I'm knee deep in a project right now that I'll call it what it really is: bailing the Owner out. Know what you get when you don't create bidding documents and rely solely on a low price? You get what you get. And if I say that phrase aloud in front of my 5 and 8-year-old, they add "and you don't pitch a fit".
Well, when one doesn't create an RFP, not to mention any sort of construction specification or drawing, how can one hold any level of expectation about their finished product? This Owner bought off a non-descriptive proposal and carried what matters most in the construction industry too much of the time: the lowest price.
I don't have the time, the space, nor the want, to fully go down the road of the low-bid scenario. I will call it as I see it as a subcontractor: it's the short end of the stick. And yet it is still the "solution" for the most popular project delivery method in the construction industry today: design-bid-build.
Let us Cliffs Notes design-bid-build within a tweet's 280-character limit:
Owner has vision. Owner works with architect on design for vision. Architect develops schematics. Fine tunes. Vision formalized. Architect develops formal drawings & specifications for GC. Duration? Years? GC gets days to decipher vision. End result? Be cheapest.
But that's simplifying things, you say. Sure, that may be. But in a nutshell, that's the process.
One of the frustrating things about working with designers and developing specifications is becoming the basis of design, or an approved equal, only to be just breaking the sweat of the marathon race. Once you're named in a spec, you now must win the spec. And how do you ultimately win the spec? Match it and be the cheapest and ultimately, hope. Hope? Sure. Hope your price lands in the lap of the estimator in time. Hope they have time to read it. Hope they pick up what you're putting down. Hope they want to work with you. Hope you meet their qualifications to work together. Hope you can meet your estimate and make goal profit margin. Hope it all goes to plan. Hope you get paid in full in a timely fashion.
Contributed by Michael Chambers
Recently, a national trade association contacted education presenters to provide them with the evaluation results for their programs. This is a large association with a very strong focus on technology and its applications in business, education, worship, and industry. Their national convention offers hundreds of hours of educational opportunities for the attendees.
In general the education programs were very well received and evaluated. Attendees rated 90% of the programs at 4 (out of 5) or above for “overall quality and interest”. However, it is interesting to note that the same attendees indicated that less than 10% of the programs were rated 4 or above for “applicability to daily practice”. In other words, attendees thought the programs were very interesting but came away with nothing they could use in day-to-day practice.
In my experience this is true of most of the continuing education that I receive from product manufacturers’ box lunches, AIA continuing education programs, and CSI Chapter presentations. The majority of them are interesting and provide USEFUL information but rarely do they ever provide USABLE information. The concept here is much like searching the web on Google™ or Yahoo™, you end up with hundreds of USEFUL items but only a tiny fraction are truly USABLE. If continuing education is to have a positive impact on the construction industry, developers and presenters are going to have to put real, applicable content into the programs.
To effectively use continuing education as a marketing and communication tool, the content presented must be directly applicable to the day-to-day operations of the audience. Information about a product’s features and benefits is quite useful, as marketing hype, but it is rarely usable since design professionals need industry information, technical data, design guidelines, and details to effectively integrate a product or system into a building project.
In any type of presentation to design professionals, the focus must be on providing USABLE rather than USEFUL information. I guaranty it will transform your relationships with design professionals and enhance your professional credibility. It is critical to provide continuing education information on how to specify the product and to provide examples and details of how to appropriately incorporate the product into the drawings. I am constantly amazed how few educational presentations even discuss specifying and even less, how to detail and coordinate the drawings.
The best and most effective presentations are extremely simple, no PowerPoint™ or flim flam, just product installation examples, guide specifications, and example construction drawings of successful installations. That is truly USABLE information and HIGHLY EFFECTIVE continuing education.
(Editor's Note: Michael D. Chambers, FCSI, FAIA, CCS is Associate Vice President and Senior Project Specifier for HGA and is responsible for the specifications in the four California offices and is principal of MCA Specifications. Michael also sits on the CONSTRUCT Education Advisory Council with Let's Fix Construction Co-Founders, Cherise Lakeside and Eric D. Lussier.
NEW FOR CONSTRUCT IN 2019!
The NEW Product Rep University Program has been designed to meet the needs of Manufacturer's Representatives of Architectural Building Products, as integral members of the project team. The program features a full day of education (6 sessions) to help you stay up to date on current trends in the industry, and refine your interactions and relationships with design professionals.
CONSTRUCT will be held October 9 - 11, 2019 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. Details and registration will be opening soon. Read more on CONSTRUCT here. )
Contributed by Brent Williams
Recently I had the pleasure of networking with a rising leader of one of the largest CSI Chapters in the country. He, like many rising professionals, is trying to juggle the varied elements of a career, family and the responsibilities of leading a group of professionals in an increasingly demanding business world. Just like a lot of the leaders that I speak with, he’s suffering a significant amount of burnout. He wants to succeed at everything, he cares and he’s trying, but he feels like he’s fighting a losing battle. And while he’s a member of my professional association, he could be a member of just about any member-based association in today’s economy.
This particular leader is burning out for a number of reasons. He’s stressed, overworked, and because the team that surrounds him isn’t engaged and involved, he’s trying to do all the heavy lifting himself. Some of his team are on the way out early - they just can’t balance the demands. His team isn’t engaged because the previous leaders weren’t engaged and enrolled in the vision, primarily because leaders before them hadn’t created or clearly defined the long-term plan. Those leaders were likely failed because of the changes that were brought on by the economic downturn, such as fewer training opportunities, less availability from national staff and less guidance from more experienced members, because they, like many of us, struggle with the very same time demand issues.
In offering him some experience sharing, I explained that the two best tool sets that a Chapter leader can deploy are credit reversal and long-term strategy. While these two tools are powerful in an association setting, they also are impactful in business and parenting, where the ability to help others learn to lead is paramount.
Let me explain.
We all, know as leaders, that running a chapter is tough, but not the hardest thing that we’ve ever done. Things can go wrong, but those things are rarely “big and hairy”. Experience comes in really handy here, for newer folks are afraid to take initiative and lead out of the fear that “something might go wrong”. This isn’t just a problem for association groups, businesses are struggling under the weight of younger hires who are terrified to “make a mistake” in the eyes of the boss. There is no single more powerful business leadership technique than the following simple skill.
Two and a half years since the launch of the Let's Fix Construction endeavor, it brings us great joy to announce that we've been nominated for the third time for the Construction Marketing Ideas Best Construction Blog.
In 2019, we are "defending our title", as we brought home the award in 2018 after we ranked fourth in the popular vote, but due to the voting of the three judges, it pushed our blog to the top in the final evaluation. We were found to be a "a true interdisciplinary blog, and it tackles some sensitive and challenging issues affecting the architectural, engineering and construction community."
As I stated on the Young Architect podcast, “Let’s Fix Construction is not about Cherise and I; it’s about the industry. It’s about taking good pieces of knowledge and information and sharing it with the world.” From day one, we've encouraged the construction community to lend their voice and their knowledge for public consumption so that together we can better the industry and help move it forward.
We'll keep today's New Post Tuesday brief and succinct, with two calls to action:
PLEASE vote for Let's Fix Construction for Best Construction Blog. You can read the CMI summary and place your vote on their website here.
Continue to share your voice and your knowledge. We publish a new post every Tuesday and ask for you to step up and share yours in 2019. You may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can never start a conversation early enough in construction. Why is it that we wait so long to have that difficult talk? This isn't the birds and the bees with a pre-teen. This is real world ramifications that can affect many on a project.
We' are working on a flooring replacement project that we bid in April of 2018. This project has been on the verge of installation since September. We go over and above to ensure that our proposal is very clear at the time of the bid: What we will do, what we won't do and what is the responsibility of others.
It's important to note that any flooring contractor is not the Clark Kent of a renovation project. More importantly, we are not Clark Kent's alter ego, Superman, on a project. Meaning, we don't have x-ray vision. Conditions underneath existing flooring are unknown to all until the existing flooring and adhesive is removed and the base slab is 100% visible. You could have unexpected layers of flooring or adhesives, hazardous materials such as asbestos, mercury or lead, excessive concrete cracking, delaminating patching or high concrete moisture. Since we've seen each and every one of these unforeseen instances in the past, we exclude any and all subfloor preparation.
If you are preparing construction documents or readying for a flooring project yourself and you have a certain end result in mind and it needs to be included as part of the base bid contract, you need to be very exact and precise with wording. The end result should be so clear in your documents that a layman can understand the proposed scope of work.
On this particular project, the scope of work included flooring removal and to provide the following:
What's wrong with that scope? From a flooring contractor's perspective, I offer you the following response on each line item.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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