After reviewing the Bid Packages from the construction teams I have several changes I would make in future situations.
First, I will always make sure contract language is very clear to minimize any opportunities for miscommunication. We did not run into this too much in our documents, but reading back over them again we could have written some things more clearly.
Second, I will make sure the specifications are so clear that someone who does not know specifics of the industry could procure the correct product. The reason this is an issue, is that we need a gelatinous layer to act as the river, very similar to Jell-O brand jello, but not Jell-O brand, because the name brand contains pork gelatin, which is a banned ingredient. The two bids we received did not find an alternative (it’s a bit more expensive, but available in this area), so we are unsure if they will catch the mistake before purchasing materials. I believe the problem arose because we used the term jello to describe the material, but specified that pork based gelatin products such as those used in Jell-O were not allowed. Members of the design team interpreted jello as a type of material and Jell-O as the brand. Hopefully the construction team can rectify this before completion of the bridge.
Third, I would require more deliverables from the design team. When I wrote that part of the contract I figured that everyone’s cooking experience was comparable, so it is not necessary to get proof. I cared most about the price, to see if it was reasonable. What we should have required was a detailed list of products, quantities, and prices, so we could make sure each team was using materials that met our specification. It also would have been nice to see where money was being spent.
Fourth, we should have requested updates during the construction process. Pictures or results from tests we specified would have gone a long way in insuring quality control.
In general, these are items I thought about adding to the contract, but did not think they were really necessary in this activity. I see now that there is no such thing as being too specific in a contract, even in a school scenario. I should have gotten input from my friend who is studying law…