Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
Be warned, this is going to be somewhat of a rant and likely not for those whose sensibilities are easily offended. I am a little disheartened that, in this day and age, I would even feel the need to write this. Honestly though, after 30 years, it feels good to unload some of these frustrations.
I need to preface this blog with the fact that I have come to know many amazing product reps since I joined CSI. For those amazing Reps, this blog is NOT for or about you.
This blog is about what I will call “The Others.” Some of this blog is about how “The Others” interact with women in the AEC industry.
While it is not particularly important for the purpose of this writing but, in the interest of full disclosure, I was the Standards Coordinator at a fairly large Engineering Firm that does work all over the world and am now a specifier at a multi-office architecture firm. I have been a the keeper and guardian of Master Specs, run a QA/QC program and performed various other duties associated with having quality documents and consistent standards. I have over 30 years of experience in AEC.
Because we had multiple disciplines and I am not an Engineer (most of my career was spent in architecture) I did not typically make final product decisions. That was left to the engineers. I am the central information point for feedback and information on our engineers experience with particular products.
One side piece to my former job was supervising two of our general office staff. It is the responsibility of our administrative assistant (newly hired to replace the last one who was promoted) to set up lunch and learns. I had not trained her to do this. I have performed this task since the promotion of our last administrative assistant because I find that having a direct line to our product reps helps me do my job better. We had far too many lunch & learns in our office for it to be feasible for me to attend every single one. Performing this task gives me an opportunity to speak with every product rep whether I can attend their event or not. It also helps me get specific information that I need and get to know them.
In addition to my work, I have become heavily involved in CSI and have attended the last five CONSTRUCT Shows as well as many of our Chapter’s Industry Forums which both have a product show component.
And that is where my rant begins. For “The Others” I have a few words of advice. I hope you will take this advice in the spirit in which it is given. Some of you are so insulting that your behavior is shared far beyond that initial phone call that you make. That behavior does not go over well with the folks you are trying to reach so please, take heed of some words to live by:
Contributed by Elias Saltz
In my very first post on this site, the one titled, “Is Construction Broken?” I listed a few ways in which the profession of architecture is contributing to the ways in which construction is broken and needs to be fixed. I’m providing the link so readers can go back and refresh their memories on the whole discussion but for the rest of this post I will be addressing one observation, which reads in part:
(Most but not all) Architects have very poor knowledge of how much construction costs, and use loose rules of thumb to try to determine whether or not their designs are within their clients’ budgets. They rarely know how the details they create affect the project cost, and the resulting necessary Value Engineering (VE) costs them time, money and prestige.
As I’ve thought more about this, it occurs to me that this is one of the biggest problems facing the profession. The Owner’s money is not an unlimited fountain and most projects have some sort of budget, either a hard limit or a ‘this is where we’d like to be’ type of budget. Owners rely on architects to curate the expenditure of amounts of money that massively outweigh the architects’ own fees. They also rely on architects to develop designs that meet their facility needs.
When architects begin with the ‘design concept’ as the primary driver, or if they have a personal ‘favorite move’, the client’s budget is already at risk. Swoopy curves and other grand gestures may be considered the fun part for the architect and even for the building occupant, but complexity often carries a heavy premium. I learned recently of an office that designed an S-shaped, low-slung residence with structural insulated panels (SIP) instead of normal framing and sheathing for the roof structure. Each SIP would have needed to be custom made in a trapezoidal shape. Is there any wonder this project was significantly over budget? The resulting VE exercise cost the architects most of their interesting design as well as their (uncompensated) time, while it cost the client its seasonal construction window. It also generally cost goodwill all around.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Seven short months ago, after discussing issues in construction with Cherise Lakeside for what seemed like the infinite time, I blurted out that someone should start a 'fix construction' website and start tackling some of these concerns we were having. Being short of patience myself and wanting to strike while the iron was hot, I leaped at the opportunity when I discovered that the URL was available. I registered the domain LetsFixConstruction.com on a whim and brought up the core of the website you are reading here in a few short hours.
I was unsure as to what the response would be, but I was aware that we knew several individuals who were active construction bloggers and would be interested in what our core message was from the start: "to better the industry by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating and encouraging collaboration". It turns out that we seemed to be striking a chord almost immediately. Contributors were happy to share new and archival posts, the social shares were there and almost immediately, people were talking about #FixConstruction and what we were trying to do.
Fast forward seven months and dozens of posts later, we've now received recognition by having our blog nominated for not one, but two different industry awards. As previously mentioned, Construction Marketing Ideas has nominated us and 25 other bloggers for the 2017 Best Construction Blog award, which you can vote on here. In addition, #FixConstruction has been nominated in the 8th Annual JDR Industry Blogger Awards for Best Construction Business Blog along with ConstructConnect, ForConstructionPros and Miron Construction.
We are incredibly humbled and honored to be nominated by both Construction Marketing Ideas and Jackson Design & Remodeling. If you find us deserving, would you please take a moment to vote for Let's Fix Construction in the JDR Industry Blogger Awards here?
In the meantime, we're going to continue what we've been doing for the last six months: offering an unbiased and unsponsored platform for industry professionals to share their viewpoint on issues they're seeing in AEC and their solutions on how to swing things into a better light.
Contributed by Tom Masters
As energy prices rise and climate change becomes more of an issue, homeowners are looking for ways to save on their energy costs. While many homeowners already recycle and own electric cars, there are also ways to help the environment when having a home built. If you’re having a home built, there are very real steps that you or your general contractor can take to lower your energy usage and to make the home more efficient. Here’s an overview of the most effective ways to improve the efficiency of your new home.
Make Use of Cool Roofing in Hot Climates
Cool roofing is an ultra-reflective metal material that’s designed to bounce off the infrared rays from sunlight, to keep your home from heating up during bright sunny days. By adding this roofing to your home, you’ll minimize your cooling needs passively.
Build Thicker Walls
Most traditional homes today are built with 2x4 walls because it’s more affordable and all that’s required. Go with 2x6 walls instead, everywhere that you can. When the specs are just right, these walls will offer more space for insulation, making it possible to dramatically improve the efficiency of your home.
Space out Studs
The studs or 2x6 boards that make up your exterior walls are conductors for energy. Engineer your home so that the studs are 24-on-center, or so the studs are 24 inches apart instead of the standard 16 inches. This lowers the number of conductors you have in your home, making it more efficient.
Invest Heavily in Insulation
Go with a mixture of blown in insulation and foam insulation for the best results. Have foam insulation applied to the exterior walls from inside the home, and then have insulation blown in once the interior walls are into place to help fill in any remaining gaps.
Get a Tankless Water Heater
A standard water heater is a huge waste of energy, and completely unnecessary. Invest in a high quality tankless water heater to enjoy on-demand hot water whenever it’s needed, and to avoid heating up water all throughout the day, when it’s only needed once and awhile. When choosing a new tankless water heater, you need to consider the size of the home as well as the distance of the heater from the shower and other faucets in the home.
Buy Multi-Pane Gas Insulated Windows
Single pane windows are cheap and readily available, but they are a poor investment. Instead of buying these relics, invest in high quality dual, or tri-paned windows that are filled with a gas such as argon. The argon gas helps insulate the glass, and makes the windows much more energy efficient.
Contributed by Lori Greene
I have worked in the door and hardware industry since 1986 and this is THE most frequently-asked question that I receive. A specifier, supplier, architect, or end user has a retail, multi-family, office building, or other type of facility, and they want to know whether the exterior, stairwell, or emergency-exit doors need panic hardware. While there may be state or local requirements that vary (NYC is one), the IBC requirements are the ones that have been adopted by most jurisdictions.
According to all editions of the IBC starting with the 2006 edition, panic hardware is required for doors serving 3 use groups:
These requirements apply to doors which lock or latch; they do not apply if a door has push/pull hardware and no lock or latch.
For facilities that are required to follow NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code, there are 4 occupancy classifications where panic hardware is required:
NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code requires panic hardware on some rooms containing electrical equipment. Beginning with the 2014 edition, doors which latch or lock, within 25 feet of the required work area, serving the following rooms, require panic hardware:
There is more information about the NEC requirements here.
So back to the original question…”Do I need panic hardware on the stairwell doors in my apartment building, the main exit of my office building, or the emergency exit of my retail store?” These buildings would be considered Residential, Business, and Mercantile occupancies, so typically they would not require panic hardware on any doors unless there is an Assembly, Educational, or High Hazard area within the building with an occupant load of 50 or more (per the IBC) or 100 or more (per NFPA 101). Of course, panic hardware can be installed for convenience, security, or durability, even if it is not required by code.
To learn how to calculate the occupant load, you can refer to this article, and here’s an article about small assembly occupancies. There is more information about panic hardware in this Back-2-Basics article, this video covers where panic hardware is required, and you can find the descriptions of each occupancy type and the reference paragraph numbers for each edition of the model codes in this code reference guide.
*As someone pointed out the last time I wrote about this topic, there is an exception in the IBC for the main entrance/exit of an Assembly occupancy with an occupant load of 300 people or less – a key-operated lock may be used. I have very rarely seen double-cylinder deadbolts used on an Assembly occupancy, but you can read more about this requirement here.
**NFPA 101 also includes an exception for key-operated locks, which is addressed in the same article as the IBC requirements.
You can also read related posts on my blog, IdigHardware.com here:
Let's Fix Construction is a collective group of construction professionals who want to better the industry by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating and encouraging collaboration.
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