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Discussion Starter #1
I've been working this major renovation latley in VAncouver. Basically it's a complete gut from what used to be a restaurant, to another restaurant, but the building needs some serious work. It SHOULD be a building that gets knockd down, but because many years ago when this building was built in the 1920's it used to be a gas station with service bays and there is all this enviornmental crap that goes along with you choosing to demolish a building instead of reno it, they have elected to reno what is there. So there have been a lot of hiccups along the way.

Basically the owner of the buidling also owns a construction company that does high end houses. Now there is a big difference between a high end house, and a commercial job. Commercial jobs you can not just ram changes through, and EVERYTHING is inspected, and there are always mechanical & electrical prints. Unlike houses where the plumber has to use the code and the architectual prints to design their system.

So the owner of the construction company, who if I'm not mistaken will also end up being the owner of the restaurant, has this attitude already preconceived- that he can just ram things through and that the engineer will do whatever he wants done and sign off on everything over the inspectors head, of which the inspector will not tolerate and the inspector has already told me the plumber should make certain calls and not the engineer.

Well a few mistakes have been made along the way. First off, previously the owner hired for some reason another contractor instead of using his own contracting company, and they got caught 3 times by the city working without permits. That's not a good relationship to set up with the city inspectors.

And aside from all the issues with the permits, it has been a MAJOR PITA. The restaurant is also affilliated with an emerging restaurant chain in Western Canada and the parts of the states (won't name it for obvious reasons). The owner of this chain makes all sorts of changes as he visits more and more restaurants and gets bigger and bigger ideas. This is fine, if you are contracted and doing Time and Materials work, but we have a strict quote based on a set of plans.

So since I have been on this job I noticed a few things

1) Sets of prexisting plans, several of them, with several different designs on the site.

2) Related to the above, there have been a few more more plan changes and revisions, and rewrites to date since we've been on site.

3) the contractor seems to think that he doesn't need to read the contract scope of work.

The scope of work states that we, the plumbers, do not do civil work/excavating. A bit of fine tuning/grading, sure that's fine, but the heavy duty excavactoin is not what we are do. My boss says we are plumbers, and we will install plumbing and that's it.

And our job is to install what is based on the pages xxx of the mechanical plans.

Well the Engineer is on T & M.

A few gripes worth noting.

I have had to pull off the site 3 times, and each time I pull off the site I give them a written list of demands that I need to be met before I return. The last list included my supervisors phone# and my supervisor told me that I am not going back to that site until the list of demands is met and they can deal with him (my supervisor) if they have any questions. But they keep on calling me. The first time I told the contractor to call my supervisor. The next several phone calls I ignored.

Most of my demands were engineering related - plans, details, backflow preventer lists, etc. The engineer is also calling me, of which I am also ignoring him. Finally the engineer calls the office and talks to another one of my bosses and my boss authorizes me to phone him despite the arrangement in my demands. So I have this half an hour conversation with the engineer on backflow preventers. I have the PNWA cross connections manual, this guy does not for some reason, yet he is an engineering? A bloody mechanical engineering who had his ring made out of a failed, local bridge? (maybe that's why). The engineer is asking me to fax him certain things, of which I say I'll try, but I Don't have the time of day and they are things he can easily acquire with a few phone calls.

Also, there had to be a change I had to make to the original plans- I had to move a big grease interceptor from where it was shown on the plans to another area because in the area it was listed, it absolutely would not work. So I do the move, and I tell the engineer why and he is cool with it over the phone. But then the city/inspector wants these drawn up to reflect this change in location and so while I am pulled off the site, the contractor calls me and leaves a message asking if I can come to the site and do a set of as built drawings for the engineer. Um, excuse me? We are on a strict quote to install what was on the plans, while the engineering is billing time (mostly time) and materials. Why am I being asked to do a set of as built drawings just so the engineer can re-do his drawings because his original ones didn't work with the logistics on site?

So anyways, we had a meeting last week and me and my supervisor are on site to meet with all the people who run the restaurant chain who have influence on the design along with the contractor big bossses. I am there and ready for the typical list of empty promises that my demands have been met somehow, and my supervisor has the same expectations. So I don't recall saying much in all honesty, in the entire meeting. Yet somehow my boss gets an email today saying that "the plumber/pipefitter you have working on your site at the last meeting is overly aggressive and not very helpful and the staff at xxx chain request he no longer be present on site."

I have been told repeatedly, especially now that times are tough, that you are an installer- get in, and get out - do what we agreed to, and that's it, no more.

There is something about people who I know are blowhards - I can not look a blowhard in the eye, because I know that I"m the type of person who when I say I am going to do something, I do it. When I work on a site with people who can't read the contract, nor do they respect the agreement they signed, it really reflects in my attitude. To a certain extent I got into this for the $$$ because it is a decent profession that way, but I value people so much more then that, that I'll work for less if I get to work with good, honest people, contractors, bosses, coworkers, and otherwise. That is the reward. This site destroys my motivation. But because of my experience in restaurants lately, I am told constantly I'm the best guy for the job.

So I'm going back there tommorrow... and we'll see what happens.

But what I think will end up happening is we will sick this guy on them in the company I work for who is exceptionally good at working with contractors like this. He's sort of the bloodhound who is extremely good at dealing with contractors who pull BS like this. He knows how to look at the ground and have tunnel vision and all those things. He knows how to ask pointed, questions, that really show how little he cares about you and only about getting the bare minimum done to get the plumbing done and get out of there. My supervisor kept telling me to think like him- but perhaps the imitation isn't good enough - they might be getting the real thing....
 

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I see a couple problems. You moved the grease trap from the original plan location without a change order and an updated plan drawing. Your boss didn't enforce the list of demands and sold you out by making you call the guy back. Sounds like your taking it from both ends.......You 4 guys need to have a meeting and discuss it in person. The Contractor,the engineer,your boss and yourself. Sit down and talk about it. Take a small tape recorder and slip it in your jacket,now you have a reference to what was said and who said it and if things get really rotten you have good evidence for court. here its legal to record a conversation made in person without anyone being notified. Check the laws in your country!!!! Hope this helps calm you down!!! Relax man!! I hope things workout for you! let me know!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I see a couple problems. You moved the grease trap from the original plan location without a change order and an updated plan drawing. Your boss didn't enforce the list of demands and sold you out by making you call the guy back. Sounds like your taking it from both ends.......You 4 guys need to have a meeting and discuss it in person. The Contractor,the engineer,your boss and yourself. Sit down and talk about it. Take a small tape recorder and slip it in your jacket,now you have a reference to what was said and who said it and if things get really rotten you have good evidence for court. here its legal to record a conversation made in person without anyone being notified. Check the laws in your country!!!! Hope this helps calm you down!!! Relax man!! I hope things workout for you! let me know!
Moving the grease trap wasn't such a big deal when I explained it to the engineer over the phone. It was the city who requested a set of as built plans to reflect the change though. Moving the grease trap did not require any additional material, in fact it probably saved us material, and made things easier.
 

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All commercial plans here need to be approved by the health department,so if you make a major change then you need to submit the plan for review. Moving the grease trap to a new location is a mojor change. What if you installed the grease trap and then the engineer says....."The man is crazy I never told him to move the grease trap and the plans reflect what he is to do" Then what? Your dead in the water thats what,you would be moving it for free back to its planned location. Sounds like you have too many sets of plans. i'd stop work until i received an updated set and if any thing gets changed and if I'm not notified then any mistakes are YOUR fault and will be billed to re-do any work
 

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Any changes are to be in writing from the architect//engineer.

Not:
Verbally
From the building owner
From the inspector
From the site supervisor

There is a chain of command that CANNOT be broken in commercial construction. All roads lead to the architect/engineer.

I feel you were being difficult. It doesn't surprise me that you were asked not to return. That is also usually in the contract that the architect can remove people from the job if they are being a PIA.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
OH I was difficult for one particular meeting because my enthusiasm for the site has gone down hill significantly recently, but up until that point I was bending over backwards to get it done and help where I could. But my boss showed up on site one day and stressed to me that we are to get in, and get out, and make the engineer do his job. He stressed that I am JUST an installer on this job.

The problem is these guys have the engineer on T & M obviously, we do not have that luxury as we quoted the job. But they are trying to get me to do the Engineers job in a lot of cases. That is a lack of respect and in my eyes equivocal attempting to steal from us, and saving themselves money a our expense.

I like commercial construction because it is supposed to be cut and dry. If it says it on your contract, or in the plans/specifications, it's your responsibility. There are defined lines. And everything is inspected, there is no backdoor deals or "install it after the inspector leaves." You are not talking about one particular family with things that could go wrong, but a business that makes money, on top of several people who frequent it who could get blown up, or sick. The inspectors take these jobs more seriously, and there tends to be a lot more technical plumbing on commercial jobs, especially restaurants.

When a company can not read the contract, or know the chain of command as far as who does what, it makes them look like a bunch of hacks, and that is my opinion of the contractors, period.

LIke I said, the contracting company mainly does high end houses apparently, where these types of things to satisfy the extremely wealthy customers despite the inspector, happen a lot, and it is something you learn to live with in some cases. But not on commercial sites, and not on strict quotes, especially strict quotes where you now must be extremely competitive to win jobs versus a few years ago when jobs fell on your lap.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just to add - the reason I had to move the grease interceptor was NOT an aesthetic thing. Where it was shown on the plans, I would have to undermine temporary structure supporting a mezzanine. At the time, the Sanitary at the building line also did not allow much grade, and this was another reason I had to move it - so the piping runs weren't as long, allowing me to work with the grade of the Sanitary building drain. Turns out they have lots of grade to work with out to the city line, plus the city has requested new connections for the sanitary and storm so that is a non issue, but the issue of undermining the temprorary structure in the mezzanine area still remained, and many things had to happen before this temporary structure could be removed for something permanent, which meant if I wanted to get things done (something obviously someone who wants to open a restaurant open asap appreciates), I still had to move the gresae interceptor. T?his is one example of how I USED to bend over backwards on this site.

If I could go back and redo it knowing what I know now, I would have walked off the site immediately and told the engineer to sort it out and get back to us with answers in writing after the issue presented itself.

I've never run into a commercial site that is this much of a problem. The contractor representative on site is seriously overwhelmed and has even told me this on several occassions and he's a guy who has apparenlt had many years in the trade and done dozens of restaurants in the past, and he refers to this site as the worst site he's ever worked on. When the contractor is preaching lack of confidence, something you rarely hear (as opposed to a guy who is overly confident which seems to be a lot of contractors I run into), it says a lot of things.
 
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