out day after day in claims and legal actions across the country. It will continue to prevail unless and until actions are taken to protect the architect’s authority. Actions can be taken to help prevent such travesties, but they may not always be successful. However, building your firewall up front is much better than no protection at all.
NOTE: The Value Engineering process originated at General Electric in the 1950’s because of the limited availability of building products following World War II. It was originally a structured, disciplined process that was vetted by engineers; thus, the name. It began to gain popularity in construction in the 1980’s as a cost reduction measure. It remains a legitimate process, but only when managed and administered properly. It is sometimes referred to as value analysis or value management.