The focus of this blog is construction-related topics. The purpose is discussion, so please feel free to comment! See Specific thoughts for thoughts from the daily life of a specifier.

24 July 2011

Whose responsibility?

Design professionals rely on manufacturers and suppliers for the information necessary to design a project, and to create specifications and details for incorporation of those products. Advertisements, specifications, and performance data distributed by manufacturers are a primary source of information used by design professionals to determine if a product will meet the requirements of a project. This information is supplemented by discussion with the manufacturer's representatives, distributors, suppliers, and installers, but the written documents must be accurate, factual, and reliable illustrations of how products and assemblies should be used.

It is not unreasonable, then, to expect that a product advertised for a particular use is indeed suitable for that use. Consider a company that produces wood doors. The company's literature calls them wood doors, it specifies them by standards used for wood doors, and it shows pictures of them being used as wood doors. An architect should be comfortable choosing this product for use as a wood door; a specifier should be confident that it can be specified as such; and the owner should have no doubt that it is, indeed, a wood door, with all that implies. But I'm not talking about wood doors.

10 May 2011

Etched in stone

What is the value of a signature? More to the point, what is the value of a "wet" signature? Although some states have taken steps to modernize the requirements for certification of construction documents and other legal documents, others are mired in practices that haven't made sense for a long time.

Of those states that allow something other than a manual signature to certify documents, some allow only software encryption, while others allow a facsimile of a signature. The result is a mix of methods, requiring design professionals to verify requirements for each state. To make things more interesting, states and local agencies are inconsistent in the way they interpret or use state statutes.

What really makes sense? Is a wet signature necessary? What does it prove?

19 April 2011

Let bylaws be bygones

Oh, if only! CSI's members approved amendments to the Institute bylaws twice in the last few years, and each time, those amendments required changes to region and chapter bylaws. Are we done now?

The answer will depend on how we want CSI to change. The Institute board may recommend that the bylaws be amended, as happened in 2006 when the board proposed changes intended to improve our governance process. Members also may propose changes; this year's amendment was the result of member requests to have a single type of full membership.

Let's take a look at bylaws, and see if we can dispel the mystique that surrounds them. I doubt we'll get to the point that you love them, but at least you should be able to say bylaws without a shudder.

21 February 2011

A tale of two companies

Smoke and mirrors?

A few months ago, in "Go-to guys", I spoke of the many excellent product representatives I know, and how valuable they are to me in my job as specifier. This past month, I experienced something just a bit different. It wasn't that the product reps weren't helpful, but their corporate structure made it difficult for them to offer the help that specifiers need, which, in turn, makes it difficult for specifiers to properly serve their clients.

It all started with an e-mail from one of our construction administrators, about a substitution request. The subcontractor claimed that a substantial savings would result from using the proposed products, and went on to say that one of the proposed substitute products was, in fact, identical to one that had been specified.

10 February 2011

Signature blocks on steroids

The first time I get an e-mail from you I don't mind if you include your full name, title, phone number, cell phone number, and fax number, along with your company name, division, department, main phone number, address, and website, and even a logo or two. In fact, I like to get all that information at one time; it's a great way to complete my contact file for you without having to ask for missing pieces. I don’t need to see a message telling me that I should save paper by not printing the message (does anyone really do that?), but I'll let it go the first time you send me e-mail.

After that, all I need is your name and phone number. Your e-mail address is in the message; if needed, I can use it to bring up your contact file.

25 January 2011

Convince me

We've all heard countless times about the amazing technological changes of the twentieth century, going from horse-drawn buggies to a car in every garage and landing on the moon, from telegraph to cell phones, from dirt roads to superhighways, from fresh food to frozen, and so on. Many of those changes resulted in improvements in business or in our standard of living, and are so much an accepted part of our lives that we take them for granted.

Today we are witnesses to the birth and tremendous growth of social networking, and sensational claims about its future. What is that future?