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08 October 2010

What's a vendor?

I’m not sure when it started, but in the last couple of years I’ve seen an increasing number of references to “vendor” with no definition of what a vendor is. In the context of the construction contract, there is no need to introduce another entity, as everything is the responsibility of either the owner or the contractor. That leaves exactly four options for any given item:
  • Contractor furnished/Contractor installed - the default condition.
  • Owner furnished/Owner installed - essentially the same as not in contract (NIC); the contractor has nothing to do with the item, other than providing concealed blocking or similar work when specified.
  • Owner furnished/Contractor installed - often used for toilet accessories, cubicle curtains, etc.
  • Contractor furnished/Owner installed - possible, but I’ve done this only a couple of times in twenty years.
Beyond that, it makes no difference to the contractor who furnishes or installs anything that is not in the contract. It either will be in the contract or it will be done by the owner; if it’s not in the contract, who does it is of no consequence to the contractor. Including non-contract work may be useful for planning or for the owner, but adding another entity is a needless complication of the contract documents. In general, there is no reason to include information that does not affect the contract; however, the equipment schedule offers an easy way to tell the contractor about NIC items that need concealed blocking or other preparatory work. Ideally, we would provide specific information about that work, but that often is not possible or practical.

From what I have seen, it appears that the term vendor is used for a company that performs work under a separate contract with the owner - but that often is not clear in the contract documents. While it may be clear to the designer who the vendors are, and while some contractors may interpret vendor correctly, it is important to make perfectly clear who the vendors work for. Without definitions, it’s difficult to bid or enforce contract requirements - and that can lead to trouble (court case resulting from use of term vendor).

The following two general formats make it easy to indicate who furnishes and who installs what. They also are easier to interpret than CFCI, OFCI, OFVI, etc.

In the second example, P indicates provide, meaning furnish and install; F and I indicate furnish and install.

The entire schedule can be used for planning or tracking, and can be given to the owner. However, when included in the contract documents, the two columns on the right would be hidden. The vendor column also would be hidden unless needed to tell the contractor where to go for information about blocking or similar work. If the vendor column is included, there should be a note or check box to indicate those items that require that type of work.

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