Contributed by Roy Schauffele
Late fall and during all winter, concerns and problems arise with air barrier applications on CMU (Concrete Masonry Unit). I know because I get the phone calls. Generally speaking, the fluid applied water-based vapor permeable air barriers go on OK but take a long time to cure or set.
Additionally, I’ve observed a myriad of job site problems with self-adhered vapor impermeable sheets, flashings and tapes. The vapor impermeable materials were applied properly but exhibited blistering and lack of adhesion within days. When investigated there was always liquid water on the adhered side of these sheets.
Observations of quite a few jobs leads me to state that, in this investigation, the vast majority of “problem” jobs had the following in common:
OK, let’s deal with what will lead to an excellent new construction air barrier installation and long-term performance:
1. If the Architect/Specifier has specified a dry water repellent in the CMU, it is already causing a potential problem with the adhesion of a water-based air barrier or primer. This issue has been written about previously in an article in Coatings Pro Magazine July 2018 “Legacy Specifications, Wall and Air Barrier Performance”. The Air Barrier installer absolutely needs to make the Architect/Specifier aware of this prior to bid.
2. If the project is wide open with doors, bay doors and windows not finished or openings not protected from water entry, then a tremendous amount of water can enter the CMU causing some of the problems referenced above. The top of the walls and window openings should be treated in such a way as to prevent water from running in to these open areas.
One of my friends and great technical writer in Austin, TX, Mr. Dave Watts, RA, has the following statement in his specifications: Section 04 20 00, 3.18 PROTECTION OF FINISHED WORK, 3.18.e “Protect tops of masonry with waterproof coverings secured in place without damaging masonry. Provide coverings where masonry is exposed to weather when work is not in progress.”
Contributed by Jori Smith
So, you have a non-Design-Bid-Build (DBB) project on the boards? Hurrah!
Collaborative project delivery methods such as Construction Management At-Risk (CMAR) have a proven track record of improving project outcomes for everyone. This is a different way of doing things though, and we all must adapt to the new normal. Are you evolving, or hanging on to old habits? Here are some ways that the A/E (Architect/Engineer) team can short circuit a successful process.
Having Meetings Without the Contractor
Anticipate that your builder will be included in all project planning activities and emails. A truly collaborative team works together as much as possible and appreciates the extra brain cells solving problems. The project benefits from builder attendance even at programming sessions with users, where the opportunity to learn about the priorities of both the client and the designer will affect feedback down the road.
Not Taking Advantage of Your Partner's Field Skills
Camera scoping of existing piping, roofing cores, investigative demolition inside walls or above ceilings, and surveying. I've had to BEG designers for lists of field verifications helpful to the project. This is a chance to change the reliance upon as-built documents provided by the Owner. Can we reduce, or even eliminate "unforeseen" conditions? Dare to dream!
Figuring it Out on Your Own
The construction team brings access to trade skill sets and constructability experience. In addition, they have been exposed to a diversity of project experience with multiple designers - some of whom might have had a great idea or two. We want to help you solve system/assembly problems while the project is still in design.
Letting the Engineers Put Off Progress Until You Finish "Moving Walls"
This is one of the most effective ways to cut the pre-construction process off at the knees. The builder cannot provide the estimating and constructability services we've been contracted to do when provided empty floor plans on the engineering sheets. Anyhow, BIM is forcing the team to make decisions earlier too, so this is a habit that needs to be broken.
Leaving Out the Details
The project will still be competitively bid by, all or most of the subs, and they need that information for an accurate scope. Sure, the builder at the pre-construction table heard you say “that” months ago (and may even remember), but she/he can’t be charged with communicating your design decisions to the bidders –unless you want to let her/him have the authority for those decisions. To maintain control of design and protect the Owner from unnecessary change costs, a fully complete set of construction documents must be provided.
Forgetting About the Bidding Documents
Again - the subcontracts are still being competitively bid. Additionally, all of Division 01 likely still applies and will require a thorough review by both teams, as changes are generally needed to align the requirements with the project delivery method.
Not Taking Advantage of Scheduling Options
Changes are inherent in the pre-construction process. We're working together to make them now, instead of later – because later costs the owner money in change orders. This is an opportunity to reconsider putting out incomplete or uncoordinated drawings just to hit a milestone date. Ask how your builder can adapt the schedule to give you more time to finish. Early work packages are a fantastic tool. Give me the foundation and steel, I'll get started while you finish the door hardware schedule. Fast track concepts are easily incorporated into these projects.
I’ve had several A/E professionals tell me that public procurement must be DBB. Not so! There are several states which are allowing CMAR and Design-Build. Encourage your lawmakers to open the process and allow other project delivery methodologies. While no delivery method is perfect, there are definite advantages to be had from partnering with the construction team - leading to a more successful project for all.
Contributed by Michael Chambers
In my 25-plus years as a specifier I have been an independent consultant and in-house project specifier. I have had the privilege of working with a wide variety of designers, project architects, and interior designers. I have developed specifications for projects ranging from room additions to a billion-dollar hospital.
Recently on 4Specs.com, someone asked the question, “How to work effectively with Specification Writer?
In my opinion and experience, the more knowledgeable a design professional is about specification processes, the more effectively they can work with specifiers. Probably the best project architect I have ever worked with was a gentleman at Ellerbe Becket in Minneapolis. He was incredibly knowledgeable about specification processes and how they integrated with drawings. He also hated writing specs. He would ask me the most insightful questions about what he was drawing and how it should be specified. He understood the process and how to make it work for his projects.
In explaining to design professionals what they need to understand about specifications, I would ask them to consider the following issues and concepts.
Every design professional has expectations for a certain level of quality in their projects. One key element that is often overlooked or underestimated in projects is quality. How do you accomplish the design concept and protect your design intent? How do you indicate the levels of quality that are appropriate for your client’s needs and budget?
Specifications, that’s how. Drawings have no qualitative aspects; they indicate size, shape, and relationship but not quality. Specifications are all about quality. They contain critical procedures and product information that allow the design professional to stay in control of the review and approval processes that affect the design concept.
Also, the boring bit about formats and standardized places for information are critical in limiting omissions by acting as checklists and highly effective coordination tools.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
In a few short days, Cherise and I will once again jump on a plane and converge on a new locale to spread the Let’s Fix Construction message. A new conference, and with that, a new audience, awaits in Anaheim at the AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference to hear a little about the who and a little more about the why behind what we’re doing.
With LFC being founded steeply in our Construction Specifications Institute roots and beliefs, much of the message of LFC and CSI remains in our closed loop circles if we do not do our part in getting in touch with the onlookers and informing new individuals about the who, the what and the why in 2019 and beyond.
These continued opportunities will never cease to amaze me. Cherise and I go into each one grateful for the chance to spread the message of Let’s Fix Construction and to perhaps spark an AHA! moment for even one of our attendees. For I truly believe that it only takes one person to walk away from one of our workshops to know that we’ve done our part. One person to tell us after attendance that they could feel our passion for what we’re doing. One person to say that they got more out of one session than a year of box lunches.
And Cherise and I are just two voices for Let’s Fix Construction. With our Speed Mentoring session in Anaheim, Let’s Fix Construction becomes dozens of voices, encompassing hundreds of years of construction experience, which will be conveyed to dozens more new receptors of our message and mission.
The AEC industry is undergoing monumental change and culture shifts and the next twenty years are vital to not only our future, but our children’s, grandchildren’s and great grandchildren's future. It’s important for all of us to continue to spread our knowledge and experience, and personally for Cherise and me, our mission and our passion that we deploy within Let’s Fix Construction.
You may not have the opportunity to join us in Anaheim at AEC Next, but there will be other chances. We’re always listening and open for new formats to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
Contributed by Mike Lapre
When surety companies are asked to provide bonding for individuals or companies, the level of credit which is involved can generally be determined by a fairly universal formula which is observed by the surety industry. That formula is based on what is known as the three C's, and these are factors which will serve as a strong guideline for determining just how much credit can safely be extended to any bonding applicant. Those three C's are described below, so that if you have a fairly clear idea of how your company rates in each of these three areas, you should also have a fairly clear idea of just what level of credit you're eligible for.
Any underwriter who is trying to evaluate an applicant's character will take into account their personal credit history, their business credit history, their track record for paying bills, reputation in the community, any public liens or judgments, and their management experience. Any of these areas which are found to be weak or questionable will definitely have an impact on the underwriter's decision, although it probably would not disqualify an individual from becoming bonded.
There are also ways in which you can improve on these areas, so that you're more likely to be bonded for the amount you want. Obviously one of these areas is to make sure that you pay your bills on time consistently, and that you catch up on any outstanding old bills you may have. It's a good idea to have lines of credit available to you, but it would be better if they are not used often. It's always good to keep an updated resume on hand, in case it's needed for consultation by a bonding agent.
You should be able to explain any negative lines or mistakes on your credit history, or any past-due items which appear there, whether or not you caused them. You should always be as honest as possible with your bonding agent, and consult with them whenever there are any major financial events which have occurred to your business. By being forthright on all these issues, you'll have a much better chance of achieving the level of bonding that you are hoping for.
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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