Avoiding Construction Claims by Improving the Quality of Drawings, Specifications and Bidding Documents

Online /
Dec 9 - 11, 2024 /
Course Code: 15-1204-ONL24

The confirmation of this course depends on early registration; Register early to avoid the postponement or cancellation of a course.
  • Overview
  • Syllabus
  • Instructor


Please note, This instructor-led course has specific dates and times:
This course is held online over 3 days on the following schedule (All times in Eastern Time Zone):

10:00 am to 6:00 pm Eastern Time

After participating in this course, you will be able to:

  • Improve communications and design-review procedures
  • Implement quality enhancement measures in the production of construction documents
  • Improve the quality of design, bidding and construction documents
  • Integrate a checking process into the production of construction documents
  • Avoid future errors in the communication of construction information and prevent claims

One of the crucial means for controlling construction costs and reducing claims is to keep change orders and costs to a minimum. This can be achieved by exercising greater care during the preparation of design, bidding and construction documents; ensuring the viability of design; improving the quality of working drawings and specifications; and being wary of the common causes of claims leading to cost overruns.

This practical program explains where we are now, where we want to go and how to get there. The program prepares you to focus on design and production control, the review and evaluation of contract documents, and the bidding and contract award process.

Who Should Attend
Designers • Architects • Engineers • Professionals • Project Managers • Planners • Contractors • Owners • Government, Institutional and Private Sector Owners • Construction Personnel

More Information

Time: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Eastern Time

Please note: You can check other time zones here.


Day I The Problems: Where Are We Now?

Welcome, Introduction, Workshop Preview, Learning Outcomes and the Assessment Method


  • Scope of program-types of facilities
  • Industry trends that give rise to major concerns
  • Scale of losses resulting from changes and claims
  • Stages of a project-architectural and engineering
  • Components of the bidding documents
  • Recent claims-weaknesses in the documents?
  • Project delivery methods-their impact

Legal Issues

  • Consultants’ liability
  • Owners’ liability
  • Contractors’ liability

Contracts-A Synopsis

  • Contract forms
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Client/consultant agreements
  • Special consultants-their roles
  • Owner/contractor agreements
  • Contractor/subcontractor agreements

Inconsistencies In the Documents-An Owner's Perspective

  • Where do they start?
  • What do owners expect from their consultants?
  • Project initiation
  • Planning and design stages
  • Cost planning and cost control
  • Document preparation and bidding stages
  • What do owners expect from contractors/subcontractors
  • Construction stages
  • Construction modifications

Difficulties In Producing the Documents- A Consultants Point of View - What Are They?

  • What do consultants expect from owners
  • Project Team-Owner/Consultants
  • The process of preparing drawings and specifications
  • Cost planning and control
  • Coordination with owner requirements
  • Coordination with authorities
  • Coordination with consultants
  • Computer-aided design and drafting

Shortcomings in the Documents- A Contractor's Point of View

  • In the bidding documents
  • During the contract award
  • In the "issued for construction" documents
  • Instructions issued during construction
  • Claims from contractors resulting from imperfect documents

Reasons Why Change Orders and Delay Claims Happen

  • Owner caused
  • Design team caused
  • Construction team caused
  • As Found conditions
  • Authorities having jurisdiction
  • Logging of changes

Open Forum-Questions and Answers

Day II Setting Objectives: Where Do We Want to Go?

Avoid Problems - Drawings

  • But first-what are they?
  • Demolition
  • Architectural and landscaping
  • Civil and structural
  • Mechanical and electrical
  • Specialty trades

Avoid Problems - Specifications
Here are some for discussion

  • Supplemental conditions
  • Instructions to bidders
  • Bid form(s)
  • Trade sections
  • Coordination between sections/between drawings and specifications

Avoid Problems - Bidding Documents
Most have legal implications

  • Supplementary conditions
  • Invitation to bid
  • Instructions to Bidders
  • Bid forms and attachments/alternate, identified, separate, unit prices, allowances
  • Bid security forms
  • Information available to Bidders
  • Inquiries-pre bid briefings
  • Addenda

Avoid Problems - Construction Costs: Cost Planning and Cost Control

  • Conceptual versus actual estimates
  • Cost limit established
  • First cost plan prepared
  • Cost checks made through design development and preparation of drawings and specifications
  • Identifying critical cost control measures
  • Document review for major cost-impact items
  • Final estimate and cost check (pre-bid estimate)

Cost Control During Bidding and Construction

  • General contractor selection
  • Assessing the often-unknown impact of the marketplace
  • Cost analysis of bid
  • Cost-saving exercises
  • Assessing substitutions
  • Assessing the schedule of values and construction schedule
  • Cost control of delays and changes

Selection of Professionals- Consultants and Contractors

  • Excellence is the objective
  • Prequalification
  • Approaches/direct selection, invited, open competitions
  • Request for proposals/responses
  • Interviews/reactions
  • Evaluation criteria

Owner Assessments of Documents

  • Costs contingencies
  • Design and document reviews-creating an effective process
  • QA and /or QC requirements
  • Contract modifications during construction
  • Use of project site representative and/or construction manager

Open Forum - Questions and Answers

The Day III program is entitled "Evolving New Protocols" for improving the quality of construction documents. In preparation for day three, attendees will be divided into 3 teams. Each team will be responsible for compiling a list of improvements for quality assurance and quality control procedures which the team believes should be implemented by owners and consultants.

For this exercise, assume that such protocols are not already in place

  • Team A - Planning and design
  • Team B - Drawings and specifications
  • Team C - Bidding, contract award and contract modifications

Each team will be asked to give a 15-minute presentation on Day III.

Day III Evolving New Protocols: How Do We Get There? Who Does What?

Workshop Presentations and Related Discussions
(Program Participants)

  • Team A
  • Team B
  • Team C

Planning and Design Stages-Being Right from the Start

  • Concepts that need to be understood by the entire design team before the first line is drawn
  • Coordination between design team members
  • Use of checklists integrated into the design/contract document quality assurance programs
  • Importance of design development
  • Client signoffs at each design stage

Working Drawings - New Approaches and Better Uses of Those We Already Have

  • Starting point-approved design development documents
  • Evolving a systematic internal review process
  • Creating a team review process; 60%, 90%, 100%
  • Incorporating design changes at this stage
  • Involving project managers and field administration personnel from the early stages
  • Increased interference studies and related coordination
  • Study the difficult details first, typically after
  • Third-party reviews
  • Client signoffs

Specifications and Bidding Requirements - Consistency A Must

  • Integrated drawing and specification systems
  • Use of the internet for product selection
  • Specification binders
  • Meeting client’s scheduling requirements

Bidding, Contract Award and Construction Modifications

  • Ensuring that the bidding period proceeds smoothly
  • Evaluating bids effectively
  • Preparing the contract correctly
  • Using the preconstruction meeting to advantage
  • Issuing supplemental instructions clearly
  • Reviewing quotations and time changes fairly

Partnering - A Concept for Success

  • What is it?
  • How is it implemented?
  • Why a charter?
  • Is the concept effective?

Summary - Keywords
A list of keywords, phrases and concepts which evolved from this program will be assembled during the last 30 minutes of the program

Construction Management - Overview of Construction Claims & Disputes

  • Contractor Claims vs Owners
  • 4 major causes for claims
  • Burden of Proof
  • Damages
  • Claims & Project Delivery Methods
  • Claims Preparation & Analysis
  • Dispute Resolution Methods

Early Warning Signs of Construction Claims & Disputes

  • Bid & Proposal Stage
  • Early Construction Phase
  • Construction Phase
  • Early Warning Signs for Owners
  • Claims by Contractors
  • Claim Documents
  • Claims by Owners
  • Construction Risk Areas

Avoiding Claims - Best Practices

  • Best Practices for Owners
  • Best Practices for Consultants
  • Best Practices for Contractors

Questions and Answers and Feedback to Participants on Achievement of Learning Outcomes

Concluding Remarks and Final Adjournment


Martin Gerskup, B. Arch, OAA, MAIBC and MRAIC

Martin has over 35 years of experience and is the president of BEST Consultants Martin Gerskup Architect Inc. He specializes in the field of investigative architecture and building science with particular emphasis on the resolution of problems affecting the building envelope. Martin is a member of the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) and has served in various capacities on the Ontario Building Envelope Council (OBEC) Board of Directors from 1991 to 1997.

He was president of OBEC from 1993 to 1994, a member of the council for the OAA from 2003 to 2005, and a member of the ULC Thermal Insulation Committee. During his tenure on the council at the OAA, Mr. Gerskup was Chair of the Discipline Committee while also serving on the following committees: Practice Committee, Registration Committee, Public Interest Review Committee, Communications Committee, and the University Liaison Task Group.

In addition to authoring and presenting many technical papers on the subject of building science, Mr. Gerskup taught as an assistant adjunct professor and tutor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design from 1999 to 2001 and at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Ryerson University in 2002.

The Engineering Institute of Canada

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Fee & Credits

$1995 + taxes

  • 2.1 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • 21 Continuing Professional Development Hours (PDHs/CPDs)
  • ECAA Annual Professional Development Points

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