Should a mechanic’s lien be reduced for back charges caused by ambiguous drawings?
A general contractor or sub not only bases their estimate upon the accuracy of drawings and specifications, but the whole logistical scheme, including preparation, manpower, ordering of materials and supplies, and the sequencing on the job. It is no wonder that this causes havoc when those plans are ambiguous and the project engineer or architect insists on a number of change orders. But how does this affect one’s right to a mechanic’s lien for unpaid services?
If a judge or arbitrator finds the plans are truly ambiguous and drafted by someone other than the contractor, and the contractor did his or her estimate based upon a reasonable interpretation, then any changes would be the responsibility of the owner or design professional. In such cases, the claimed extras could be included in the mechanic’s lien.
But how is it determined which change orders will receive additional compensation? Many times the design professional claims the changes are required under the base contract and no extra compensation will be paid. What a court or arbitrator does is go through each one and see if they were caused by an ambiguity. One by one, change order by change order, a decision is made.
But why go through this uncertain torture? At the very least, there should be a contract revision which states:
Sample Clause: “Contractor shall not be responsible for errors, omissions, or ambiguities in drawings, plans, or specifications prepared by others. If any such uncertainty exists, the contractor is entitled to base its contract upon a reasonable interpretation under industry standards, which shall be considered the binding provisions between the parties in any subsequent court or arbitration proceeding, as well as whether or not any work is deemed an extra.”https://www.nationallienlaw.com/wp-admin/edit.php