In writing specifications, it is well to take into consideration both the time and point of beginning work, how it shall be proceeded with and when completed. In many large cities, contractors of no financial responsibility secure work on a tempting bid, with no intention of proceeding with the work for the price, but intend, by holding back the completion of the building, to force a larger sum from the owner than would be required by a responsible concern to do the work, besides having their bills guaranteed for them. Sometimes they are bought off at a good round figure by the owner, who is glad to be rid of them at any price.

To prevent such practice, the specification should declare when work on the contract shall begin, how progress, and when terminate, with the relief to be afforded the owner in case the contractor fails to fulfil the terms of the contract. Such a section may be worded something like the following:

"The contractor shall begin work on the installation of the plumbing within three days after signing the contract, and shall proceed with his work in such manner as not to hinder the other workmen or delay the completion of the building. By the time the building is ready for lathing (if a frame building), or by the time the floor arches are in (if a steel frame building), the rough plumbing, consisting of the drainage system in the basement, all the stacks of soil, waste and vent pipes, all supply pipes, and the lead roughing for toilet and bath rooms shall be in place and tested. The fixtures in the various toilet and bath rooms shall all be set in place and connected ready for use within six days after the respective rooms are ready for the plumbing fixtures to be set."

"If at any time the contractor gets behind with his work and fails or refuses to put on a sufficient force of men to catch up with the other contractors, or if at any time he shall neglect or refuse to proceed with his work for two consecutive days, the owner, after two days' notice, may consider the work abandoned and purchase all necessary material and employ all necessary labor to complete the work according to the terms of the contract. If after completing all work there be a balance in favor of the contractor, the same shall be paid to him; whereas if there be a deficit, the contractor shall refund the amount."

Usually, with such a clause in the specifications, the two days' notice is sufficient to induce a contractor to proceed with his work.

It is well to specify explicitly where the work of installation will begin. For instance, a very good practice that applies equally to all types of building is to have the house sewer, including the main drain trap and fresh-air inlet, also the water service, installed under a separate contract before the work is commenced on the superstructure of the building. By this arrangement all the trenching can be done at one time, both for the foundation walls and the service and drainage pipes, thus avoiding the inconvenience of having the street opened while the superstructure is being erected. Furthermore, the sewer provides means for draining the cellar, and the service pipe furnishes water for building purposes. When this practice is followed there is no work to be done in the street and no permits to secure and pay for, so that the specifications relating to permits may be omitted and a paragraph something like the following inserted:

"The house sewer, fresh-air inlet and service pipes are already installed to the inside of the foundation wall. Beginning at that point the contractor shall furnish all materials and labor to complete the plumbing work according to the plans and specifications."