Risky Business: Certification Can Help Improve Jobsite Efficiencies

By Stephanie Staub

Construction has always been an industry with a high level of risk. Increasing project complexity, large project teams, and the inherent physical dangers of the work itself all contribute to this reality. The biggest problem with construction defects is the amount of litigation involved. Construction defect litigation is a long, complex and costly process. Depending on the defect, a lawsuit can include numerous defendants, varying insurance policy coverages, anti-indemnity statutes, and fact-intensive discovery procedures. Experts say robust prequalification and monitoring of subcontractors is the key to mitigating this risk.

Certification Matters

Glazing contractors are a critical component of managing risk on a project, and the North American Contractor Certification (NACC) provides a means for greater risk mitigation. Awareness and widespread adoption of the NACC program can help improve the effectiveness of the industry because it clearly communicates to the end user a contractor’s qualifications and competency. On today’s projects, it is not just about aesthetics; conformance to energy codes while maintaining design intent has become increasingly complicated. Façades will not perform correctly if not installed correctly. NACC contractors look beyond the glass installation to understand how these systems interface with adjoining material and affect performance.

By focusing on systems, procedures and processes, contractors who seek certification take proactive approaches to their projects, often adding a layer of unexpected refinement. Annual assessments conducted as part of a NACC certification can show areas of improvement for even the most successful contractors. Consistent documentation and operational procedures provides predictable performance and a beneficial tool to avoid conflict and minimize risk. Following the industry footprint of product certifications, contractor certification puts the next level of risk management in the hands of the installer.

Holistic Approach

NACC certification establishes contractor qualifications beyond traditional bid requirements. Focusing on office, shop and field operations, the program adds a key differentiator of quality. Having established and enforced quality plans can be indicators that a contractor’s work results will meet the project needs and contribute to its success. Analyzing and documenting the work process creates a level of standardization with an organization.

For example, NACC certified contractors recognize that complex construction requires both coordination and communication. In the case of rainscreens particularly, the coordination of a continuous barrier layer around the façade presents challenges with changes in planes and elevations. All glass doors and entrances have become grandeur, with complex hardware incorporating fire and security systems necessitating detailed integration of electronics.

Glazing contractors are one of the only subcontractors responsible for shop drawings with completely integrated details, showing perimeter conditions and all other façade component interphases, including membranes and seals of vapor/air barriers. On today’s jobsites, schedules continue to accelerate, creating a “make it work” atmosphere in the field, and certified contractors have procedures in place to deal with troubleshooting jobsite inconsistencies and to work out a consensus solution. Detailed documentation contributes to favorable schedule conditions allowing proper installation and inspection of the work before it’s covered up by other trades.

Stephanie Staub is the director of marketing for the Architectural Glass Institute in Philadelphia. She can be reached at stephanie@theagi.org.

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