Managing Expectations: Stay Educated to Handle Changing Market Needs
By Craig Carson
Have you noticed how much more is required to bid and install glazing systems these days? I just reviewed project specifications that included punched openings, strip windows and unitized curtainwall. Specs also called for thermal modeling of each system, meeting LEED requirements, providing current tests reports (be sure to ask your metal supplier if their reports are current and less than five years old), stamped structural calculations, mockups (visual, test or both), and field testing at random openings as selected by an independent testing agency for field quality control.
And the other related sections, such as caulking and air and water (vapor) barriers, also need to be reviewed. Off point here, but why is it that the architect or spec writer never checks to see if the vapor barrier material and the caulking material are compatible? We spend a lot of time working on compatibility issues regarding these products …
Blast or ballistic considerations, historical preservation status and other requirements also have to be reviewed.
WHY ALL THE WORK?
Asking your team to stay on top of all of this, along with working with the general contractor to complete project scheduling for submittals, shop drawings, re-submittals, samples, material procurement and fabrication and field installation is a lot to manage. It may be difficult, but these do need to be completed in a timely manner.
Obviously, not all projects need this much work to manage, though on larger projects it’s not uncommon. Why, because over the years there have been: (1) too many product or installation failures, so owners want to make sure the installed product will perform to the level of performance they’ve asked the architect to provide; (2) Building code updates to reflect greater structural or thermal performance requirements of the systems; and (3) new standards and requirements outside of the building codes set by government and quasi-government agencies. All of these have acted in the buildings of today, setting new performance standards.
None of the items above address the ever-changing designs that we see from architects. They’re always looking at satisfying the wants and needs of their clients. Some clients even use their building to create strong product branding. Think of Apple and their structural-glass influenced retail locations, or their new headquarters—a fantastic project with large spans of glass.
You may ask what this has to do with you and your business? Well, these design ideas filter down into our local markets eventually. Architects and owners see these new uses of glass and aluminum and metal panels and want to emulate them, maybe on a smaller scale, maybe only on part of the building. They want to make their projects special and stand out, even if it’s not an Apple store. That means we see new expanses of glass incorporated into new systems.
This creates a need for us to keep learning and expanding our product knowledge. We also learn about new means and methods for building and installing these systems. I like that there’s a need to continue growing and learning, but it does come at a price—the price of time and patience in an environment that doesn’t allow much time for it.
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