Contributed by David Bishton
Breakfast? With a specifier? You may wonder about the wisdom of such an engagement, but it is a unique experience. It occurred to me today that there are some uncanny similarities between project specification preparation and the simple (or complex) task of preparing breakfast. In this case, breakfast for a crowd.
The first thing to know is that the Specifier comes to YOUR house, either in person or virtually or both, to help YOU plan and make the breakfast. So wait, I can hear you say, the SPECIFIER DOES NOT DO ALL THE WORK? In case you hadn’t noticed I use capital letters for emphasis – I learned it from this really smart 5th grade (I assume) kid I found on Twitter. Anyway, the answer is no, but the Specifier can be your most able assistant.
So how does it work? The first thing I as a Specifier want to know is more about what’s on the menu – what did you have in mind to serve this big crowd that you’ve invited over? Oh, it’s a pot luck! You have the main course and everyone is bringing something to the table. So how can I help – what’s in the fridge?
I open the refrigerator door and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A miniature sleigh – wait, that’s from another story – a really large tray of the most beautiful eggs I’ve ever seen. And every nook and cranny stuffed with marked and unmarked containers of every size and shape. You are REALLY PROUD of those eggs! So how can I help? I can chop onions, garlic, veggies, make sausage, prepare a fruit salad, get all the herbs lined up, make toast, help set the table – I’ll even go to the store if you need something. Just tell me what you need. “First, look through this 150 page recipe and find the ingredients. Then figure out what’s in all these containers. I might be missing some things.”
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
If you haven’t read my previous blogs, as a bit of history, I have worked in Architecture for most of my career (in 3 different firms), as well as in Construction and Engineering. All of these firms did some form of public work. A couple of them performed public work almost exclusively, one of which I was at for 23 years.
I guess that is a long way of saying that I have worked on, and prepared architectural specifications, standards and documents for a ton of public projects over my 30+ year AEC career. I would venture to say that I am fairly well versed in what it takes to get a public project out the door. You could also say that I have seen it all.
For those without experience in public projects, the differences in the documents between public and private work are notable and they typically take a lot more time. Why is that you ask?
Besides the typical code compliance items that need to be addressed, public work requires compliance with public contracting laws and bidding procedures. Public contracting laws vary from State to State. In addition to State rules, you may also have to deal with Federal, City, County, Environmental, local jurisdictions and then the actual specific public agency’s rules, as well. Also, many public agencies also require at least three equal products on everything in the building to promote competitive bidding, since it is a low-bid wins environment. This is not always easy to do and there really is no such thing as perfectly “equal” products. This also leaves room for dispute.
These rules are the law and must be complied with. If they are not, a Contractor may have right to file a dispute and have the bids thrown out to force a rebid. Contractors watch for these things, as it may give them another avenue to pursue if they are not the low bidder.
To add on to the complexity, many of the specific agencies have their own front end documents (Divisions 00 and 01), which may not be coordinated with your technical specifications. Some agencies have their own technical specifications, as well. These are documents that you are expected to work with, you have never seen before and you have no background on the decision making process of the content or the qualifications of the agency staff who wrote the content. You have no idea if it is even current. And often, it isn’t.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Eugene and Portland, Oregon.
Providence, Rhode Island.
Arlington and McLean, Virginia.
Las Vegas, Nevada.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Again.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
New York, New York.
If you had told me 365 days ago that I would have presented twenty-one times in twelve cities alongside my Let's Fix Construction co-founder, Cherise Lakeside, I would have laughed at you.
Every idea has to start somewhere.
When CONSTRUCT 2017 had a call for presentations, Cherise and I submitted for a 'Let's Fix Construction' workshop. What it would entail, we weren't 100% sure, but we knew that we had to get face-to-face with individuals and start talking real time about the issues that we were all facing in construction and writing about on our website.
So, what happens when you get accepted for a presentation? Not only do you have to create the presentation, but to have it go well, you need to practice! Cherise sent out two emails to two acquaintances and within two days, we had buy-ins. Not just any guinea pigs, either, but Willamette Valley CSI in Eugene and Carleton Hart Architecture in Portland, Oregon. To tack on practice, we coordinated a CSI Portland chapter meeting in downtown Portland immediately following the Carleton Hart session.
What did we learn? Our idea worked.
People within the AEC industry WANT to talk about the issues that we're all faced with. They WANT to move things forward. They WANT to make things better. They WANT to share knowledge and implement new concepts. The mightiest problem may be that we are typically operating within the contract model, not able, or not wanting to communicate directly with parties we aren't obligated to and perhaps don't have the time or place to move the laundry list of WANTS forward.
Enter Let's Fix Construction.
We had a website that was attracting eyes. We were recognized as an independent AEC industry sounding board that was unsponsored and unbiased. We provided a place, a format and the ask to share: your knowledge, your solutions and your industry answers. Three things that can be implemented and benefited from immediately. This medium was only as good as those that found their way to LetsFixConstruction.com. The workshop, however, seemed to be a different story.
The feedback was immediate and gratifying. Everyone seemed to have a takeaway. Whether it was a Monday-morning implementation, a new contact, a laugh or a new lens, those that attended and participated were engaged. It turned out that most of the time, ninety minutes wasn't enough. People wanted to keep talking. To keep sharing. To keep brainstorming.
So, we kept going. CONSTRUCT led to CSI Chapter meetings, which led to another architectural firm, which led to talking to PROSOCO customers at World of Concrete, which led to CSI Region Conferences, which led to CSC Canada's Conference and then to New York City for PROSOCO again.
And we've got more work to do.
Total World Domination doesn’t come overnight.
I look forward to where the next 365 days will be leading Let's Fix Construction.
(If you want to find out where our next stops will be, check out our 'Upcoming Workshops' page.)
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
While hosting a Let’s Fix Construction workshop at the AIA Conference in New York City this past Friday, a theme struck me during a discussion after a team was presenting their real-world solutions to the question that was posed to them. By nature, this theme seems opposite of the AEC industry in general.
One of the many reasons why Cherise Lakeside and myself have been travelling and presenting over the last year is to help eliminate the phrase “we’ve always done it this way” in construction. The industry remains stuck in many ways and tends to not implement changes easily, nor quickly.
So, I find it nothing short of ironic that the theme that struck, the term “FAST” seems so prevalent, including one long term usage, one definition that is on the cusp and one that I’m declaring.
While not an official project delivery method on its own, the term fast-track construction seems so common in the industry nowadays, that one almost assumes the term refers to the overall pace of the construction schedule.
However, according to the CSI Project Delivery Practice Guide, ‘Fast-track (construction) is the process of overlapping activities to permit portions of construction to start prior to completion of the overall design. The project schedule may require that portions of the design and construction occur concurrently.’
It’s my belief that the presumed definition and the true definition of fast-track construction are now blurred. Overall project construction schedules and durations have been shortened for years now, even while lead times are longer than ever for certain material procurement and the workforce isn’t supporting these timelines.
Before a shovel can be put in the ground and create the new blurred definition of fast-track construction, demands are being put on designers more and more in 2018 by Owners to create what I’m going to call “Fast-track design”.
The first six (of eight) stages of the life cycle of a facility traditionally moves from project conception to project delivery to design (schematic design and design development) to construction documents to procurement to construction. While these phases could take anywhere from a few years to upwards of twenty years in the past, a new norm has compressed this timeline upwards of eighty percent in some cases. While discussing public school design with a specifier recently, they recollected how a new high school design used to be allotted eighteen to twenty-four months for design in the past and what has become all too common is the same design is now being drawn and bid in as little as six to nine months.
Registration is now open for CONSTRUCT 2018, our MUST attend construction industry conference of the year.
The co-founders of Let's Fix Construction, Eric D. Lussier and Cherise Lakeside met at CONSTRUCT in Phoenix in 2012 and have returned in each successive year since. AT CONSTRUCT 2017 in Providence, RI, Eric and Cherise were invited to participate on the CONSTRUCT Education Advisory Council with a group of other industry professionals. This effort has continued for the 2018 Conference and much work has been done to put together a dynamic program for the conference this coming October 3-5, 2018 in Long Beach, CA.
In addition to the Education Advisory Council, CONSTRUCT 2018 will be keeping Eric and Cherise busy on all three days of the conference.
On Day 1, they are both involved in the fourth annual Young Professionals Program, Cherise will be moderating the Archispeak Interactive Luncheon titled 'Real Talk About Challenges, Opportunities & Innovations Surrounding AEC Teams' and later that day, the Let's Fix Construction interactive problem-solving workshop will return for a second consecutive year.
On day 2, Eric and Cherise will co-host a new program 'Facing Danger: Public Speaking for Non-Public Speakers' and the evening will conclude with the 2nd annual Let’s Fix Construction 'Partners & Pints' party, sponsored by ClarkDietrich.
Day 3 will feature a new addition to CONSTRUCT in 2018, as Cherise will moderate the 'Millennial Power Panel' session, with more details below.
While Cherise and Eric (Let’s Fix Construction) will be busy this year at CONSTRUCT in their continuing total world domination effort, there are a host of great educational sessions from many well respected members of the AEC Community in addition to project tours, networking events, parties, show floor education, product information and much more. Check out the official CONSTRUCT Press Release below and register soon and save up to $230 with Early Bird Pricing when you register by 06/13.
CONSTRUCT, the only national show dedicated to commercial building teams that spec and source materials, has announced a slight change in the show’s format for 2018. CONSTRUCT is introducing Thought Leader and Power Panel Sessions this year, replacing the Keynote Speaker and Game Changer Speaker. These four new sessions will feature key industry leaders speaking on trending topics that are affecting the AEC industry today. The Thought Leader speakers include Rosa T. Sheng, Brok Howard, and Paul Doherty. The Power Panel session will involve successful millennial professionals.
Rosa T. Sheng, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a Principal and Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion at SmithGroupJJR and AIA SF President 2018. She is also the Founding Chair for Equity by Design, which has launched a national movement for achieving equitable practice and design in architecture since 2018. Rosa’s session, titled ‘Why Equity Matters for everyone – A New Value Proposition for Design', will frame the discussion on how we can adopt a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion.
Brok Howard, is a Technical Account Manager at dRofus Inc. where he leads the effort in implementation, training, and support for all North America. He has over 20 years of experience in the AEC industry, including teaching at Washington University in St. Louis and as a BIM Manager at HOK. Brok’s session titled 'Knowledge Transfer – An Ethical Responsibility for AEC Professionals', will focus on our responsibility and duty to prepare the next generation with the knowledge we share.
Paul Doherty, the President and CEO of the Digit Group, is an award-winning architect, specifier, and adviser to Fortune 500 organizations and government agencies. He is also one of the co-founders of the AEC Hackathon. His current work is focused on Smart City real estate developments for the USA and abroad. Paul’s session titled 'The Digital Transformation of Specifications' will discuss a new age of specifications driving digital transformations that could only have been dreamed about just a few years ago.
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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