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When More Is Less: The Paradox of Differing Site Conditions Clauses

Wednesday WisdomIf I were to tell you that unforeseen subsurface conditions — for example, wetter-than-expected soils requiring a change to a building’s foundation — resulted in a substantial cost-overrun on a publicly bid project, you’d probably say, “that’s lousy news.”  In the context of that one project, I’d have to agree with you; unexpected cost increases can create uncomfortable financial, PR and political pressures for a public project’s participants, not to mention unwelcome additional costs for John Q. & Jane Q. Taxpayer.

But what if I told you that the contractor’s entitlement to increased compensation on that one project would ultimately save the government much more money on future projects?  “Sounds great,” you might respond, “but I don’t believe in fairy tales.”

You don’t have to.  You just have to believe in the differing site conditions (“DSC”) clause.

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