17 January

You Get What You Pay For...

As the down economy lingers, so does the lack of construction in much of the country.  I think everybody who reads this knows how much work there was just a few years ago compared to now and how the dynamics of how we do business has been turned on its ear.  With regard to commercial construction, much like in residential construction, building owners are now expecting their buildings to last longer, do more and be more efficient – yet with these added expectations there are related costs that follow.  It’s during these times that building owners feel that by cutting costs (sometimes on vital components) they can come out ahead in the long run.  The two ugliest words in the construction lexicon right now are –value engineering (VE for short).  This is the unfortunate portion of the construction process where components on a project are whittled down to the nub to cut overall costs.  As I travel around the country, I am seeing that air barriers are being cut out of large and small projects in favor of saving a bit of money.  The rub is what really happens is it ends up costing the owner much more money in the long run. Those of you who are in the design and construction portion of our business might see this statement as purely sales motivated unless they’ve been on the receiving end of a building that has been leaking air, vapor, moisture or all of the above.  There just isn’t enough aspirin in the world that can get rid of a headache from having the windows not pass a water hose test, the sheathing joints leaking air and the fact that there is nothing sealing around details like pipes, brick ties and conduit.   When looking at specifications or scope of work on a project, ask yourself these questions:  1) What is the cost of material and labor versus the building life cycle savings and/or repair costs 2) Are the cost effective alternatives I’m proposing enough to accomplish the goals of the building performance 3) Will this CCW Barritech VP ever come off my forehead – it’s been three days? (good luck with that!)  If we are going to expect our buildings to last longer with fewer repairs needed and save money on rising utility costs, wouldn’t it make sense to employ the necessary tools in order to make that happen?  The last thing anybody wants to see is that their kid’s $20 million school has to be rebuilt or go through $5 million in repairs because a few items were left off during initial construction.  My kids however might actually enjoy seeing that.    For this time around, I’ll leave you with my favorite overused but certainly useful statement: Usually it’s the products that you can’t see on a building that do the most to protect it. 

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