June 14, 2022

Communications Between all the Stake Holders is the Key to Success

By Paul Daniels

Next week I am going to be part of a panel at the AIA Conference in Chicago and two of the topics chosen to be discussed are:

1. Communications between the architect, general contractor, and subcontractors.
2. How can we keep new and innovative, but often expensive, products from being VE’d out of the project?

In preparing for the event the panel has been meeting online to prepare. The panel includes glazing contractors, glass and hardware manufactures, and an architect.

Having something value engineered out of a project is a hot item for me right now, as I have a large project that is facing this issue. After working with the glazing contractor and architect for over six months, the general contractor has now asked the glazing contractor for a new quote taking out the insulating glass doors and replacing them with just half inch glass doors. This may save some money up front but will add to the operational costs of the building over the next fifty years.

Of course, the main theme of the AIA conference this year is reducing operational and embodied carbon. The architect on the panel sees some of the same issues we are discussing standing in the way. If architects continue to design around lowering carbon but general contractors continue to value engineer them out of the project, then we are all wasting a lot of time and effort.

Value engineering needs to be looked at from all sides. There are a lot of opportunities for us all by educating architects and general contractors on products that can not only save them money now, but also help with saving even more money and energy for decades to come. I do not see energy costs coming down, or government regulations including carbon taxes going away in the future. When next generation products are VE’d out it discourages companies from investing in these products. I think it is up to all of us to educate the companies that we are working with on both sides. When a product comes up for review you should also contact the manufacture who can help with information and facts on the value of a product over the life of the building. Like they said in the commercial years ago “you can pay me now or pay me later.” Architects need to also work with manufactures to help them state their case on why the product was selected in the first place. Part of their due diligence should be to educate their client on over all costs over time, not just bringing the building in under budget.

In today’s market we are all under pressure to keep to budgets that are being affected by inflation. Decisions made today can end up costing a building owner, tenants, and all of us a lot more money over time.

If you have any points you would like to bring up to a group of architects, let me know and I will see if I can bring them up next week.