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 Sheldon Wolfe
In the last few years, it has been proposed that owners might benefit from hiring specifiers directly; it has even been suggested that specifiers might help owners choose architects. Specific aspects of these ideas, and of related issues, were addressed by member presentations at the Construction Specifications Institute's (CSI) annual convention over the last handful of years.
In 2014, at the convention in Baltimore, several Institute directors and interested members met to discuss a report that had been submitted to the Institute board by Ujjval Vyas, PhD, of the Alberti Group. This report, titled "The Risk Management Value of Specifications," was prepared at the request of CSI. The report's Executive Summary noted conditions that would surprise few specifiers: Specification software is beginning to replace activities traditionally done by a specifier; contractors are becoming more involved in specifications, especially in design-build projects; and specifiers suffer from the Rodney Dangerfield syndrome - their value often is not appreciated by their employers, with commensurate effect on stature, compensation, and opportunity for advancement.
What will happen to specifiers in the next decade? Will they be replaced by software? Will they shed the grunt work of word processing and become even more valuable, devoting their time to product research, coordination of documents, and adding intelligence to the building model? Or will they simply fade away?
Just as has happened with drawing - we moved from linen to vellum to digital images, and we moved from drafting to CAD to building modeling, yet all of these options remain in use - all of the above possibilities for specifiers will exist in some degree, and it's possible someone will continue using a typewriter to write specifications. But which of these possibilities, or what combination of them, will be most common?
What I see suggests the answer won't be to the liking of most specifiers. Specifying software will get better, it will extract more information from the building model, it will get easier to use, it will further automate editing of specifications, and it will be seen as a replacement for specifiers. Contractors will continue to increase their importance during construction, and designers will continue to lose credibility with clients. Will specifiers soon find themselves in the unemployment line?
What happens, both to specifiers and to specifying as a career, will be affected by what specifiers do to influence the discussion. If they do nothing, they will be further marginalized, and though they might not be laid off, they may not be replaced when they leave. Based on what I've seen, that is the likely course.
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.
Contributed by Elias Saltz
As a consulting specifier, my clients come for my expertise. To bolster my knowledge, I frequently find myself in conversations with product reps, talking about the nitty-gritty technical aspects of their products. These conversations delve into a far deeper level of detail than I would previously get when I was a ‘normal’ design architect and project manager. Over the course of those conversations, I am occasionally surprised that things I thought I knew a lot about were based on misconceptions. In fact, even things that I considered “common knowledge” have been shown to be wrong, or at least over-simplifications. Armed with accurate information, I can pass correct technical advice on to my clients, hopefully dispelling those misconceptions one person at a time, one project at a time.
Misconceptions can be found across the spectrum, in every product category and in every MasterFormat number. I thought it would be fun and enlightening to ask my go-to reps in a wide variety of product categories to tell me the biggest and most common misconceptions they hear as they work with designers and architects, and present their responses here. In each post, I’ll relate my discussion with reps in one category or one MasterFormat header.
The reps I chose to approach for this post, Kurt Wenzel from YKK AP and John Stelter from EFCO Corporation, are both active and involved CSI members that I’ve come to know well over my career. I consider them my trusted advisors when it comes to questions about their companies’ lines of fenestration products. I’m not promoting their products over their competitors’ - it’s far more about the individual reps than the companies that they work for.
08 43 13 - Aluminum-Framed Storefronts
Introduction to Storefronts:
Webster defines storefront as “The front side of store or store building facing a street.” The use of storefront products dates all the way back to the 1930’s, and the systems of today have changed very little from the original design. The design intent of the storefront sash and glass originally was to allow for shopkeepers to display their wares to pedestrians who would pass by their stores. They aimed to entice them to stop and look with the hopes of attracting them inside.
Aluminum-framed storefronts are basically extrusions of aluminum that are fabricated and assembled to allow for glass (or other infills) to be installed into the system, providing a see-through weather barrier between the inside and outside of the building. The extrusions are normally 1-3/4 to 2 inches wide by 4 to 4½ inches deep; systems 6 inches deep are available from some manufacturers. Systems intended for use on buildings’ exteriors usually are fabricated with a thermal break lined up with the center of glass. The thermal break reduces heat energy loss through the system, preserving energy and minimizing condensation. That thermal break is omitted when the storefront is located on the interior, such as in a vestibule.
With storefront systems, the entire extrusion is structural, there are no non-structural pressure caps or decorative covers like there are in curtain wall systems. Multiple configurations are available, and all are conceptually equivalent, other than the plane of the glass. Configurations include structural glazed, front, center, and rear glazed systems.
CSI’s Specifier Practice Group recently held a webinar session discussing how storefronts, windows, curtain walls and window walls are made and how they’re distinguished from one another in performance and in their use. The video of that webinar is available here.
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.
Get NEW post notifications here