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Obligations of a Contract

contractor, plant, contractors, supplies, organization, furnish and payments

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OBLIGATIONS OF A CONTRACT Lump Sum Contracts Under the usual lump sum form of contract, the owneragrees to furnish the following: 1. Money.

2. Plans and specifications.

3. General instructions, stakes, and layout.

The contractor furnishes : 1. Labor.

2. Materials.

3. Plant.

4. Supplies.

5. Organization.

6. Superintendence.

7. Experience.

8. Insurance, as to time.

9. Insurance, as to cost.

It will be noted that the owner furnishes something which is usually definite, and the proof of the furnishing of which is usually easy. By the dates on the checks or on the receipts, it is entirely feasible to establish just when the owner made the advance payments, and there is rarely much trouble as to whether or not the owner furnished a sufficiency of plans and speci fications, stakes, and general instructions for the work, although at least one instance is on record of a lawsuit arising in which one of the principal grounds of contention was that the owner did not furnish a sufficiency of plans to enable the contractor to proceed.

While it is easy to establish the dates at which the owner has made payments, and their amounts, trouble may arise on a contract because the owner refuses to make payments, claiming that he is justified in withholding money, on the ground of something that the contractor has done. Now, the contractor, in furnishing each of the above nine items of value, supplies some thing which is not a definite medium of exchange, which cannot be specified with absolute preci sion, and the cost of which to the contractor may not be the same when he is ready to use it as it was when he signed the contract. Therefore the chances for misunderstanding as to the con tractor's performance are very much greater than the chances as to the owner's performance; and this fact ought to be borne in mind by all owners, contractors, and architects, not only in preparing the contract, but in using ordinary common sense in its interpretation afterward.

Plant. The items of labor and materials have already been discussed. Plant is a factor in which there is a wide range of variation in efficiency and cost and in general adaptability to different kinds of work. A contractor who

has a small business of considerable variety must have a plant which is as adaptable as possible to different classes of work, so that when he fin ishes one piece of work of a certain type he can put the same plant on another piece of work of a different type without any large loss of effi ciency. Such a plant will not operate as efficiently as one which is adapted to but one kind of work and which is made especially for that work. It therefore behooves the owner, be fore entering into a contract, to consider in gen eral what sort of plant the contractor owns, which he intends to use on the particular work in hand.

Supplies, such as coal, oil, dynamite, etc., which are consumed in carrying on the work and which do not remain as part of the finished struc ture, do not particularly concern the owner as to their quality or amount; but they will have a considerable effect upon the contractor's effi ciency. If they are not of proper quality, delays are likely to result, which the contractor may claim are not his fault. This is a danger that the owner has got to run, because it is not advisable for the owner, before signing a contract, to stip ulate much as to the grade of supplies which the contractor is to use. Although there is no theo retical reason why it cannot be done, it would be unusual.

Organization. It is the contractor's duty to furnish the organization on the work—by which is meant the assembling of men of proper train ing to get the work carried on successfully. Some of this organization—namely, the Superin tendent and Foremen—may be regularly carried upon the contractor's pay-rolls, and he may know exactly what they are capable of doing; and the owner may be able to get references as to the contractor's past performances, which will give him to understand just what he can expect from the contractor's employees of these grades. The great bulk of the organization, however, is likely to be engaged at the beginning of each job, and to some extent the owner must take a chance as to the results of this selection.

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