Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
I have one goal with this blog. One crazy idea that if I can get some people to read this, they will change the way they work.
That goal? READ the DIVISION 01 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS in the specifications of your project.
I know what some of my friendly compatriots are going to say when they see that sentence. They are going to say “Cherise, that’s a no brainer!” I mean, really, am I writing a blog about something so simple? Damned right I am.
A few years ago, I wrapped up almost six years of working for an MEP engineering firm. This was a very unique opportunity to work on yet another side of the fence in AEC: to see how the other half lives. It was an opportunity to see why some of the breakdowns I saw were happening between the Architect and the Consultants.
It was both an eye opening experience and a wake-up call. Many of the things that I had complained about during my previous 23 years at an architectural firm, when it came to communicating and coordinating with consultants, were actually my fault. I got to look in the mirror and admit that I had been wrong. It was my job to coordinate the appropriate information with consultants, but because I didn’t understand how they worked and what knowledge they had, I did not do that coordination thoroughly or effectively.
Once I realized that there was a much more limited exposure to the entirety of the documents for consultants, no education in contract documents and almost no appropriate sharing of knowledge from the Architect to the consultants, I knew I had to change something.
That was when I created my first “Specs 101” class. The very first one was geared toward consultants and engineers. A 50,000 foot view to understanding all the pieces and parts of the Specifications that were not being shared with them, the common places that need coordination and just general education on where the information belongs and who is responsible for that information. It also covered how that information will sometimes clash. Can you say, “Access Panels”?!?!
The class was very well received and I took it even further in developing an Architect/Consultant Coordination checklist for the most common things that created conflict, missing information or repeated information.
Contributed by Jake Ortego
Construction projects can be highly complex and unique endeavors. A successful project relies on each person/company performing their function as required. However, in many cases the exact roles and responsibilities of each entity is not mutually agreed upon, nor understood. Consider the following contrasts in expected functions.
Chances are that you have an opinion for each one of these examples. These examples focus on the architect, owner, and constructor. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more parties involved in the construction process and each major group can be made up of multiple professions with a wide range of functions, as well as approaches, to accomplish their scope. This includes estimators, schedulers, specifiers, owner’s reps, material reps, accountants, and legal counsel to name a few.
As you read this, you are probably thinking that you already know who does what for the entire construction process. And it’s possible that your views are shared by people within your company or some of your local professional groups. But the standards can vary between industries, geography, project complexity, corporations, and even between two people sitting next to each other. To be clear, the primary definitions of many project roles can be agreed upon. Estimators estimate, schedulers schedule, engineers engineer, and so forth. But gray areas of responsibilities do exist, and it is these areas that may be the root of disagreements that can derail a project.
So, what is the solution? A universal standard may seem to be the easiest answer. But imagine the complexities of having one standard that covers every possible industry, culture, and available resources for each project. Ideal…but probably not achievable.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier and Michael Riscica
In early October, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Michael Riscica for his Young Architect podcast. For those of you who don't know Michael, he contributed a fantastic piece to our website entitled "Let's Fix Mentorship", which I strongly suggest you read here.
Michael is a Licensed Architect who is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. After becoming licensed, Michael was frustrated by the lack of support, bad advice and misinformation he had during the years between graduating architecture school and becoming a licensed Architect. In early 2014 he began blogging at YoungArchitect.com to address that problem and launched his podcast earlier this year. Cherise Lakeside of Let's Fix Construction was featured on an episode entitled 'Expanding Your Knowledge through CSI and CDT' which you can listen to here.
On his podcast, Michael and I discussed:
And of course, we discussed 'Let's Fix Construction', including:
While you await the next 'Let's Fix Construction' technical post or podcast episode, PLEASE go over to the Young Architect website and listen to 'Let's Fix Construction with Eric Lussier'
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside and Eric D. Lussier
LetsFixConstruction.com was born on a whim a little over a year ago. A glimmer of an idea based in a passion to help our industry improve. A thought that we could bring all members of our industry, from all disciplines, to the table to collaborate and share knowledge rather than to continue to complain or point fingers.
We launched this effort with no real solid plan for what it would look like or how we wanted to make it happen. We just knew that we wanted a place where we could all come together with positive, forward thinking solutions and a place to share knowledge for better understanding, resulting in an improved project delivery process and built environment. We’re presently calling it ‘visionary logic’ but we are still looking for a better phrase than ‘thinking outside the box’.
With a ‘Go Big or Go Home’ attitude, we decided to just run with it and see where it would go. We can honestly say that neither of us were quite prepared for the response. It was clear to us, from very early on, that people needed this place. People in our industry were hungry for a place to stop complaining and get better.
We started with blogs. We wrote some of them and invited friends, peers and guest bloggers to write others with a simple premise: Pose a problem you face and your perspective on how to make it better. Share your knowledge. It’s that simple. A little over a year in, our stable of guest bloggers is over 24 knowledgeable industry professionals and growing.
Somewhere midway through our first year, after seeing such an overwhelmingly positive response to the blogs, we brainstormed ways to take it even further. With two brains that are constantly in high gear and a passion to go bigger, we thought ‘What if we could take these problems that people face and get them talking about them? Face to face, at the same table.’ In the blink of an eye, our Let’s Fix Construction Workshop was born. A problem solving, interactive and dynamic event geared at getting people to openly discuss issues in our industry with people they often don’t appropriately communicate with.
We now have eight workshops under our belt with a ninth and tenth in Atlanta on November 13th. In addition, we have at least eight workshops tentatively planned for 2018 and have added a slate of other programs to our growing list outside of our namesake session. Again, the response was overwhelming. Again, we found that our industry NEEDS this environment of sharing in a positive manner, more now than ever. We hope to do these workshops and presentations all over the country. Maybe even the world!
So why did it feel like something was still missing?
"Symbiosis: The Importance of Collaboration between the Owner, Architect, & Contractor"
Contributed by Marvin Kemp
We all have ideas, beliefs and issues that we bring to the collective construction table for each project. Those individual ideas, beliefs and issues come together to form the culture of the project team. Part of the benefit I receive from CSI is better understanding of each team member’s ideas, beliefs and issues which helps me serve my clients better. It also helps me shape the culture of the project team in positive ways, which also helps the projects be better. Construction professionals should always be analyzing what is said and written on a project to better understand the motivations behind what is said and ultimately what is done. We should work collectively, collaboratively on behalf of our projects, our companies and our clients.
In construction, we have relationships of mutual benefit or dependence, too. Owners select architects and contractors, through some method of procurement. Architects and contractors then rely on each other for information and assistance to finish the built product. If we owe the ability to perform our work to our clients and we have to rely on others to get the work completed, why can construction be so adversarial? It doesn’t have to be.
This presentation at CONSTRUCT will compare and contrast two construction projects with varying levels of trust and interdependence. These two projects are similar only in that they are both health education facilities built at public universities in the eastern United States. They are in different states and at institutions with different missions. One is a very small, two story school of nursing. The other is a very large, 10 story school of dentistry. One had a passive owner while the other had an owner team with many different architects, engineers and construction professionals all voicing their opinions. One utilized traditional design-bid-build delivery while the other utilized the CM at Risk delivery method. Both had “red flags” that if noticed and acted upon could have allowed the project to move more smoothly and to a more fulfilling resolution for the ownership team, design team and construction team.
Using these two projects as real world examples, this presentation will point to specific “red flags” that project participants should have seen in these projects that pointed to potential problems coming to the project team. Attendees will be given specific strategies that if acted upon, will help the projects they are involved in to run much more smoothly and to a better conclusion.
As active and caring project team participants, we can all influence what happens during construction. If we exhibit the proper attitudes and act in proper ways, the project culture will be enhanced and we will all be more fulfilled with the end result.
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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