Business Letters for the Construction Industry, A Guide to Construction Communication - Revised Edition

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Here you find over 100 professionally written model letters for virtually every difficult situation. Nothing puts your business in the best possible light better than a well-written letter -- especially when you can use that letter to help a bad situation become better. You'll use these letters over and over again to resolve disputes, win new clients, clarify proposals, coordinate with architects, subcontractors and owners, and insurers, schedule meetings and inspections, respond to complaints and situations that may be difficult to deal with.

Practical, comprehensive collection of model letters for virtually every business need. Includes online access to download templates.

Weight 1.8800
ISBN 978-1-55701-917-2
Page Count 372
Author Andrew Atkinson
Publisher BNI Building News
Dimensions 8-1/2 x 11

Here you find over 100 professionally written model letters for virtually every difficult situation. Nothing puts your business in the best possible light better than a well-written letter -- especially when you can use that letter to help a bad situation become better. You'll use these letters over and over again to resolve disputes, win new clients, clarify proposals, coordinate with architects, subcontractors and owners, and insurers, schedule meetings and inspections, respond to complaints and situations that may be difficult to deal with.

Includes letters responding to threats of legal action, letters of commendation to workers, letters of apology for defective or delayed work, letters for justification of change orders and price increases, letters explaining your insurance liability, letters explaining drug testing, injury at work, overtime, equipment use, job performance, and more.

Practical, comprehensive collection of model letters for virtually every business need. Includes online access to download templates.

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You're reviewing: Business Letters for the Construction Industry, A Guide to Construction Communication - Revised Edition

Table of Contents

Foreword, 4
Introduction, 5
Chapter 1 - Letters to Clients, 13
Chapter 2 - Letters to Field Professionals, 151
Chapter 3 - Industry Support Letters, 275
Chapter 4 - Letters to Personnel, 301
Appendix - Industry Organizations, 361

Introduction

Before you customize your letter, save the original template in a different location so that you always have the original templates unaffected by your editing. On the new letter template, simply turn on the "Show Gridlines" prompt under the "Table" prompt located on the upper screen of your Microsoft Word software. The table gridlines will appear and allow you to insert and edit information. You can also insert your company logo and letterhead by importing it as a text or image file into its allocated table. Always double check your letter for spelling and grammar mistakes. Once done, save the new letter on a dated file system where you can easily trace your correspondence.

COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL

The standard practice is very clear regarding construction communication. The owner communicates directly with the design principal (an architect, engineer, or construction manager), and through the design principal with the contractor. The owner does not communicate in writing directly with the construction inspector, consultants, subcontractor, vendors, or suppliers. Verbal communication between the owner and contractor should be avoided, except when circumstances require additional clarification, and then only in the presence of the design principal. Written communication should always go directly from the owner to the design principal, and from the design principal to the contractor.

The design principal communicates directly with the owner, contractor or more specifically, the contractor's superintendent, the design consultants, and the construction inspector. The design principal does not communicate directly with the subcontractors, or vendors, or suppliers. When circumstances require additional clarification, verbal communications may occur in the presence of the contractor. Written communications should be from the design principal to the contractor and from the contractor to the subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers.

The contractor communicates directly with the design principal and with the contractor's subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers. The contractor communicates with the owner through the design principal, and with the construction inspector through the contractor's superintendent. The contractor does not directly communicate in writing with the design consultants. Verbal communication between the contractor and the design consultants should be avoided except in the presence of the design principal and then only when circumstances require additional clarification.

The construction inspector communicates directly with the design principal and the contractor's superintendent. The inspector does not communicate in writing directly with the owner, design consultants, subcontractors, vendors, or suppliers.

The communication tool, the letter, begins and ends with the main office. Each office should establish standard procedures that will allow letters from all participants to be kept according to its designated project number. Establish a folder system on the early stages of each project. Identify each folder with the name or discipline of the participants (i.e. architect, concrete sub, etc.). Make sure you include electronic communication such as critical e-mails. The file system should be accessible through a network configuration that can be easily obtained from the jobsite's laptop or on a business trip.

PROTOCOL EXCEPTIONS

If the general contractor is acting as a design-build entity and is held responsible for errors of omissions, the contractor can assume the directive reserved for the design principal. This carries serious design liability, and the contractor should demonstrate the knowledge and experience required by designating a licensed design professional in charge of this directive (i.e. a licensed architect hired as the project architect for the job under the contractor's insurance umbrella if the professional is not insured). You should consult your attorney and insurance providers when setting up this type of arrangement.

When the construction inspector is retained by the owner as a permanent or staff employee, the inspector may communicate directly with the owner. In all such instances, the design principal should direct the construction inspector's work and be fully informed of communications concerning it.

The design principal may delegate direct communications between design consultants and construction inspectors or the contractor to expedite the work. Regardless of this delegation, the design principal must be fully informed in writing of all communications. The design principal must approve in writing any actions from communications directly from the direct contractor to the design consultants.

The contractor may specifically or partially delegate direct communications between his subcontractors, vendors, and suppliers and the design principal, design consultants, or the construction inspector. However, such design communications require both the contractor and design professional to be fully informed in writing of any communications, and each must approve in writing any resultant actions.

The owner communicates directly with the contractor concerning legal or contractual matters.

However, the owner should keep the design principal informed in writing of all direct owner to contractor communications and any resulting actions.

Other direct communications between members of the design and construction teams may be made where required by laws or codes; however, all responsible parties should be kept informed in writing.

COMMUNICATION COORDINATION

Written correspondence among the construction participants should be used along with the contract documents. Such correspondence is not as official as the agreement, contract documents, and change orders but is a necessary part of the process and is to be prepared with the same professionalism as the rest of the documents.

Use simple declarative statements and be clear in your intent. Each form of correspondence must include the project name, project number (especially where there might be more than one phase to a project or the potential of future phases), date, and the applicable parties to be involved with the correspondence.

The project name should always be consistent throughout the correspondence and the contract documents, preferably the same title used on the title sheet of the drawings. Where there is any possibility for confusion the name should include sufficient information to differentiate between multiple projects, such as including a building address, phase number, or similar location identifier. Project numbers can also be helpful in verification, although most projects have different numbers for each of the parties involved. For a more professional result, use your company's letterhead showing your logo and company information.

Date each piece of correspondence. Once a subject becomes important enough to require special correspondence, it is possible that the correspondence will result in various possible decisions. Where multiple correspondences exist on one subject, the dates on the correspondence identify which is the most recent decision. Identification of the applicable persons might be as simple as identifying who the correspondence is from and to whom is directed. It may also include an extensive list of persons who require the information in order to ensure proper coordination. This is frequently done with a "cc" list in the letter, fax, or e-mail. Blind copies might also be appropriate for certain types of letters. The decision to include blind copies should be based on prior mutual agreement between specific persons, such as the owner requesting a blind copy of correspondence between the construction manager and design principal.

Follow-up your phone conversations in writing for important matters as soon as possible, making sure the distribution list includes all affected parties. Enclose copies of correspondence received from subcontractors, suppliers, and vendors with a correspondence "cover" for all matters affecting the work. Coordinating the various disciplines during design is usually the responsibility of either the architect, principal engineer, or construction manager. Coordinating the work of various suppliers, trades, and subcontractors in the responsibility of the contractor as part of the construction means and methods. However, successful coordination requires that all parties of both the design and construction teams communicate with each other so that the construction can proceed in an orderly manner. Proper form and process need to be defined and followed to ensure that the information is properly transmitted and officially received. While speech is used extensively throughout the construction process through meetings and phone conversations, scheduling and legal procedures require written records with proper distribution to all concerned entities. Generally, letter coordination outlines the traditional communications procedures that have been recognized by the industry as "protocol" to keep the participants involved as fully informed as possible and to avoid misunderstandings. Naturally, exceptions occur. Letter communication also offers the opportunity to introduce standards, instructions and forms critical for a good record keeping system.

STANDARD TERMS

Addendum: Written or graphic instruments issued prior to the execution of the contract which modify or interpret the bidding documents, including drawings or specifications, by additions, deletions, clarifications, or corrections. Addenda will become part of the contract documents when the construction contract is executed. Plural Addenda.

Agency: Administrative subdivision of a public or private organization having jurisdiction over construction of the work.

Application and Certificate for Payment: Contractor's written request for payment of amount due for completed portions of the work, and, if the contract so provides, for materials delivered and suitably stored pending their incorporation into the work.

Accepted: Written acknowledgement of review by the architect/engineer or other authority having jurisdiction.

Architect: Designation reserved, usually by law, for a person or organization professionally qualified and duly licensed to perform architectural services, including analysis of project requirements, creation and development of proj ect design, preparation of drawings, specifications and bidding requirements, and general administration of the construction contract. As used in this manual, the prime design professional with whom the owner contracts for design services: either the architect or the engmeer.

Architect's Representative: An individual assigned by the architect to act as his liaison to assist in the administration of the construction contract.

Beneficial Occupancy: Use of a project or portion thereof for the purpose intended.

Building Inspector: A representative of a governmental authority employed to inspect construction for compliance with applicable codes, regulations, and ordinances.

Certificate for Payment: A statement from the architect to the owner confirming the amount of money due the contractor for work accomplished, or materials and equipment suitably stored, or both.

Change Order: A written order to the contractor signed by the owner and the architect, issued after the execution of the contract, authorizing a change in work or an adjustment in the contract sum or the contract time.

Codes: Regulations, ordinances, or statutory requirements of a governmental unit relating to building construction and occupancy, adopted and administered for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.

Consultant: An individual or organization engaged by the architect/engineer to render professional consulting services complementary to or supplementing his/her services.

Construction Documents: The owner-contractor agreement, the conditions of the contract (general, supplementary, and other conditions), the drawings, the specifications, and all addenda issued prior to execution of the contract, all modifications thereto, and any other items specifically stipulated as being included in the contract documents.

Construction Inspector: A qualified person engaged to provide full-time inspection of the work.

Contract: The legally enforceable promise or agreement executed by the owner and the contractor for the construction of the work.

Contract Documents: The owner-contractor agreement, the conditions of the contract (general, supplementary, and other conditions), the drawings, the specifications, and all addenda issued prior to the execution of the contract, all modifications thereto, and any other items specifically stipulated as being included in the contract documents.

Contractor: The person or organization performing the work and identified as such in the contract.

Date of Substantial Completion: The date certified by the architect when the work or a designated portion thereof is sufficiently complete in substantial accordance with the contract documents so that the owner may occupy the work or designated portion thereof for the use for which it was intended.

Engineer: Designation reserved, usually by law, for a person or organization professionally qualified and duly licensed to perform engineering services, including analysis of project requirements, development of project design, preparation of drawings, specifications and bidding requirements, and general administration of the construction contract. See also Consultant.

Field Change Order: A written order used for emergency instruction to the contractor where the time required for the preparation and execution of a formal change order would result in a delay or stoppage of the work. The usage of a field change order may be subject to prior legal approval and limitations. A duly authorized change order replaces a field change order expediently.

Final Acceptance: The owner's acceptance of the project from the contractor upon certification by the architect that it is complete and in substantial accordance with the contract requirements. Final acceptance is confirmed by making of final payment unless otherwise stipulated at the time of making such payment.

Final Inspection: Final review of the project from the contractor upon certification by the architect that is complete and in substantial accordance with the contract requirements. Final acceptance is confirmed by making final payment unless otherwise stipulated at the time of making such payment.

Inspection: Examination of the work completed or in progress to determine its compliance with contract requirements. The architect ordinarily makes only two inspections of a construction project, one to determine the date of substantial completion, and the other to determine final completion. These inspections should be distinguished from the more general observations of visually exposed and accessible conditions made by the architect on periodic site visits during the progress of the work. A full-time construction inspector makes continuous inspections.

Inspection List: A list of items of work to be completed or corrected by the contractor.

Owner: (1) The architect's client and party to owner-architect agreement; (2) the owner of the project and party to the owner-contractor agreement.

Owner Representative: A person delegated by the owner to act in his/her behalf as liaison with the architect during the development of the project and construction of the work. The responsibilities delegated should be stipulated to the extent that this person mayor can make decisions on the part of the owner.

Progress Payment: Partial payment made during the progress of the work on account of work completed and/or materials received and suitably stored.

Progress Schedule: A diagram, graph, or other pictorial or written schedule showing proposed ( actual times of starting and completion of the various elements of the work.

Project: The total construction designed by the architect, of which work performed under to contract documents may be a whole or part.

Punch List: See Inspection List.

Record Drawings: Construction drawings revised to show significant changes made during to construction process, usually based on marked-up prints, drawings, and other data furnished by to contractor to the architect. Sometimes the term "as-built drawings" has been used in the past. Tb contractor is responsible for the accuracy on the information provided.

Required: Need of contract documents, code, agency, normally accepted practice, or other authority unless context implies a different meaning.

Schedule of Values: A statement furnished by the contractor to the architect reflecting the portion of the contract sum allotted for the various parts of the whole and used as the basis for reviewing to contractor's applications for progress payments.

Shop Drawing: Drawings, diagrams, illustrations, schedules, performance charts, brochures, an other data prepared by the Contractor or any subcontractor, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor which illustrate how specific portions of the work shall be fabricated and/or installed.

Standards: Organizations or public agencies that are recognized, or have established by authority custom general consent, industry standards, or other manner of a method, criterion example, or test f( the manufacture, installation, workmanship, or performance of a material or system.

Subcontractor: A person or organization that has a direct contract with a prime contractor t perform a portion of the work at the site.

Substantial Completion: See Date of Substantial Completion.

Supplier: A person or organization that supplies materials or equipment for the work, including that fabricated to a special design, but does not perform labor at the site. See also Vendor.

Superintendent: Contractor's representative at the site who is responsible for continuous field supervision, coordination, completion of the work, and, unless another person is designated in writing by the contractor to the owner and architect, prevention of accidents.

Vendor: A person or organization that furnishes materials or equipment not fabricated to a specie design for the work. See also Supplier.

Work: All labor necessary to produce the construction required by the contract documents, and a materials and equipment incorporated or to be incorporated in such construction.

Revised Edtion - Business Letters for the CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
A Guide to Construction Communication
By Andrew Atkinson


No more struggling to find the right words

This book presents a practical and invaluable arsenal of professionally-written model letters tailored specifically to the construction industry. Use this book to make your business stand out from the crowd and get your message across more effectively than ever before! The organized format lets you pinpoint exactly what you need through realistic scenarios that explain when to use each letter. A company letterhead field makes it easy to customize the look of your letters, and a simple generic model gives you a clear, professional letter every time.
This Book also features:

  • Record-keeping tips.
  • Standard communication protocol.
  • Clear definitions of common industry terms.
  • Appendix of industry organizations.