Volume 51, Issue 2 - February 2016


Attention to Detail
Even Little Changes Can Impact the Total Cost

by Craig Carson

I’ve been involved recently on some detailed and expansive projects. I believe it’s because these projects are more design-build or design-assist. I know that the mega projects—the ones many of us are never involved with—are handled like this. Now, I am also seeing relatively small projects (in the $3 million range) where the general contractor (GC) is asking for detailed breakdowns.

Some GCs even ask for staffing plans that include the résumés of the personnel managing the project for the contract glazier, starting with the project manager all the way to the fabrication manager and field superintendent assigned to the job. GCs also want you to guarantee that these individuals are not replaced without their permission. This is difficult to do when the project schedule shows that your field installation may not start for 10 months or more.

Stay Involved

When preparing your bid, be sure to double-check the general contractor’s request for pricing. It may ask you to break down your bid into framing types (i.e. windows, storefront and curtainwall), as this process is usually in constant flux between the design and budget. All this means you must stay involved and work with the design team to help keep the project within budget and/or supply costing updated as it proceeds. Stay in control of this because the GC wants to use pricing you provide on bid day, so he can use the square foot price to make adjustments.

Do not let him use the square foot pricing that you gave him for adjustments to your pricing! As we all know, square foot pricing is not consistent from one opening to another. Vent windows, doors and even vertical spacing and the number of horizontals vary from one opening to another and will impact your cost.

Paying attention to even the smallest details makes a big difference.

Price Points

I recently had a project where the openings were quite tall and spanned three floors with two spandrel area conditions. The GC and architect had gotten together to look for some cost savings. They wanted to delete the spandrel areas and replace them with stucco, metal studs, insulation and gypsum board. On the surface, this looked like a cost saver because the square foot price of the curtainwall was more than the cost of the stucco assembly. But that wasn’t really the case. Instead, I had large, single-span openings in lieu of triple span. This impacted the curtainwall framing because steel had to be added to the mullions. Additionally, the openings were much wider than the height of the spandrel areas being replaced. The framing caulking was also affected because 3.5 times the amount had to be added to the openings.

The result? The price of the curtainwall increased enough that the overall price grew instead of shrinking. When I presented the cost information to the contractor and architect, they decided to revert back to the previous design. Once again the devil is in the details.

the author

Craig Carson is the regional preconstruction manager for Alliance Glazing Technologies Inc. in Littleton, Colo.

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