Shop Drawings

steve66

Senior Member
So we put a small project out for bid. I specified a package with Brand A light fixtures, with some having Brand B equals.

For some of the lights, I just put "other pre-approved equal" for the second manufacturer.

The shop drawings come in, and they are using Brand C, with some other smaller manufacturers for a few of the lights.

For the most part, these fixtures seem to be equal to the fixtures I had specified. Normally, when contractors want to use another brand, they will send us cut sheets, and we may or may not approve them as equals by issuing an addendum. But that didn't happen on this project. There weren't any requests for substitutions made.

So I'm just wondering what others would do. Reject them and tell them they need to use the specified fixtures? Or go ahead and approve these lights since they are pretty much the same thing as specified?

Our front end spec has a lot of detail on substitutions, so I'm sure I can reject them if I want to. But I'm more inclined to let it go. After all, I probably would have approved these if they had asked during bidding. But I wonder if its fair to the owner and/or other bidders to approve these after the contract has been awarded.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
But I wonder if its fair to the owner and/or other bidders to approve these after the contract has been awarded.
What would be unfair about approving them? What is the detriment to the customer? What is given up in the trade?

In other words, what about the substitutions makes them inferior? How will using them create a loss of value?
 

MAC702

Senior Member
Location
Clark County, NV
What would be unfair about approving them? What is the detriment to the customer? What is given up in the trade?

In other words, what about the substitutions makes them inferior? How will using them create a loss of value?
How about the time it takes to determine that it's acceptable? The bidder just assumes the specifier should do this without even asking?
 
If this is a market you'll be doing more business in, I'd definitely reject and require them to provide as specified. Otherwise, that company will never submit pre-approvals again because they know they can get away without 'em, and then they'll start sliding in more and more inferior products. Also, if this project was competitive bid, other lighting reps in the area may be able to cry "foul" for allowing substitutions that didn't follow the bidding rules.
 

MAC702

Senior Member
Location
Clark County, NV
Isn't this taken into consideration when the rules for substitution are laid out?
Not when the proposed substitutions are made during the bid instead of as a request prior to the bids needing to be compared to one another without extra effort. The whole point is that the substitution is NOT being proposed in accordance with the rules.

If the bid is good enough and the substitutions are good enough to warrant the extra effort after the time expected for such extra effort, that's up to the one making the choice, but it's bad manners in the least on the part of the bidder.

And whether or not there is recourse available, other bidders would certainly have a legitimate beef to be upset. They, too, may have been able to have a better bid with a substitute that they didn't feel they had time to ask about.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
I would not let this go without causing the contractor at least a modicum of pain. I would at least require the contractor to submit cut sheets of their proposed components, along with a "financial disclosure." By that I mean a statement of the cost of Brand C products, as compared to the costs of Brands A and B. If the contractor gets a significant savings by using Brand C, then the owner should benefit by a partial credit for some of the difference.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
The whole point is that the substitution is NOT being proposed in accordance with the rules.
In this case, the bidder should shoulder any cost of approving substitutions.

And whether or not there is recourse available, other bidders would certainly have a legitimate beef to be upset. They, too, may have been able to have a better bid with a substitute that they didn't feel they had time to ask about.
Agreed here, too. If a certain product is specified, I must provide it, but I am allowed to shop for the best price for said product.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
I would at least require the contractor to submit cut sheets of their proposed components, along with a "financial disclosure." By that I mean a statement of the cost of Brand C products, as compared to the costs of Brands A and B. If the contractor gets a significant savings by using Brand C, then the owner should benefit by a partial credit for some of the difference.
I'm on the fence here. I see both sides, but feel I should be the one to benefit from my shopping efforts, as long as the substitution meets legitimate product specs the original selection was based on, and the customer approves.

If anything, it behooves me to show the customer why a substitution is better for them, despite the cost savings.
 

steve66

Senior Member
How about the time it takes to determine that it's acceptable? The bidder just assumes the specifier should do this without even asking?
That is a good point, although in a way, Larry is right that I would have spent time reviewing any substitutions. And I actually saved time because I didn't have to go looking for equals. They were basically handed to me.

I see Charlie's point about not making it to easy for the contractor. But that would probably take more of my time, and I'm not sure it would really accomplish anything.

It is a different area than we normally work in - even out of state.

I'm on the fence also.
 

MAC702

Senior Member
Location
Clark County, NV
I completely agree with the possible benefits of the substitution. The only concern here is that the request for substitution was not made prior to bidding, and during the time the specifier requested for substitutes to be requested and approved, but just put in there anyway, after that time period that the specifier may have desired to do research on such substitutions.

Did the bid make a point of showing it as a substitution, or was it just put in there and it was on the customer to even notice it was a substitution?
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
I would not let this go without causing the contractor at least a modicum of pain. I would at least require the contractor to submit cut sheets of their proposed components, along with a "financial disclosure." By that I mean a statement of the cost of Brand C products, as compared to the costs of Brands A and B. If the contractor gets a significant savings by using Brand C, then the owner should benefit by a partial credit for some of the difference.
Would you take the contractor's word, how would you vet the numbers?
 

sameguy

Senior Member
Location
New York
So you left the bid open to, or equal.
Now your pissing, go look up the fixture is it or equal? If your too lazy request cuts from the bidder, perhaps they found you're new spec. fixtures for other jobs. Why do you need to now what I pay for a fixture if my bid is lowest?
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
This is kind of not fair if there is a significant savings over brands A and B.

Not fair to the other bidders

Not fair to the people that need to review brand C when they probably already know brands A and B

It could be not fair to the owner

It should make somebody pay closer attention to this company.

I know a guy that operates this way. He uses the technicalities of contracts to provide equipment that he fabs (and not too well) instead of providing the equipment that the owner obviously wanted. He spends a lot of time in court. Heck of a way to make a living, and his company has been banned from properties and bidding any work on those properties.

Edit: He was in a different trade, not electrical.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
That is a good point, although in a way, Larry is right that I would have spent time reviewing any substitutions. And I actually saved time because I didn't have to go looking for equals. They were basically handed to me.

I see Charlie's point about not making it to easy for the contractor. But that would probably take more of my time, and I'm not sure it would really accomplish anything.

It is a different area than we normally work in - even out of state.

I'm on the fence also.
I'd make them to the "request for substitution" dance, especially if the process is spelled out in the specs. As others have said, don't let them get complacent or you'll have to chase them for compliance on every little detail. Part of the substitution process should be review and approval by the customer. That's at least so you don't get left holding the bag if the substitute product doesn't work out.
 

oldsparky52

Senior Member
I'd make them to the "request for substitution" dance, especially if the process is spelled out in the specs. As others have said, don't let them get complacent or you'll have to chase them for compliance on every little detail. Part of the substitution process should be review and approval by the customer. That's at least so you don't get left holding the bag if the substitute product doesn't work out.
Don't you think he will be holding the bag no matter what documentation is obtained? If the spec clearly called out brands A and B, then to me that's what should be supplied.

I just reread the OP and, well, I'm a fence sitter too.
 

steve66

Senior Member
So you left the bid open to, or equal.
Now your pissing, go look up the fixture is it or equal? If your too lazy request cuts from the bidder, perhaps they found you're new spec. fixtures for other jobs. Why do you need to now what I pay for a fixture if my bid is lowest?


No, it wasn't left open. Contractors that wished to make substitutions were supposed to provide cut sheets along with a request for the substitution to be approved. That was supposed to happen during bidding, but it didn't.

There is no way to know, but I suspect the difference in price is probably pretty minor. If I asked how much they saved, I'll bet the contractor would say "These were actually more expensive, but I like this supplier because blah blah blah..."

I'd make them to the "request for substitution" dance, especially if the process is spelled out in the specs. As others have said, don't let them get complacent or you'll have to chase them for compliance on every little detail. Part of the substitution process should be review and approval by the customer. That's at least so you don't get left holding the bag if the substitute product doesn't work out.
I think that's a pretty good idea, even though bidding is over. At least they would have to admit its a substitution, and maybe even sweat a little. And it would also be a minor pain to the contractor, which Charlie suggested.

On a side note, this contractor also sent an entire catalog of electrical boxes as a submittal. No indication of what they are going to use, just sent a catalog.
 
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