Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
I have one goal with this blog. One crazy idea that if I can get some people to read this, they will change the way they work.
That goal? READ the DIVISION 01 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS in the specifications of your project.
I know what some of my friendly compatriots are going to say when they see that sentence. They are going to say “Cherise, that’s a no brainer!” I mean, really, am I writing a blog about something so simple? Damned right I am.
A few years ago, I wrapped up almost six years of working for an MEP engineering firm. This was a very unique opportunity to work on yet another side of the fence in AEC: to see how the other half lives. It was an opportunity to see why some of the breakdowns I saw were happening between the Architect and the Consultants.
It was both an eye opening experience and a wake-up call. Many of the things that I had complained about during my previous 23 years at an architectural firm, when it came to communicating and coordinating with consultants, were actually my fault. I got to look in the mirror and admit that I had been wrong. It was my job to coordinate the appropriate information with consultants, but because I didn’t understand how they worked and what knowledge they had, I did not do that coordination thoroughly or effectively.
Once I realized that there was a much more limited exposure to the entirety of the documents for consultants, no education in contract documents and almost no appropriate sharing of knowledge from the Architect to the consultants, I knew I had to change something.
That was when I created my first “Specs 101” class. The very first one was geared toward consultants and engineers. A 50,000 foot view to understanding all the pieces and parts of the Specifications that were not being shared with them, the common places that need coordination and just general education on where the information belongs and who is responsible for that information. It also covered how that information will sometimes clash. Can you say, “Access Panels”?!?!
The class was very well received and I took it even further in developing an Architect/Consultant Coordination checklist for the most common things that created conflict, missing information or repeated information.
Contributed by Sheldon Wolfe
I’m sure you’ve heard the Army way of presenting information: Tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them.
While that may be a practical way of doing some things, it has no place in construction documents. For those, we have a different rule: Say it once in the right place. I think it’s safe to say that specifiers believe this rule, though convincing those who create the drawings is difficult; the result often is that the specifications may state things but once, while it’s common for drawings to repeat things many times, and it’s also common for drawing notes to repeat what is stated in the specifications.
So what’s the big deal? Why not repeat things? I believe the intent is good, and that everyone working on drawings or specifications simply wants to make sure the contractor knows what is needed. That’s the theory, but what really happens?
Let’s start with specifications; it’s quite common for a specification section to say the same thing twice. Here’s an example I have used when teaching specification writing classes. It’s from a specification I found online, but the same problems are found in manufacturers’ specifications and in commercial guide specifications.
A. Flat roof board insulation: Extruded polystyrene board to ASTM C578, Type IV, rigid, closed cell type.
That looks pretty good, right? Not really. Here’s the problem: Much of the information in the numbered paragraphs is already required by ASTM C578, and is, therefore, redundant.
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 Elias Saltz
I’ve been receiving a lot of positive feedback on the Misconception Series and I’m happy to continue writing it. I want to especially thank Eric and Cherise for encouraging me to add more posts on more topics. I hope that among all the other great things the LFC project is doing to fix construction, my little corner dedicated to dispelling misconceptions is helpful. I’m especially grateful to the manufacturer’s technical reps who agree to participate and relate the common misconceptions and help fill in the correct information.
For those of you new to the misconception series, I encourage you to read the introductions to my two previous entries so you will know what it’s all about. (Editor's Note: Read post one on Gypsum Board here and Aluminum Framed Storefronts here)
The reps I chose to approach for this post, Kim Shaw, along with her Technical Service Manager John Dalton of GCP Applied Technologies and Scott Baiker from Isolatek, 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 fireproofing 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.
07 81 00 - Spray-Applied Fireproofing
Introduction to Fireproofing
Fireproofing, as covered by this specification section, typically refers to an application of a spray-applied fire-resistive material (SFRM) to steel structural framing or decking, which then greatly prolongs the time that the structure survives during a fire. Unprotected steel is extremely vulnerable to heat. “Critical failure of steel occurs when the steel reaches 537°C (1,000°F). At this point, unprotected steel is reduced to 60% of its original strength, is prone to bend and deflect and the structural load stability and physical characteristics of steel is compromised (1).” However, it doesn’t need to be nearly that hot to cause catastrophic failure; it will begin to lose strength beginning when it reaches about 300°C (572°F). Fireproofing works by insulating the steel, thereby delaying how quickly it heats up and increasing the duration that the structure will survive, allow occupants to escape, and gives emergency responders confidence that they have time to safely enter the building and fight the fire.
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.
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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