Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
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.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
I sat through a pre-construction meeting via conference call today to go over the ins and outs of our upcoming flooring installation. This project will be a combination of a renovated facility, with a new addition being constructed. We have a scope within each section, installing two dance floors in the renovated side and installing 5,000 square feet of gym flooring in the new construction.
After we were asked to review our approximate duration on site to complete our work, we were addressed with the question "how long after the slab pour can you be installing your floor? Is two weeks enough?" At first, I thought I didn't hear the general contractor right, so I didn't put much emphasis on it. But then it was posed again. The project was behind schedule, they still wanted to be completed in May and they wanted to know how soon after the slab was poured could we be in there installing the floor.
First, let me just say that we are supposed to utilize an on-slab vapor barrier as part of our synthetic gym flooring system that allows us to install up to 100% relative humidity in the concrete slab. But, but, but...two weeks after the pour? Were we really being asked that? We're going to be putting a non-breathing system on essentially a brand-new slab and then expect it to behave in a predictable manor?
Secondly, how legitimate is this actual request? All other trade work needs to be done before the flooring actually goes in. Not only does that include the HVAC system, lighting and basketball hoops, among others, but they'll all be done within those two weeks?
For the record, our flooring's installation instructions ask that "the concrete subfloor will be cured for a minimum of at least sixty (60) days.” That would put us well beyond the proposed opening date for the school. Fortunately, we can offer a two-part epoxy moisture mitigation system, which can be utilized with the only parameters being “Newly prepared concrete must be cured for 7 days”.
We addressed our timelines and concerns and wrapped up our conference call after the Owner stated his position to the General Contractor on the importance of the schedule being met. He stated that our call should have been held months ago to state that the flooring couldn't go in during such a short window after placement. But was it really necessary to tell them this months ago? Is it not common knowledge what a typical new construction duration is?
Contributed by Julia Mollner
Imagine a construction site where material waste is minimized or absent; where any excess usable material is intentionally set aside; where project teams collectively choose to reuse.
The Useful Waste Initiative was conceived with this idea in mind; the idea that preemptive intentional action can divert excess construction waste and better serve the community. As a program of Portland State University’s Center for Public Interest Design, this initiative aligns with its mission to aid underserved communities while working within the typical construction workflow. The intent of this initiative is to redefine what is considered waste, and to utilize an overlooked material resource - construction mock-ups - by re-purposing them while responding to pressing social needs.
Mock-ups play an integral role on the construction site by demonstrating and establishing high quality procedures for building systems, sequencing, and installation. Project teams use the structure to perform tests, understand material compatibility, and demonstrate design aesthetics. It is used for quality assurance and a demonstration of design. Yet, as mock-ups act to save time and money with building installation errors, these mock-ups are seen as temporary structures and typically end up at landfills, which create the opposite output: waste and emissions.
Backtrack two years ago, when the Kenton’s Women Village in Portland, Oregon was going through the development process. This village is based on other local villages such as Right 2 Dream Too, Dignity Village, and Hazelnut Grove, which have their own communal governance. The village-model provides what living on the streets often cannot - privacy, personal safety, property safety, a quiet space, access to clean drinking and bathing water, and cooking facilities. Villages are comprised of small sleeping rooms, also called “sleeping pods”, which are built by individuals or village residents to house one or two people. These sleeping pods create a communal village of residents under a self-governance. With Portland in a State of Housing Emergency, these villages started a local mindset shift. Although these “sleeping pods” do not have electricity or plumbing, they serve a critical purpose - housing first.
After my participation in the Kenton Women’s Village construction and alongside my own professional construction contract administration experience, I began questioning what purpose a mock-up could serve after use on a construction site. Do these structures - similar to tiny homes - need to go to the landfill?
Contributed by Liz O'Sullivan
I’m going to say it again: If something is required by the Specifications, it’s required by the Contract.
A procedure or item specified in the Specifications is part of the Contract, just as much as if the procedure or item were specified in the Agreement. (The Agreement is what many people usually think of as the “Contract,” because it’s the particular document that gets signed by the Owner and the Contractor, and it has the Contract Sum indicated in it. But the Agreement is only ONE PART of the Contract.)
The Contract is made up of the Agreement, the Conditions of the Contract, the Drawings, the Specifications, etc. AIA Documents state this requirement most clearly; Owner-generated Agreements and Conditions of the Contract sometimes fall short of being explicit about this. (This is one of many good reasons to use AIA Documents instead of Owner-generated documents.)
This requirement is SO IMPORTANT that it makes up ARTICLE ONE of AIA Document A101-2017 (Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Contractor where the basis of payment is a Stipulated Sum), a very commonly used Agreement.
“The Contract Documents consist of this Agreement, Conditions of the Contract (General, Supplementary and other Conditions), Drawings, Specifications, Addenda issued prior to execution of this Agreement, other documents listed in this Agreement and Modifications issued after execution of this Agreement, all of which form the Contract, and are as fully a part of the Contract as if attached to this Agreement or repeated herein.” – from Article 1 of AIA Document A101-2017
I don’t think I can say this any more clearly.
But somehow, there are a number of Contractors out there who don’t seem to realize that the Specifications are part of the Contract, and there are even a few Architects out there who don’t seem to realize that the Specifications are part of the Contract that they are supposed to be administering during construction. An Owner agrees to pay a Contractor a certain sum, the Contractor agrees to provide the Owner with certain things indicated by the Drawings and Specifications and other Contract Documents, and, in a separate Agreement, the Architect and the Owner agree that the Owner will pay the Architect a certain sum, and the Architect will administer the Contract between the Owner and the Contractor. We all have contractual obligations during construction, and we all need to understand, and follow through on, all of those obligations.
Remember, if it’s in the Specs, it’s in the Contract.
This post originally appeared on Liz O'Sullivan's website as "If It’s in the Specs, It’s in the Contract"
(Editor's Note: The CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) Construction Document Technologist (CDT) Certification is an ideal resource for this core knowledge of project delivery. Want to learn more about the CDT and the Study Groups offered for the Spring Testing window? Please visit here.
Contributed by Brian M. Fraley
To automate or not to automate? That is the question many AEC firms face when it comes to social media. Like everything else in life, there are pros and cons.
My assessment is that the cons outweigh the pros for most AEC firms. This blog; however, will attempt to objectively lay out both sides and allow you to draw your own conclusion.
What is Social Media Automation?
Social media automation may sound intimidating if your AEC firm hasn’t even mastered social media itself, but have no fear. It’s simply the use of a software or app to pre-load, schedule, and post social media content. You can also monitor relevant topics, review performance metrics, and more.
Bundle Posts and Save Time
One of the greatest benefits of automation is the ability to log in and front load multiple posts for the coming day, week, etc. Instead of logging in repeatedly and struggling to come up with content, you can sit down in a more intentional way, chunk your work, and get back to designing.
Less Interruptions, More Flow Work
Staying active on social media is disruptive to your schedule. When you’re immersed in a project, the last thing you want is to break your concentration by logging in to LinkedIn, unless your brain needs a rest, that is. For those that subscribe to the belief that interruptions stymie productivity, automation is a godsend.
Stay Social When You’re Off the Grid
Consistency is key on social media. Letting your social accounts go dormant for days or weeks can cause followers to drop off. Social media automation can allow you to post when you’re traveling or consumed by a time-sensitive project for an extended period of time.
Use Multiple Platforms
Automation software and apps are usually designed as a control center for all of your social media activity. You can connect multiple accounts and see things like retweets, mentions, new followers, and inbox messages on a single dashboard. This obviously saves time because you don’t have to log into multiple accounts.
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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