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Page 153
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 8
"I'm trying to explain," Milo said, "that
the contract language is clear. The correct
amount of any credit is the net cost, that is to
say the actual costs."
"That clause doesn't apply to change or-
"It does."
"It doesn't."
"I'm reasonably sure it does," Milo said.
Andy thought about ways to reply to this.
"But we paid you cost plus a thirteen percent
"That's right."
"And now you want to keep the thirteen
"I think it's only fair."
"Over fifty thousand dollars, in profit," here
Andy paused for effect and leaned back in his
chair and stared at the mound of paperwork
on his desk that wasn't getting done while he
was on the phone deliberating, well arguing,
sort of, about profit margins on nonexistent
revenues, "for work you never completed,
never even started?"
"It's in the contract."
"Fifty thousand," Andy said, "and all you
did was shuffle paper."
"Item 9.8," Milo said. "I forget the page
number. I can look it up if you want."
"This is insane!"
"I agree," which wasn't technically true.
"Blame the lawyers," Milo said.
Andy had run out of logical arguments and
was willing to consider illogical arguments, if
he could think of one, which he couldn't. He
said, "Can I ask you something? Do you hon-
estly feel good about this?"
"I'm a numbers guy," Milo said. "I don't
take any of this personally," which is to say,
feelings weren't really involved.
At the risk of repeating myself, this conver-
sation never took place. Not in these words
and in this order and certainly not with all the
arguments and counterarguments lined up
in a nearly comprehensible string as I've pre-
sented them. Not exactly.
As for the actual fate of change order #15,
after a month or so of thorny e-mails and
phone calls in which Tribble & Stephens'
project management staff made an altogeth-
er reasonable case for charging me for work
never done, I got my attorney involved to draft
a letter to Tribble & Stephens outlining our
understanding of the contract. Thereafter, all
parties agreed that a balanced "this for that"
seemed like a good idea.
In the construction industry, disputes over
change orders are common. That said, even
mildly nonsensical spats had a way of weigh-
ing on you, piling up over time until you were
psychologically slump-shouldered, stooped
from the weight. By the time change order
#15 ambled down the construction turnpike,
Andy Perry was dog-tired from arguing.
When the debacle finally faded and almost ev-
eryone was once again friendly, Andy'd had
his fill of wrangling over money and irrational
legal nitpicks and wanted nothing more than
to work with a contractor who gave us a fixed
price and built the project for that price.