gerald ROY spencer, P.E.

Gerald Spencer, P.E. has more than 50 years experience serving as the Engineer of Record responsible for the design and construction of the MEP portions of more than 1300 building construction projects since 1968 including more than 30 years of preparing forensic engineering reports. Gerald Spencer, P.E. has also been providing licensed professional engineering expert opinion and testimony concerning HVAC, electrical, plumbing, cryogenics, ventilation, construction contract compliance, construction cost  estimating, construction contract acquisition, construction contract administration, and other construction matters for attorneys with  since 2001.


The “Standard of Care” for Engineering services provided to the public at large does not have an accepted written definition, but is a "moving target" subject different opinions from those in the construction industry, usually depending upon the financial interest of the individual. This opinion will also vary among those in the construction industry with the same financial interests. The following is my subjective personal definition of the “Standard of Care” provided by the Engineer of Record (EOR) for Engineering services provided to their clients during design. My opinion is subject to the differing opinions of all of the different parties involved in the construction industry. My definition is provided as a starting point for any discussion. I will be happy to discuss or argue my opinions in any forum that might be appropriate for discussion or debate of this topic.

The owner or any other client has the right to expect that the Engineers that solicit him for design commissions have previously prepared construction contract drawings and specifications for construction projects similar to his project, and that they have certified similar projects as the Engineers of Record (EOR) for code compliance as required by the AHJs for building permit application. The engineer preparing construction contract drawings and specifications must realize that the contract documents are only an instrument required for the first step toward construction of a facility, which is normally the final objective and the purpose of the contract documents. 

The Owner has the right to assume that the EOR that he commissions to be responsible for the design and the construction of the owner's project has the following experience and qualifications:

1. The EOR will produce a project that will operate and serve as required to perform as defined, described, required, and/or generally accepted to perform as the owner required of the EOR.

2. The EOR is construction oriented and very experienced at preparing construction contract documents for similar projects for the acquisition of a contract to construct the owner's project.

3. The EOR is responsible the "constructability" of the construction contract documents that he creates. 

4. The EOR is responsible for producing project contract documents that are are as error free as possible. 

5. The EOR will adequately supervise the construction contractor to assure that the contractor completes the contract requirements of the contract documents as required to construct the facility as defined by the contract documents.

6. The EOR will perform total project management including programming, design, management, cost control, timely service, quality of work and construction contract administration. 

7. The EOR will perform all coordination between the contractor's organization with documentation in as much detail as written word and sketches permit. 

8. The EOR will conduct all formal construction contract meetings and telephone conversations, followed with written confirmation of all items discussed and decisions made at that meeting.  All verbal instructions between contractor and the EOR will be confirmed in writing.  This documentation is in the form of confirmation notices numbered in sequence so that continuity of numbered notices assures each recipient that they have all of the coordination documentation on the project.  The EOR will also conduct periodic formal construction coordination review meetings during construction with all other subcontractors in the other construction trades involved.  These meetings allow each subcontractor to be informed of the actions of other subcontractors, and allow information flow concerning actions of one subcontractor affecting other disciplines. 

9. The EOR will complete the construction contract administration in a manner that will minimize interference with the contractor's schedule of operations.

10. The EOR will complete the construction contract administration, interium construction progress observation reports, partial payment applications during construction, final project completion punch lists, and deliver the project to the owner. 

11. The EOR will provide Engineers licensed in each discipline to test and certify the operation of each system requiring certification of the capacity, safety and other performance requirements.



o&m documentation

The field office could be expanded with home office personnel to be the base of operations to furnish O&M documentation services to the Government if required.

training o&m personnel

The field office could be expanded with a small cadre of key home office personnel to be the base of operations to furnish preliminary training for the Government O&M personnel that might be newly assigned to the project.

field change orders

The EOR's field office would have the capability of providing design and documentation of small field change orders. The EOR's home office should also be available for design and documentation of larger scale field change orders if necessary.

jobsite meeting space

A jobsite office will consist of one office plus a conference room with a conference table, folding chairs and a telephone dedicated for use by the owner and/or architect. This facility will be supplied by the construction contractor. This will be used for jobsite conferences and meetings. The contractor may use the conference room when the AE and the Government representatives are not on the project site.

weekly construction reports 

The CM shall generate a weekly report that will describe the construction progress the previous week, the results of any materials testing, and any unusual occurrences.

Monthly Payment Vouchers

The CM shall review the contractor's monthly payment vouchers and forward these vouchers to the CA for approval. The CA will have the other various design disciplines visit the site for additional verification of the construction partial payment when the CA is not positive that partial payment is justified. The EOR will always strive to withhold sufficient funds to allow the project to be completed in the event that the contractor declares bankruptcy and abandons the project. The EOR and the CA assumes ultimate responsibility for the validity of the partial payment to the contractor.

Contractors Project schedule

The CA and the CM will monitor the contractor's progress schedule on a weekly basis and determine the adherence to the project schedule. SEI personnel are familiar with several CPM software programs and some times create CPM programs for delivery to the contractor as a starting point for scheduling the work of the contract. The SEI architects and engineers are construction oriented and have a good opinion of the time required for various construction operations.


Digital photography has allowed the EORs to take a multitude of pictures during construction without having to consider the cost pf photographic development. The EOR will deliver these photographs on CD-ROM's to the owners for future reference. These photographs will fully indicate all concealed utilities and concealed construction features, and will hopefully minimize (eliminate) demolition required for solutions to future maintenance problems.

sample testing

The EOR's CA would be responsible for taking concrete and other construction material samples for testing. Local testing laboratories will be utilized if possible, or one of our materials testing consultants can perform these services.

construction monitor

During construction, the CCA will appoint a Construction Monitor (CM) to keep a daily project log, and to be at the field office on the jobsite every day to observe construction operations and report directly to the CCA. The CCA retains responsibility for the actions of the CCA.

daily log

The services of the field office would consist of maintaining a daily log of the construction operations as observed by and documented by the CM. This would include photographs and narrative descriptions of the daily operations. The entries of the daily log shall be copied and transmitted to the home office on a daily basis.

Electrical commissioning 

We provide our electrical engineers on-site for the resistance certifications, equipment energizing, load start-ups, phase balancing, power factor balancing, and operational testing for the commissioning of the Electrical systems. This includes the certification of the controls, Fire Alarm System, Nurse Call System, Utility Control/Energy Management System function/program/operation, and other systems. We can provide all or part of these services with the construction contractor providing all or part under the direction and auspices of our contract administration services. We normally supply all portable calibrated instrumentation equipment for field measurement of temperatures, voltages, amperes, temperatures and flows when we are to certify the performance of these systems. All test data measurement acquisition will be performed and certified by one of our Registered Professional Engineers. We normally coincide user operating & maintenance personnel training with the start-up & commissioning. We have performed commissioning duties for most of our major construction projects.

mechanical commissioning 

The EOR shall provide our mechanical engineers on-site for the equipment start-ups, water balancing, air balancing, and operational testing for the commissioning of the HVAC systems. This includes the certification of the air distribution system balancing, air flows, water circulation system balancing, chiller capacity, boiler capacity, controls, Utility Control/ Energy Management System function/ program/ operation, and thermal systems by or under the supervision of the EOR. The EOR will include flow, temperature and pressure measuring devices as required for accurate determination of operating conditions into the contract drawings. The EOR can provide all or part of these services with the construction contractor providing all or part under the direction and auspices of our contract administration services. The EOR will normally supply all portable calibrated instrumentation equipment for field measurement of temperatures, voltages, amperes, temperatures and flows when The EOR shall certify the performance of these systems. All test data measurement acquisition will be performed and certified by a Registered Professional Engineers supervised by the EOR. The EOR will normally coincide user operating & maintenance personnel training with the start-up & commissioning. We have performed commissioning duties for most of our major construction projects.

home office support

EOR shall stress contractor control to insure that the project is constructed in accordance with the contract requirements as defined with the contract documents. We always have the actual designers involved in the contract administration to check all of the shop drawings and be available for consultation as a minimum involvement in the construction. Our designers perform on-site construction progress observation visits (previously called inspections) and prepare written reports that document the progress of the construction and document any deficiencies in the construction that need to be corrected. We require that the contractor’s questions documented through the RFI (request for information) process. The original designers are normally assigned to reply to contractor questions presented through the RFI process for that particular discipline. The designers are also consulted for evaluation of partial payments to the contractor during the construction process. Large projects will have a “clerk of the works” furnished by SEI serving full time as Construction Monitor (CM). Most Federal Agencies normally appoints a Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) or a COTR to furnish daily jobsite CA. The COR normally calls upon the AE for interpretation of the Contract Documents.

as-built drawings

The EOR normally specifies that the contractor keep two sets of blue-line prints on the jobsite for as-built record keeping as a part of the construction contract requirements. The contractor will be normally be contractually required to mark each hidden feature and/or utility with an exact dimension so that these features may be located for repair and/or addition after the construction is complete. The EOR will normally furnish the contractor with a set of CADfiles for the contractor to up-date the drawings, or the marked-up blue lines will be given to the EOR and the EOR will up-date the CADfiles and designate these files as the "AS-BUILT" drawings.

requests for information (RFI) 

The EOR's field office would also maintain a log of the RFI requests submitted from the contractor and will forward the RFI to the home office for clarification if the CM cannot provide the answer to the request. RFI's will be submitted in a numbered sequence and identified by the sequence number. The CM shall submit one copy without answers to the government for information, and one copy with answers to the owner. The owner may comment if desired. One answered copy will be transmitted back to the field office, and the field office shall provide the contractor with a copy of the answered RFI. The EOR's field office would be the primary responsible office for the maintaining the status and knowing the location of all RFI's from the contractor at all times. Copies of the final answered RFI's would be on file at the jobsite and at the home office. Dual RFI records would provide extra security in the event of a fire or other disaster at either office.

cost estimating

The EOR might prefer the 12 Part systems estimating format proposed by the Department of Statem, the CESWF (Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division, Fort Worth District) M-CACES (Minicomputer Aided Cost Estimating System) to derive anticipated construction costs, current working cost estimates and final government cost estimates. The EOR personnel might use the NAFAC (U S Navy) CES (Cost Estimating System) to derive anticipated construction costs, current working cost estimates and final government cost estimates. The EOR might elect to prepare construction cost estimates using the NASA Format and Criteria. The EOR shall utilize a computer program to estimate or analyze costs because this helps to eliminate mathematical errors and saves time. Most EORs have prepared the final government cost estimates for federally funded projects. The EOR's designers are normally the construction cost estimators for their parts of the projects. This keeps the EOR's designers abreast of current construction costs. The EOR will also have the designers perform construction contract administration for projects that they design to assure the constructability of their designs.

contract change orders

The EOR prepares construction contract field change orders to our construction projects for a variety of reasons. User agencies requesting building changes to meet changing mission or building function requirements can create contract modifications. Sometimes facilities are constructed to house equipment that has not yet been designed, and contract modifications are required to meet the equipment space and utility requirements. The EOR contract documentss can have errors and omissions that prevent project completion. Sometimes change order requests are created to spend the entire contingency funding at the end of the project, rather than return the funding. When the EOR prepare change orders for our projects, we also prepare independent construction cost estimates to establish an independant opinion of the monetary amount due the contractor for each contract modification.

field office 

During construction, the CA (at the home office for small projects and at the jobsite for large projects) will be the initial contact point for both the Construction Contractor and the Government to communicate with the AE. Temporary Jobsite Offices (Trailer) will be set-up at the Jobsite. This field office will have the full support of the home office technical design staff of Spencer Engineers, Inc. on call at all times. We believe that the project designers should also be utilized as much as possible as field inspectors. This home office support would be available to provide interpretations of the drawings when requested. This home office support would be available to prepare any major field change orders. Home office personnel would be on call as required to perform regular periodic project site visits as scheduled and/or as requested either by the government and/or our field inspector. The services of the field office would also include the inspection of the construction, documentation of the daily progress of the construction, and the preparation of periodic field reports for distribution to the Government, the Contractor and the home office.

construction supervision 

The EOR shall provide construction contract administration, construction monitoring, create and maintain daily log of the construction operations, shop drawings, respond to RFI (requests for information), prepare contract change order documentation, prepare cost estimating for field change orders, prepare weekly construction reports, prepare monthly payment vouchers, review and maintain contractor's project schedule, document the construction with digital photographs, supervise and check laboratory sample testing, prepare documentation for field change orders, conduct periodic jobsite meetings, conduct or supervise training O&M personnel, prepare or supervise preparation of O&M documentation, conduct or supervise start-up and commissioning, prepare as-built drawings, provide home office support for large design contract modifications, provide project start-up & commissioning.

shop drawings

The field office would also maintain a log of the shop drawings submittals from the contractor, forwarding the shop drawings to the home office and to the government for approval, information, modifications, or rejections in the field office. Two copies of each submittal would be transmitted to the government for comments, with one copy transmitted back to the field office with comments before release of the shop drawings to the contractor. The field office would be the primary responsible office for the maintaining the status and knowing the location of all shop drawings submittals from the contractor at all times. Copies of the final checked shop drawings with all comments from the Government, the home office and the consultants would be transcribed onto the required number of record shop drawing sets and distributed to the contractor, to the Government and to the home office. Dual shop drawing records would provide extra security in the event of a fire or other disaster at either office.

construction contract administrator

The prime purpose of the Construction Contract Administrator (CCA) is to personally assure that the contractor is complying with the construction plans and specifications and with the other contract requirements. A Registered Engineer will always be permanently assigned as the project Contract Administrator. The Government will be advised (in writing) when this personnel assignment is even temporarily changed (for Vacation, Sickness, etc.) The CCA will always be available for communications with the Government and/or the Construction Contractor. The CCA will periodically visit the project jobsite to support and monitor the Construction Monitor.

project start-up and commissioning

The EOR shall direct the contractor to perform the steps defined in the contract documents that will provide commissioning of the project as part of the construction contract completion; energizing the systems; loading the systems; starting all equipment; certifying that the systems operate within specified contractual requirements; training of the operations personnel to the point that they are understand the equipment and are comfortable operating the equipment; and training of the maintenance personnel to the point that they are able to safely maintain the equipment. The EOR shall prepare written documentation and conduct training sessions for the start-up, operation, maintenance and commissioning of the standard and non-standard systems such as space simulation systems, cryogenic circulation systems, VOC aeration systems, and other special and complicated systems since 1965 at NASA-JSC. Engineer will normally coincide user operating & maintenance personnel training with the start-up & commissioning. EOR shall have performed commissioning duties for at least three major construction projects.