Contributed by David Bishton
Breakfast? With a specifier? You may wonder about the wisdom of such an engagement, but it is a unique experience. It occurred to me today that there are some uncanny similarities between project specification preparation and the simple (or complex) task of preparing breakfast. In this case, breakfast for a crowd.
The first thing to know is that the Specifier comes to YOUR house, either in person or virtually or both, to help YOU plan and make the breakfast. So wait, I can hear you say, the SPECIFIER DOES NOT DO ALL THE WORK? In case you hadn’t noticed I use capital letters for emphasis – I learned it from this really smart 5th grade (I assume) kid I found on Twitter. Anyway, the answer is no, but the Specifier can be your most able assistant.
So how does it work? The first thing I as a Specifier want to know is more about what’s on the menu – what did you have in mind to serve this big crowd that you’ve invited over? Oh, it’s a pot luck! You have the main course and everyone is bringing something to the table. So how can I help – what’s in the fridge?
I open the refrigerator door and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A miniature sleigh – wait, that’s from another story – a really large tray of the most beautiful eggs I’ve ever seen. And every nook and cranny stuffed with marked and unmarked containers of every size and shape. You are REALLY PROUD of those eggs! So how can I help? I can chop onions, garlic, veggies, make sausage, prepare a fruit salad, get all the herbs lined up, make toast, help set the table – I’ll even go to the store if you need something. Just tell me what you need. “First, look through this 150 page recipe and find the ingredients. Then figure out what’s in all these containers. I might be missing some things.”
Contributed by Roy Schauffele
The air barrier technology used in today’s construction and mandated by the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) are firmly grounded in science. That database of knowledge continues to grow at an astounding rate. Research efforts by the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) will be presented at the ABAA Conference in 2019, and you will be astounded by how much research and testing that ABAA has been conducting to ensure better knowledge for all.
Currently, air barrier systems are being marketed with having passed only the air barrier part of the testing (ASTM E2357 - Standard Test Method for Determining Air Leakage of Air Barrier Assemblies) and pay little to no attention to the other architectural performance attributes, such as crack bridging, water resistance, adhesion to a substrate and fastener sealability, which when successfully passed, results in an ABAA Evaluated Assembly.
So, what I’m asking you to consider is an upgrade of performance requirements for a better and stronger air barrier specification. Here are my suggestions for ensuring the best possible air barrier performance for your project:
Performance requirements for a proper air barrier specification are vital. The above are four of my suggestions as how you can elevate and upgrade your specs. Should you have any questions or comments, I appreciate you commenting below. Thank you for reading.
Contributed by Jason Spangler
For years now, the in situ relative humidity (RH) test for measuring the moisture condition of concrete has been shown to be the most reliable, accurate test available.
As far back as the 1960s, laboratories at the Portland Cement Association conducted controlled tests that verified the accuracy of RH testing. This research was followed by years of additional testing at Lund University in Sweden and elsewhere. In 2002, ASTM International first established the F2170 standard for conducting RH tests on concrete slabs.
The research confirmed two key discoveries:
Other methods typically involve taking measurements only at the surface of the slab. As the research has found, a surface-based moisture test can’t provide an accurate measure of a slab’s true moisture condition. That’s because it doesn’t account for the moisture conditions deeper within the slab, and those conditions are typically quite different than conditions at the surface.
The Standard Evolves as the Science Tells Us More
The initial ASTM F2170 for in situ RH testing was established in 2002, after continuing research at Scandinavian universities in the 1990s identified the exact specifications for conducting a reliably accurate RH test—placing the test probe at 40 percent depth for slabs poured on grade or 20 percent for slabs drying from both sides. After these scientifically-validated specifications were firmly established, ASTM International published a usable standard.
Until now, the ASTM F2170 standard has required a 72-hour waiting period between drilling the test holes where the RH probes are placed and taking official RH measurements. In practice, readings are often taken before the 72 hours has passed, so contractors have an idea of how things are trending. But because the official readings couldn’t be taken before 72 hours, that meant all decisions and work were basically on hold for those three days. Full stop.
Yet we’ve seen how the research on the RH test method has helped to refine our understanding of how best to use it. This trend continues. In 2014, a Precision and Bias (P&B) study, commissioned by the ASTM committee, tested for differences in RH readings at various intervals within the 72-hour period. In part, the idea was to assess if it is actually necessary to wait the full 72 hours for an accurate, actionable moisture readings.
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
If you haven’t read my previous blogs, as a bit of history, I have worked in Architecture for most of my career (in 3 different firms), as well as in Construction and Engineering. All of these firms did some form of public work. A couple of them performed public work almost exclusively, one of which I was at for 23 years.
I guess that is a long way of saying that I have worked on, and prepared architectural specifications, standards and documents for a ton of public projects over my 30+ year AEC career. I would venture to say that I am fairly well versed in what it takes to get a public project out the door. You could also say that I have seen it all.
For those without experience in public projects, the differences in the documents between public and private work are notable and they typically take a lot more time. Why is that you ask?
Besides the typical code compliance items that need to be addressed, public work requires compliance with public contracting laws and bidding procedures. Public contracting laws vary from State to State. In addition to State rules, you may also have to deal with Federal, City, County, Environmental, local jurisdictions and then the actual specific public agency’s rules, as well. Also, many public agencies also require at least three equal products on everything in the building to promote competitive bidding, since it is a low-bid wins environment. This is not always easy to do and there really is no such thing as perfectly “equal” products. This also leaves room for dispute.
These rules are the law and must be complied with. If they are not, a Contractor may have right to file a dispute and have the bids thrown out to force a rebid. Contractors watch for these things, as it may give them another avenue to pursue if they are not the low bidder.
To add on to the complexity, many of the specific agencies have their own front end documents (Divisions 00 and 01), which may not be coordinated with your technical specifications. Some agencies have their own technical specifications, as well. These are documents that you are expected to work with, you have never seen before and you have no background on the decision making process of the content or the qualifications of the agency staff who wrote the content. You have no idea if it is even current. And often, it isn’t.
Contributed by Janis Kent, FAIA, CASp
Lavatories have some of the more involved clearances, below which impact reach ranges above. The question of why is this important to understand might be arising in your thoughts. The answer is the impact on the location of faucet controls, soap dispensers, and any other built-in items including electrical outlets and switches.
The knee clearance under a lavatory is 27” minimum height above the finished floor (AFF) extending horizontally from the front edge to a depth of 8”. If you are working in California, the height clearance tapers from the front edge at 29” AFF, down to 27” AFF at 8” back. The next portion of the knee clearance is tapered from 27” minimum AFF down to 9” minimum AFF at 11” back. The toe clearance requires an additional 6” horizontally beyond the bottom of this taper. This is nothing new, but what we often lose sight of, is this taper is at a rate of 1” depth for every 6” of height – a total of a 3” depth beyond the full 27” clear height. You can increase the depth at the lower portion of the taper more than 3” but the toe clearance is still calculated as starting 3” back from the top of the taper. Another way of looking at this is the furthest point of the toe depth is an additional 9” back maximum from the start of the taper at 27” AFF.
For a lavatory with front approach, you need to remember that you cannot reach beyond your toes. So, if you have the minimum of 8” at the top + 3” of taper (the typical 11” minimum depth requirement) + 6” for your toes, this totals 17”. If this is the furthest your toes can go, the faucets and soap dispenser (if fixed) have to have their controls located within reach range. So, 17” maximum from the front edge of the lavatory counter or fixture.
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