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04/15/2010

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In my experience reasonable notice requirements are legitimate and are essential to protect the owner's interests and allow the owner to mitigate the issue. It also allows contemporaneous evaluation of costs.

In most cases providing notice is not an onerous requirement. A simple, short letter satisfies the requirement. We request the notice, but we also ask every week in the progress meeting if there are any potential impacts on the horizon. We really would prefer to catch problems early when we can influence the outcome.

For public work in Washington state, the "Absher" and "Mike M. Johnson" cases have established pretty clearly that if a claim is not in writing and not made in a timely manner - however the contract describes timeliness - the contractor loses the ability to sustain a claim.

I think notice can take place by other than a specific written letter to the owner. Notice can be part of the weekly progress meetings or reports, notice can be the documentation of the issue in daily reports that are shared with the owner. Ultimately, the contractor and Owner should discuss and refine what is acceptable as reasonable notice, during the contract negotiations.

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