Volume 49, Issue 3 - March 2014

GANA Perspectives

Why are Blueprints Blue?
This Course Can Help You Better Serve Clients
by Jon Kimberlain

In today’s digital world, plan drawings can have a multitude of colors and layers to illustrate building construction. Given the potential choices, have you ever wondered where the term “blueprint” originates? It comes from the methods used in the mid-1800s to create replicates of technical drawings and engineering designs. The original technique required someone to create the drawing on translucent paper. The drawing was then laid over a piece of chemically prepared paper that, when exposed to bright light, would turn a deep-dark blue. Combining the two papers, and running them through a wash and dry process would leave a negative image of white on blue paper.

This background on understanding from where the term blueprint comes might serve as an impressive insight to share with family members or as an answer to a question on Jeopardy. But to impress clients who rely on your company for project bids and accurate estimates, you have to showcase a deeper understanding of what goes into reading blueprints and providing labor estimates.

A Job Well Done
The ability to read and understand plans and specifications is the mark of the complete glass installer. Without this ability, it is doubtful that he or she will progress beyond the point of an apprentice.

Installers who enjoy their work take pride in being able to point to a specific building and say “that was my job.” There is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in knowing that they had a part in helping to construct the building.

GANA’s Blueprint Reading and Labor Estimating Course is an essential correspondence curriculum designed for beginning estimators and project managers. However, it also provides an update for more experienced individuals. Using a 14-step lesson plan, the course begins with the basics and evolves into a final exam in bidding a real-life project. Students who complete the program with passing marks receive a certificate identifying them as an advanced glazing specialist signed by GANA’s president.

Learning Opportunities
Students who participate in this certificate program will gain valuable insights including an understanding of design development documents, contract documents and architectural drawings. They’ll gain the ability to understand glass types, setting methods and modern window applications. Participants will understand the importance and specifics of critical elements in a design, such as storefront and entrance materials. The course will provide them with a better understanding of glass fabrication terminology and the relationship dynamics between architects, owners, contractors and contract glaziers.

Students who complete the course will be able to perform quantity surveys, prepare material take-offs, and estimate labor costs. Upon completion of the final exam they will be thoroughly equipped to prepare comprehensive estimates and submit bids.

The Blueprint Reading and Labor Estimating Course is a manual developed by the GANA Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Division. Since its release, it has provided nearly 4,000 students the opportunity to advance their knowledge base. The course has become a go-to orientation and continuing education tool for companies around the country.

Jon Kimberlain is an application specialist with Dow Corning Corp. and chair of the Glass Association of North America’s Building Envelope Contractors division.

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