Contributed by Jake Ortego
Construction projects can be highly complex and unique endeavors. A successful project relies on each person/company performing their function as required. However, in many cases the exact roles and responsibilities of each entity is not mutually agreed upon, nor understood. Consider the following contrasts in expected functions.
Chances are that you have an opinion for each one of these examples. These examples focus on the architect, owner, and constructor. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more parties involved in the construction process and each major group can be made up of multiple professions with a wide range of functions, as well as approaches, to accomplish their scope. This includes estimators, schedulers, specifiers, owner’s reps, material reps, accountants, and legal counsel to name a few.
As you read this, you are probably thinking that you already know who does what for the entire construction process. And it’s possible that your views are shared by people within your company or some of your local professional groups. But the standards can vary between industries, geography, project complexity, corporations, and even between two people sitting next to each other. To be clear, the primary definitions of many project roles can be agreed upon. Estimators estimate, schedulers schedule, engineers engineer, and so forth. But gray areas of responsibilities do exist, and it is these areas that may be the root of disagreements that can derail a project.
So, what is the solution? A universal standard may seem to be the easiest answer. But imagine the complexities of having one standard that covers every possible industry, culture, and available resources for each project. Ideal…but probably not achievable.
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside and Eric D. Lussier
LetsFixConstruction.com was born on a whim a little over a year ago. A glimmer of an idea based in a passion to help our industry improve. A thought that we could bring all members of our industry, from all disciplines, to the table to collaborate and share knowledge rather than to continue to complain or point fingers.
We launched this effort with no real solid plan for what it would look like or how we wanted to make it happen. We just knew that we wanted a place where we could all come together with positive, forward thinking solutions and a place to share knowledge for better understanding, resulting in an improved project delivery process and built environment. We’re presently calling it ‘visionary logic’ but we are still looking for a better phrase than ‘thinking outside the box’.
With a ‘Go Big or Go Home’ attitude, we decided to just run with it and see where it would go. We can honestly say that neither of us were quite prepared for the response. It was clear to us, from very early on, that people needed this place. People in our industry were hungry for a place to stop complaining and get better.
We started with blogs. We wrote some of them and invited friends, peers and guest bloggers to write others with a simple premise: Pose a problem you face and your perspective on how to make it better. Share your knowledge. It’s that simple. A little over a year in, our stable of guest bloggers is over 24 knowledgeable industry professionals and growing.
Somewhere midway through our first year, after seeing such an overwhelmingly positive response to the blogs, we brainstormed ways to take it even further. With two brains that are constantly in high gear and a passion to go bigger, we thought ‘What if we could take these problems that people face and get them talking about them? Face to face, at the same table.’ In the blink of an eye, our Let’s Fix Construction Workshop was born. A problem solving, interactive and dynamic event geared at getting people to openly discuss issues in our industry with people they often don’t appropriately communicate with.
We now have eight workshops under our belt with a ninth and tenth in Atlanta on November 13th. In addition, we have at least eight workshops tentatively planned for 2018 and have added a slate of other programs to our growing list outside of our namesake session. Again, the response was overwhelming. Again, we found that our industry NEEDS this environment of sharing in a positive manner, more now than ever. We hope to do these workshops and presentations all over the country. Maybe even the world!
So why did it feel like something was still missing?
Contributed by Roy F. Schauffele
I opened up my business in Texas on July 4, 1987 and have been in continuous operation since then. When I came to Texas about 65 to 70% of the leak issues I dealt with were roof related, now the vast majority of building envelope leaks that I handle are related to the walls and windows. There are a variety of reasons for these problems:
We all need to realize that today’s walls are being designed for a 40+ year life span and we must adjust our thinking accordingly. Product warranties could be a good indicator of how long the product is anticipated to last. We must also realize that the total installed cost of a flashing system should be taken into serious consideration, and not just the cost of materials. The Brick Institute Association (BIA) has excellent Tech Notes 7 & 7A (Click for link) on this topic at www.gobrick.com/Technical-Notes. This is one of the reference resources I use.
Please remember that for through wall flashing to work properly, the flashing material/assembly must extend beyond the face of the mortar.
Today’s cavity walls are a chemical soup of ingredients:
Contributed by Thad Goodman
This site wants to Fix Construction. We could debate for years if it’s even broken. But for the sake of positive momentum, let’s say everything can use improvement.
One of the bigger issues we have currently is labor. Or should I say a lack of it. Let’s work on that.
First let’s examine how we got here. If you don’t know where you are at, you will never figure out how to get where you are going.
For decades construction has been relegated to second tier citizenship.
Think about who is delivering this message. College educated guidance counselors. Our youth and their parents are being given directions to learning institutions by people who came out of, and make their living from - you guessed it - learning institutions.
I don’t blame them for the way they think. It worked for them. There are many, many good white collar professions out there, including architects and engineers. These counselors are trained to see things a certain way, rewarded by school systems who tout their graduation rates and college admission numbers. They are good at their jobs. I do blame them for not presenting both sides of the story to parents who trust and listen to them.
The Rest of the Story
There is a second option. Construction provides a better outlet for many who are just not interested in continued schoolwork. Not everyone is cut out to sit at a desk. There are those who are good with their hands, good with abstract problem solving in real time. Pushing this type of young person to college and deep into college debt often hurts that individual and our economy. How many young people do you know buried in student loans working at the local retail mall?
Our school systems are good at rating the skillsets of our young people. Let’s give them a solid set of options for each type of student.
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.
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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