Friday, 8 April 2016

Education Report - Specifier: March 2016

As a representative of CSC (in continuing our relationship with BCIT), I once again attended the Industry Student Career Mixer for the Architectural and Building Technology Students at BCIT last Wednesday evening, February 3rd, promoting the benefits of being a member of our Vancouver Chapter and the possible enrollment in the courses offered in continuing education for both writing and reading specifications associated with the Construction Industry. At that time, I also confirmed with BCIT’s main ABT instructor, Antonio Sanjuan, that, once again, I will be representing CSC while lecturing to his class on the Importance of Specifications for his 2nd Year course curriculum this Spring.

Respectfully submitted,
Glenn Chatten

Download the entire issue for this article and more.
For more issues, visit our website or visit our archive for past issues.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Membership Report - Specifier: March 2016

As we continue to promote CSC, the need for value in the construction industry is greater than ever. During the month of January, the Vancouver Chapter has increased by five new members which bring membership to 165.

Please help us to WELCOME four new members and one rejoining member:

Mr. Jordan Gervais 
Architectural & Technical Representative
IKO Industries

Marie de Montigny-Simoneau A.T., LEED AP ID+C, C.Tech.
Senior Architectural Technologist

Mr. Glen Stokes
Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects Inc.

Mr. Gerhard Unger 
Contract Administrator

For More Information on Membership:

Please contact Mario Maggio
Tel: 778-986-6058

Download the entire issue for this article and more.
For more issues, visit our website or visit our archive for past issues.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Specs Overrule Drawings... REALLY - Specifier: March 2016

By Keith Robinson, FCSC, RSW, CCS, LEED AP

As specifiers, we are called into many uncomfortable meetings with a request to clarify exactly what was intended by the written words that we create as a part of the Project Manual... and are often left with the uncomfortable feeling that the only reason we are at these meetings is to be “the person” to blame where a satisfactory conclusion has not otherwise come to fruition. This is not an unusual feeling for anyone that has been assembling or administering construction specifications for any amount of time, but this particular interpretation is used way too often and without sufficient thought about how this hierarchy exists. Hence the ~ (tilde) and ¿ (upside down question mark) in the title indicating the sarcastic bent of the word really in the title line and in other instances in this article.

There is no doubt about the “Order or Priority of Documents” arising in the event of conflict within the Contract Documents, which is defined in our standard CCDC forms of contract. The issue with this statement is the difference of our “general understanding of conflict” versus the “legal interpretation of conflict”.

Since I am not a lawyer; the discussion presented is merely an opinion. The word “conflict” as used in the contractual instance is the legal interpretation where there is a breach of contract. Essentially someone is about to be sued, and the conflict refers to the process of resolving the dispute. The word “conflict” as used by the general (non-lawyer-ish) understanding is any disconnect between the specifications and the drawings, a disagreement between facts and an individual’s interpretation of the documents, or any perceived disagreement (or argument) during the administration of the project that doesn’t actually form a breach of contract (but has the potential if not resolved amicably).

It is important to accept that there needs to be a line in the sand; a point of decision making, to enable fair and equal interpretation of the documents. The specification is being used as the tool for this demarcation based on the accepted order of priority. The question and sarcastic inference at the start of this column comes about when the specification is inconsistent with the graphic representation (drawings) and where we need to move the discussion to a more controversial line of discussion. What happens when the drawings are correct and we do not want the spec to rule? What about the unintentional disconnects that occur when the drawing notes are too specific – should the drawing notes be considered a specification? If drawing notes are specifications – then what happens to the book (specifications)?

Our standard CCDC forms of contract offer us backup to support of the graphic representation and accompanying notes by stating “Contract Documents are complementary, what is required by one is required by all”. We humbly march forward feeling self confident that we are justified in switching the ruling documentation (in the eyes of the constructor) from the specification to the drawing, and now we are steering towards a conflict in the true legal sense... a potential for breach of contract.

In arriving at a more reasoned approach to interpreting the contract documents, we need to understand what a specification is and what a drawing is. Strange as those notions are given that we are an association of specification writers. It is the start of a historical tour of events leading to the interpretation of the working-drawings and specifications that we have today.

Some of the earliest interpretations of the word “drawings” are referenced in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s (1) as “the workingdrawings contain the graphical information placed on sheets of vellum or other reproduction” with the intent that everything else on the drawing sheet are considered words. Those words had specific context leading to our predecessors (2) and to our current interpretation of the order of priority of documents. The current interpretation was derived from the following concerns (quoted in the language of the time) in the late 1800’s:

  • Of the exactness requisite in the practical profession of architecture, and how far it is influenced by the correctness of specifications and working-drawings
  • Of the disputes and expenses which arise from badly drawn specifications
  • Of the trouble and vexation which an architect occasions to himself by a badly drawn specification; and on the propriety of general clauses in specifications
  • Of marginal references in specifications and contracts, their convenience, and their tendency to insure the correct performance of the work; and of the care with which specifications should be copied into contracts
  • Of the advantages which would result, if copies of the working-drawings and specifications for all works, were deposited somewhere for the public and private reference
  • Of the evil and depressing influence which bad building has upon architecture
  • Of the influence which contracting for the erection of buildings has upon architecture 
  • Of the present state of architectural mechanical knowledge 
  • Of the question, “Have we improved in our Practical Building through specifications?”

Seems we are challenged with similar concerns in today’s construction environment and causes one to ponder from this historical information, “Why haven’t we seen progress in our documentation in the last 125 to 150 years to address these concerns?” Fortunately, both of these publications laid out the principles of interpretation that are used by CCDC, and which we are familiar with in today’s common usage of the order of precedence of the documents:

  • Words add clarity and content to graphical representations and working-drawings.
  • Words are understood in their general and popular usage. 
  • Words commonly accepted by trade usage are understood as standard or technical terms and have precedence over general or popular usage.
  • Specific and defined terms take precedence over standard or technical terms. 
  • Typed words take precedence over printed words (think of old style drawing methods where words were hand printed). 
  • Handwritten words take precedence over typed or printed words (handwriting is considered as reflecting the immediate thoughts selected by the parties themselves to express their joint understanding of the meaning of words).

The disconnect in today’s interpretation is that the word “drawing” is taken to be the “sheet of paper” that we bind together as a set of working-drawings rather than the graphical content on those sheets as was the original interpretation. When words are added to the graphical content, they become an integral component of the specification information that adds clarity to the drawings. Words printed on the drawing must match the words written into the specification...this disconnect arises by our failure to recognize that drawing notes are specifications.

This becomes a bigger issue given our need to add more detail to the drawing notes than is necessary to convey clarity or content, especially considering the weight provided to the specification under contract. The more detailed the drawing notes are, the greater the likelihood of creating discrepancies and potential for disputes as a result of those discrepancies.

So what is the solution to this dilemma? Communication, another word that everyone thinks they perform effectively, but which so often fails in the process of delivering the message. The ultimate irony is that we are failing to communicate because of our need to provide overly descriptive notes on our working drawings and failing to forward a message, speak with or otherwise send smoke signals to the person responsible for the written words that actually take precedence, and ultimately provides the communication to the person that delivers the finished project.

Do we assume that the specification isn’t as good as the contract gives it credit? Do we overcompensate by adding descriptive text and sequential context to drawing notes that ignores the flow of communication that is supposed to occur between the drawings and the specification? This becomes a self fulfilling conclusion... the specification is no good, because no one thought to communicate the project requirements into the written document... so the contractual significance of the specification is lost to the big recycle bin in the back rooms, basements and back alleys of so many buildings.

Sounds like an action plan for BIM concepts and software – a solution finally sounds like a discussion for a different column.

(1)  Handbook of Specifications, Practical Guide to the Architect, Engineer, Surveyor and Builder in drawing up Specifications and Contracts for Works and Constructions; T. L. Donaldson Ph.D., published by Atchley and Co., published in 1860. Also viewable online, University of Michigan HathiTrust Digital Library

(2)  Specifications for Practical Architecture; Frederick Rogers, Architect, published by Crosby Lockwood and Co., published in 1886. Also viewable online, Internet Archive 

Download the entire issue for this article and more.
For more issues, visit our website or visit our archive for past issues.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Luncheon - Fireproofing 101: Back to the Basics

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Presented by Ron van Frankfoort Director of Sales Commercial Fireproofing - Northeast US & Canada Carboline Company / AD Fire Protection

This session will discuss the basics of fireproofing in the design and construction of building projects today. It will address questions on why and when it is required, what the testing requirements and certification processes are, and provide a review of ULC /ITS classifications. A brief explanation of the different types of cementitious and intumescent types of fireproofing materials that are available in the market will be carried out as well as a discussion on where each type of product should be specified and used (ie. advantages / disadvantages). This presentation will also include a review of the different types of finish levels for intumescent fireproofing and photos of different types of applications.

Learning objectives will include the following:
  • Why Fireproofing is required
  • What are the testing requirements and certification process for fireproofing materials and the ULC / ITS classifications
  • What are the different types of cementitious and intumescent types of fireproofing materials that are available in the market.
  • Where each type of product should be specified and used (advantages / disadvantages)
Ron van Frankfoort has been involved in the fire protection industry for approximately 28 years. For the first 12 years of his career he was a consultant with Leber-Rubes Inc., a Fire Protection Consulting Engineering company based in Toronto. He’s since been employed by AD Fire Protection Systems, a manufacturer of fireproofing and firestopping materials for the past 16 years and the Director of Sales for Canada and the US in the past 5 years.

Sandman Hotel, 180 West Georgia Street, Vancouver 
Enter Moxie’s Classic Grill escalator entrance. The ballroom is located straight through the restaurant at the back of Moxie’s.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Luncheon (full course self-serve buffet style)
12:15 pm - 12:30 pm - Chapter Business
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm - Guest Speaker Presentation

$38.00 plus GST for pre-registered CSC members / Association Executive Directors
$48.00 plus GST for non-members

Sandman Hotel Parking: Enter off Cambie Street, pass the Sandman Hotel Breezeway, underground parking to the left, press buzzer to access parkade and take elevator to restaurant level. Cost is $1.25 per 15 minutes.
Easy Park: Across the street on the corner of Georgia and Cambie Streets. Cost is $1.50 per 30 minutes.

Exit at Stadium-Chinatown Station. Walk 2 minutes.

Online at Karelo by VISA, MasterCard, or Interac Online.

The registration form is available at Payment can be made at the door by cash, cheque, or VISA only.

Pre-registration ends at 2:00 pm on the Wednesday before the meeting.

Missed the deadline? Did not pre-register? You may still attend at $50.40 per person, space permitting, BUT please call 604-868-8406 beforehand.  If you pre-register and do not attend, we may invoice you for the cost of the meeting. If you have special dietary (meal) requirements, please notify us at least 24 hours before the event.

CSC Vancouver is a Registered AIBC Provider.
AIBC Members will receive 1 core LU (Learning Unit) for attending this event.

RCI has approved this meeting for 1 RCI Continuing Education Hour (CEH).
Members to request attendance certificate.

Words from the Chair - Specifier: March 2016

In February David Valk of Jenkins Marzban Logan spoke about “The Consequences of Failing to Uphold Worker Safety Regulations”. This is always an interesting topic that directly or indirectly affects many people within the industry on every project. It’s always interesting to hear the take on past cases that were the result of safety to ensure that we learn from past mistakes to ensure safer times ahead. We all have families we like to get home to see at the end of the day, so let’s speak out when we see unsafe acts on sites. In addition CSC National is hosted a Winter Workshop in Vancouver for Construction Contract Administration (CCA) March 7-11, 2016. This gave people the option of completing the course in 5 days. This course was held at the Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond. If you or someone you know is interested in any of these courses or the variety of online courses offered, please let us know.

We’re a little over 2 months away from Conference in Halifax. Hopefully everyone has a chance to see this event. Having gone for a number of years now, I can say it’s fun. The Vancouver Chapter will host the Hospitality Suite on Thursday May 26th. We’d really like to have a great presence to prepare for Conference in Kelowna in 2017. Hope to see you there!

James Kelly CTR
Chapter Chair CSC – Vancouver Chapter

Download the entire issue for this article and more.
For more issues, visit our website or visit our archive for past issues.