Contributed by Lauren Anderson
(Editor's Note: Fellowship is the second highest honor that CSI bestows, recognizing outstanding individuals by elevating members whose efforts on behalf of the Institute's purposes and principles have been exemplary. The qualifications for Fellowship require achievement above and beyond participating in ordinary Institute, region, and chapter events or performing normal duties as an Institute officer. A nominee for Fellowship must have been a member in good standing with the Institute for not less than five years, and have made important contributions in one or more of four categories: advancement of construction technology; improvement of construction specifications; education; or service. The following address was given the morning after the 2017 Investiture of Fellows at a breakfast, where Fellows are encouraged to attend this annual session to address the business issues of the College of Fellows.)
Thank you for having me this morning at the Fellows breakfast. I am honored and humbled to have been asked to speak on behalf of Young Professionals across the country to some of the most esteemed members of CSI. First, I’d just like to personally thank Cherise Lakeside for thinking of me for this presentation. I’d also like to thank Rick Lueb for his guidance and finally, thank the College of Fellows for being supportive of young people all over our organization so we can write the next chapter of CSI history.
Congratulations to the newly inducted Fellows! I hope you enjoyed last night’s awards ceremony and festivities celebrating your incredible accomplishments over many years. Your commitment to CSI is inspiring, and lays the foundation for a stronger association going forward.
Many of you may know me from Twitter, or I might know you by way of Middle Atlantic Region events, but I’d like to start by briefly giving you my background. I am a 2009 graduate of Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. I was on the five-year plan – which I don’t recommend if you want to keep costs down! My time at Marymount was wonderful, but when I ventured off to college at 17, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I bobbed between political science and accounting, finally landing on business management. I felt the pressure of the 2008 economic downturn and felt that if I were to choose something “too specific”, I may not have a job right away out of school. A general business degree felt safe. After interviewing with several Northern Virginia companies for positions I wasn’t overly interested in, I approached my Dad, Paul Conners, one day to discuss the possibility of working for him for a while after graduation to get my feet wet in sales. He graciously offered me an opportunity to work the Richmond/Tidewater market. The following day after graduation, I started visiting with glazing contractors – “thrown to the wolves” if you will. No real training, just brochures in hand visiting new accounts. I’m grateful to this day that the COO of a large contractor glazier in Richmond, recognized my inexperience right away and offered to show me the ropes so I could learn about my products, but better, how I could service glazing contractors as a sales rep. Eventually, my territory expanded to D.C. and I was asked to visit with architects. I knew I wasn’t there to sell products, but I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with this new role. I promptly joined CSI at the suggestion of a specifier, Robert Tarasovich. More on that next. Six years, one CDT and now President of my chapter, I am only beginning the journey of a lifelong affair with CSI.
"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.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier & Cherise Lakeside
Part I: Written by Eric D. Lussier - Co-Founder - Let's Fix Construction
A year certainly goes by faster than it used to. This past year? Even more so.
One year ago, a spur of the moment conversation with my friend, Cherise Lakeside, spawned my squirrel brain to kick into action. After discussing the continued ills of the construction industry for seemingly the umpteenth time, something clicked. We could continue talking about these issues, or, better yet, we could try and correct these issues. We knew we weren’t the only ones facing hurdles in the office or in the field. There had to be others. We had to do something about it.
Three hours later, I presented Cherise with www.LetsFixConstruction.com, complete with its first two blog posts, 'The Fifth C of CSI: Collaboration' and 'Product Manufacturers: Are You Doing it Right? Construction Education for Product Reps'. In addition to the website I created a Facebook page, a Twitter and Instagram account and an official hashtag: #FixConstruction.
The concept was simple, share your gripe, but offer positive, left of center solutions to the problem at hand. We both recognized some of the shortcomings of the AEC industry – the aversion to technology adoption, the skilled labor shortage and communication issues among plenty of others. It was finally time to admit the problems, engage individuals to discuss them and publish proactive solutions for all to benefit from.
Response was immediately enthusiastic. But we knew the voices couldn’t be just ours. It needed to be anyone and everyone in AEC who saw an issue and had a solution. Each person we asked were happy to contribute posts and offer their view. In this past year we’ve gained twenty-some contributors and have stayed true to our initial mission: to better the industry by sharing our knowledge, openly communicating & encouraging collaboration, all while being an unsponsored and unbiased platform.
We've received two best of construction blog nominations and in the process Mark Buckshon of ConstructionMarketingIdeas.com said 'This blog is one of the most solid interdisciplinary resources for architects, engineers, contractors and specifiers I’ve seen in the business.' Not too bad for a side project that launched over Twitter direct messaging.
Contributed by David Stutzman
We see it time and again. The deadline approaches. The rush is on. All the delayed decisions and tasks are now urgent.
Stress builds. Checking stops. Mistakes happen. Coordination suffers. Quality erodes. Time runs out. Then comes the refrain, “We’ll catch it in the addendum.” The A/E is already spending his construction administration budget.
And, ultimately, the Owner pays!
Getting it right the first time ultimately saves time, avoids unnecessary costs, and relieves stress. Think about the consequences and the conclusion is obvious.
What Are the Consequences?
Let’s review a hypothetical project after the deadline. The documents are issued for bidding. The bidder receives the documents and checks to be sure he has everything that is required to develop his bid. He checks the specifications table of contents and compares the listed sections to those actually bound in the project manual. He also checks the drawing list against the drawing set.
What is he likely to find? Missing or “extra” documents that are not named as part of the bid set? Documents with titles or numbers that do not match the list? Next step – RFI, and the bidder hasn’t even looked at the technical content. What else awaits discovery for potential Change Order?
The bidder writes the RFI, creates a transmittal, and sends it to the A/E. “Hey, Mr. A/E, I just received your bid set documents. What you said was included does not match what you sent. Would you please explain the discrepancies?” Translation: If this A/E can’t get the document list right, what can I expect of the content?
The A/E’s clerk receives the RFI and logs it in. The clerk sends it to the project manager who reads it, decides who must respond, and returns it for distribution. The RFI is distributed to the project team. The team members review and respond. The project manager assembles all the responses, drafts a reply to the bidder, and collects the revised documents from the team.
By the way, Owner tend to notice RFIs. Some may rate the A/E by the number of RFI and Change Orders. The more the bidders question missing or inaccurate information, the more the Owner’s faith in the A/E erodes. That faith may be critical, later, when defending a claim.
But wait! It’s not so simple now. Once issued for bid, documents can only be changed by addenda. Drawing revisions must be clouded. Spec changes must be tracked. Each revision must be formally issued to modify or replace the previous issue.
What Time Does the Process Take?
Make your own assessment. I believe, on average, each RFI is a minimum of 8 hours – just for the design team. This is only the first RFI just to confirm the bidder has the right set of documents. How many more might there be?
Meanwhile, the bidder is reviewing the content for the first barrage. The more the bidder finds the more his confidence in the documents erodes. The less the confidence, the greater the price to compensate for the perceived document quality and assumed risk.
Let the Owner Pay Less!
Bids include both the cost of construction and the bidder’s risk. Maximizing document quality reduces bidders’ risk and associated costs. Plus it also reduces the design team’s construction administration time and costs. A/Es have long lamented their cost overruns during construction administration. Managing document quality allows A/Es to reduce their risks during construction administration.
When risks are reduced, fees can reflect the reduced risk. Reduced fees and better quality will put design teams at a decided advantage when pursuing the next commission.
The Owner pays less and the A/E improves profits! What a combination.
Plan for Quality
Stop the stress and improve the documents. Adopt a workflow that promotes decisions and creates information when both are needed. Address all the easy issues first. Get them out of the way early. Then focus on the more difficult and important issue.
Require a simple step to improve coordination. Insist that entire design team develop a proposed list of specification sections during Schematic Design. Maintain, update, and distribute the list regularly as the design develops. Or better, yet, use a live, collaborative document, accessible by the entire team. Add notes and questions to the list about the major products and systems that will be included in each specification. Use the specifications list as the powerful coordination tool it can be.
Schedule time for quality checking and correcting. Set an early completion date for drawings and specifications before the end of each design phase. Distribute a check set. If possible, arrange for an independent review by staff members not on the design team.
Schedule reviews. Allow time to make the necessary corrections and complete the coordination. Follow the schedule.
(Editor's note: This blog post, along with numerous others, appeared originally on the Conspectus website. You can view an archive of Conspectus' posts here.)
Contributed by Jon Lattin
Editor's note: If you haven't read the first post, 'Let's Build a Future for Women in AEC', please read it here.
Close to one month after the inaugural Let’s Build Camp began, we have taken a deep breath and are now reflecting on the outcomes of our week. Did we accomplish what we set out to do?
Let’s Build Construction Camp for Girls started as a vision to introduce young girls to the AEC industry. It was designed to allow them to explore the construction trades, architecture, engineering, and construction product manufacturing through hands on experiences and field trips. In this mission, the camp was an overwhelming success. Twenty young ladies of varying experiences and capabilities learned key construction principles as they built and finished wall sections. Through this hands on approach, they experienced carpentry, electrical, HVAC, plumbing, masonry, and painting while being exposed to green building, the principles of cement and metal roof manufacturing, and design with BIM. To see pictures of our camp, please visit www.letsbuildcamp.com.
In retrospect though, the camp was so much more than a construction camp, it became a camp of life skills training. Problem solving, managing team dynamics, respecting others, listening to instruction and executing tasks based on them are all skills that naturally evolved during the course of the weeklong camp. These are all attributes that we as adults deal with on a daily basis, both in work and at home. The girls experienced these realities of life through the course of building their walls in small teams of four.
After kicking off camp with an ice breaker activity and a factory tour, the girls were grouped by skill level and then teams were created by pulling a girl from each level. This attempt at equalizing the teams worked perfectly as the girls with more experience and skills became team mentors to the girls with less experience. Seizing this opportunity to build leaders, we were able to harness this informal mentorship to allow the girls a chance to lead the teams, resulting in confidence building for both the “leader” and the “students”. A shining moment for each team came as they turned on their lights for the first time, with smiles beaming from ear to ear as they flipped the switch and saw the results of their efforts working successfully.
Another gratifying time was the last day when the teams painted their walls. We expected the girls to paint the walls with a single color and to be finished with their work. In reality though, this was the first opportunity that they could be free to express themselves, since most of the work up to that point was defined for them by the construction documents and instruction. The teams showed creativity and style as they all added their own personal flair to their creations, resulting in five completely different wall sections.
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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