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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am removing asphalt from a road. The plans don't specify a depth of existing and the pay item is per SY removal. I usually figure existing to be 4 to 6 inches when it doesn't specify. I am running into asphalt that is 8 to 12 inches thick. How do I present this to the owner? Obviously it is taking additional trucking time, machine time, and we are using a breaker when typically we wouldn't. I am confident in my additional cost calculations - my question is how to present it to the owner (a municipality) without getting it on the defensive.
 

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First off, introduce yourself, and add a location to your profile.

As far as your question. Im assuming you bid this project. Looks like you bid the job by the square yard. Therefore, I would think your stuck on the price. You bid the same project specs as everyone else. Chalk it up to a learning experience
 

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A Public Works job(municipality) should have a job spec book with language that would cover unseen site conditions. The spec book, bid documents or plans should have noted the asphalt thickness. In your proposal were there any place to list additional costs for removal usually a fixed cy/sy price. Did the bid documents indicate anywhere that the contractor is to verify site conditions? Any way, submit an RFI (Request for information) noting the unforseen site conditions. They should in turn issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) for the up charge. City/County jobs are generally run by the Public Works Director or City/County Engineer. Talk to them but to keep the paperwork right usually the RFI/RFP process is followed. At least in my experience in the wonderful Golden State.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The spec book does cover unforeseen conditions and I will cite that in making the City aware of the condition. More and more it seems that these agencies are leaving out existing asphalt depth on the prints for this reason. They more than likely will come back with a response that "depth is not noted on the prints". It becomes a matter of what was reasonably expected at the time of bidding and around these parts, 4 to 6 inches of existing is reasonable. I will submit the RFI and make them aware that an accounting of the additional expenses incurred will be submitted once removal is completed. This will be by Force Account method.
Thanks for your response!
 

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most plans/specs i've seen....there's a phrase something to the effect..."contractor shall familiarize himself with conditions of the project prior to bidding"....if you were low bid, might be a reason. maybe the other bidders knew something, made themselves aware of that you didn't...i think you're stuck. the pay item apparently says square yd...not cubic yard, or ton.
 

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Most jobs have a mandatory job walk. This would be the time to ask about site conditions and how the owner intends to deal with unforseen conditions. In the absence of a job walk when you pick up the bid documents there should be contact info for questions. The loop hole of the contractor should familarize himself is great if you have a crystal ball. I haven't been able to find one.
 

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The loop hole of the contractor should familarize himself is great if you have a crystal ball. I haven't been able to find one.
had i been one of the bidders that had familiarized myself with the contract, (my town is small enough......i read all public notices)....and were the engineer/architect award somebody i bid against a change order for asphalt thickness.....myself and i know all my competition would ride them like the first hooker a cowboy sees on the street corner after being on the range for a couple of months.... change orders equate paperwork/costs for an engineer/architect...whether they approve them or not. i'd shove change orders at them everyday, for everytime the temperature changed 3 degrees. sure, they'll deny them, but will still cost them money for every one they process....MB, sorry you got caught....happens to all of us!!! times like that, you just have to go back and lay in the corner and lick your wounds and write it off as a learning experience and know better the next time.
 

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Dayexco. I agree RFI's, RFP's & change orders are a royal PITA. However they are a legitimate way of doing business. So if you bid a job and estimate asphalt at 4-6"
and at site you find 12" you just eat it? And I thought California was a screwed up place to work.
 

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what's screwed up? it was my obligation as a bidder to make myself familiar with job site conditions. cities change engineers as fast as we change underwear. they probably have less of a clue than you or i as to the thickness of the asphalt. it becomes our responsibility to make ourselves aware of what's there....that's no doubt why he bid it at the sq. yd. vs. ton or cubic yard...
i been at this for 29 years....my dad started in 47...and i get peed off at contractors who low ball bids...in hopes of change ordering them up to where they need to be to make a profit. my contention is they need to know what they're bidding on, and what it's going to cost.
 

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We actually just encountered the same thing at my job. Instead of 6" thick, the asphalt was 15-17" thick and we submitted a change order. We bid the removal of asphalt in SY but in the proposal for the line we always put in up to whatever thickness we feel is necessary. In this case our line item states up to 6" thick. So we hit them with the extra asphalt removal as well as a CO for installing an extra 15 loads of RCA to rebuild the area to grade.
 

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Dayexco, I did not mean to offend you. We are actually on the same page. I do not advocate or believe in low balling bids and then make it up w/change orders. I agree bidders should be familar with site conditions and what to expect. My point is that if site conditions differ substantially from the bid documents you have the means available to submit a change order. It would be very difficult for anyone to know all the site conditions at any job they bid. You sound just like my excavating contractor. Cheers Griz:thumbsup:
 

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no, it's up to me to apologize...i get old and crusty...my son tells me i get like the SNL skit where the old fart goes...."we liked it, we LOVED it"....carry on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Don't you think determining the depth of asphalt is beyond a reasonable expectation for a contractor? This is why they have a provision in the specs for unforeseen conditions. Subsurface conditions are next to impossible to clarify prior to a bid. My thinking is if the owner knew - he would have put it in the plans and specs. He left it open because he thinks that's a way out. If I complained about there being 16 trees to remove instead of 5 I thought I saw on the print, I would agree that I am out of luck - the trees are there for all to see. Short of a Geo Tech report - and even that sometimes doesn't designate asphalt depth, there is no way of knowing subsurface conditions. This is a public works bid - no one, in the thirty years of doing this business, has set up traffic control, brought out a saw and demo hammer, removed a section of asphalt, then patch it back - just to determine depth of existing. First of all, you need proper permits to set up a cone in the road. It just doesn't happen that way.
 

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I don't know how formal a bid process you went through but if there was a prebid meeting or RFI's were submitted before the bid you need to know whether this possibility was addressed. If not, it can't hurt to try. From a leverage perspective I'd think you'd want to try before you've done a substantial percentage of the removal. You could well be stuck, but with a little luck you find more normal conditions on the rest of the job.
 

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i'll just tell you this, had i bid against you, you won.....and the architect, engineer were to start granting change orders....i'd be the cowboy that'd been out on the range for a couple of months, and the engineer would be the timid little lass on the street corner.
 

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Saw or demo hammer? Ive seen an arrow board and core drill used plenty of times to determine depth of asphalt. Maybe they were just a mirage?
 

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If you did not have a clause in your bid stating limitations of depth, then you are SOL and must finish the job with you tail between your legs.

I seriously cannot believe that somebody would go into a job bidding based on an assumption. You placed yourself into this position. Suck it up and chalk it up for experience. You as the bidder are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the site. Next time, take a core sample for yourself.
 
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