You may have met my 22 year old Princess when she was 11. A few years ago, I was teaching her about grace … undeserved merit or favor.
Well, my daughter was stalling and delaying on eating her meal … by almost an hour. So, naturally, I saw this as a teachable moment.
“Honey, do you remember when we were talking about grace this week? Although you should eat all your food, I am going to show you some grace tonight. Even though you don’t deserve it, I am going to eat the rest of your chili for you.” (How nice of me. I proceeded to spoon the rest of her chili into my bowl. Happy tummy!)
Without skipping a beat, my inquisitive daughter asked, “Dad . . . You got any grace for my broccoli?” (Nice.)
Every now and then, we joke about the broccoli incident. But I am often reminded that too many times we fail to get something we want because we fail to “ask” for it. And when we ask for it, we sometimes fail to ask for it properly. Having litigated construction disputes for almost 20 years, the issue of entitlement often turns on whether the contractor properly submitted its claims in accordance with the terms of the parties’ contract. Whether the dispute involves a change order, delay damages, or time extension, I have litigated too many claims for additional compensation or time where: (a) the request was never made; (b) the request was not timely made; or (c) the request was not properly made.
As an attorney, I try to teach all my clients that proper documentation primarily serves as a claim preservation method—whether to provide notice of the claim or to document the claim impact. No matter the size of the project, proper documentation will eliminate a number of disputes. For example, consider the following claim provision:
“Any claim for additional time must be given within seven days of the event given rise to the delay.”
Best Practices would teach you to outline and highlight these types of provisions in your contract documents before you start contract performance. Make a spreadsheet with key provisions. And when one of those “events” arise, you should immediately send your letter “asking” for additional time or, at a minimum, “preserving” your right to later seek additional time and money. Don’t wait until the lawsuit or demand for arbitration before giving notice of your claim.
In other words, if you want someone else to eat your broccoli … you have to ask for it!