Volume 35, Number 12, December 2000

Developing a Well-Oiled Machine

How glaziers can work with architects and
designers to keep projects running smoothly

by Craig Carson

Having worked in the contract glazing industry all of my adult life, I have found that it is ever changing. Along the way, I also realized that I need to keep an open mind to the challenges that designers and architects present.

As the bidding glazing contractors, we have limited input regarding the glazing systems chosen by architects. Ideally, the architect will request the help of one of the manufacturer's sales people and/or engineers in reviewing his product selection and application. However, if it is apparent that the architect is using a system not suited for the application, I believe it is our responsibility to inform the architect of our concerns before the bid date. This gives him the chance to review the design and specifications and make any changes by addendum. This is also necessary to make sure everyone bids the project, including the competition, on a level playing field. If the period will not allow this, or if the architect does not address this issue, we have two choices: either bid what the architect has drawn and specified, or bid a system that will work and provide documentation as to how such products will work. I prefer the latter to the former, although this will require more work on your part.


Winning the Project

Nevertheless, if handled professionally (and you should try to schedule a face-to-face meeting with the general contractor to explain your bid), it may result in the award of the project. If not, at least you took the steps to
inform your customer, and this may lead him to ask the right questions of the low bidder. This may pay dividends on future projects, as I believe the more knowledgeable a customer, the easier it is for him to recognize a correct and responsible bid.

Sometimes you may be asked to participate in a negotiated or design-build project in which you can assist the architect with product selection. I have found that on these projects designers and architects are concerned with the overall aesthetics of their project. They would like to leave the engineering to someone else in this case--the contract glazier. This is the area that will make or break the glazing contractor, because he is responsible for the glazing systems design and installation.

This also requires that the contract glazier have more than a passing knowledge of other building products, construction techniques and tolerances. At this point you become more than a subcontractor, you also become part of the design team.


Double Check Yourself

It is always a good idea to have the supplier's engineering group review details and structural requirements of any project in which stock products are used. When involved in a project that will require custom extrusion or a complete custom system, it is imperative that the construction schedule be reviewed. Remember to allow for the added engineering and fabrication time that a new or modified system requires. Do not accept an unrealistic schedule for fear of losing the project--you will only get yourself into trouble. In these busy construction times, suppliers are loaded down in their engineering departments and need more time to address custom applications. Remember to review the scheduling with suppliers. If you can, have them agree to perform the schedule requirements. Finally, be aggressive but realistic. The project you are working on is not the last project you will ever sell. Don't make it the last one on which you make money . n