It is no secret that public works construction is a difficult business. On any given project there are innumerable ways that things can go wrong. With any project involving excavation and underground utilities, encountering changed conditions should not be a surprise. Of course, such changed conditions are not the contractor’s responsibility. What is the contractor’s responsibility, however, is providing the public owner with proper notice of its claims in accordance with the subject agreement.
One of the reasons public works construction projects are more onerous than their private counterparts is because public owners rarely negotiate contract terms. Contracts that are slanted significantly in the public owner’s favor are the norm. Thus, as the contractor in a recent state Supreme Court decision learned, it is vitally important to read the contract and abide by its terms.
One of the lessons from Old Colony Cosntr., LLC v. Town of Southington, 316 Conn. 202 (Conn. April 21, 2015) is that general assertions of entitlement to damages and/or additional contract time is not sufficient when the contract requires more detail. During the long duration of the project, the contractor in Old Colony repeatedly indicated that each problem that occurred impacted its schedule and costs.