Author Archives: CS Editor

CLFMI guidelines released

The Chain Link Fence Manufacturers Institute (CLFMI) has released updated editions of two of the organization’s most used technical guidelines, CLFMI Product Manual and Wind Load Guide for the Selection of Line Post Spacing and Size. Used by architects, specifiers, and contractors around the world, these resources help ensure the correct chain link fencing systems are being specified and installed for various applications. Information regarding commercial, industrial, residential, and high-security projects is included. Applicable ASTM standards are examined, as well as tables to determine appropriate line-post spacing in various wind-load conditions. To download these guides, as well as others, visit www.chainlinkinfo.org.

Properly managing project documentation

Con_JacobsNormanJrHORIZONS
By Norman F. Jacobs Jr., CSI, CPE
In this conclusion of a two-part look at project management, the author examines the importance of documents (the best way to avoid construction problems), along with a look at forensic documentation analysis (FDA).

Prudent project documentation provides a history of events, actions, and inactions during the execution of the contract work. Timely and adequate project documentation reflects the parties’ intention and performance during the contract period. The documentation provides the ‘plan’ for accomplishing the work, a history of contract modifications and interpretations, and changes to the planned critical path method (CPM) schedule resulting in change orders and time extensions.

The benefits derived from having proper documentation include facilitation of effective management practices and providing a base for avoiding and resolving disputes. It is important to ensure the documents are not ambiguous.

The project manager must manage all documents, including:

  • contracts;
  • insurance policies;
  • submittal logs;
  • daily reports;
  • correspondences;
  • e-mails and faxes;
  • CPM schedule information (including all monthly updates);
  • photos;
  • meeting minutes;
  • change orders;
  • payrolls;
  • requests for information (RFIs);
  • architect’s site visits;
  • reports;
  • as-built drawings;
  • equipment logs;
  • bid estimates;
  • testing reports; and
  • time extension requests and approvals.

Documents included in the owner’s bid package (e.g. drawings, specifications, soil data, asbestos data, general conditions, special conditions, specific instructions, and the contractor’s calculations and bid preparation documents) are generally admissible evidence as to what was intended by a construction contract.

FDA
Forensic documentation analysis (FDA) is a critique of the project manager’s responsibilities throughout the life of the project. It defines adequate documentation and will exercise one’s cognitive skills.

Documentation is required at every project level. In a typical claim scenario, an issue arises on a project and a couple of meetings take place and positions are laid out. Resolution does not occur and tempers may flare. So what happens next? Usually, a letter-writing campaign ensues.

The architect, engineer, and contractor start carefully crafting correspondence, every word painstakingly reviewed. Sometimes, the letters are even received by counsel, which is a good idea, especially when the stakes are high and relations strained. Well-crafted letters are a vital part of the project record, especially during litigation. However, one should consider for a moment the project participants who wrote them and for what purpose—and then ask, will claims notice and response letters be taken as sole-source gospel or as an accurate portrayal of the events of the project? Or will they be viewed as each site posturing in anticipation of litigation?

The requisite players associated with the owners, architects, and contractors are required to develop the project risk management plan (RMP), which serves to identify, analyze, manage, and control all risk that could have adverse impacts to the budget and schedule throughout all phases of the project’s lifecycle. It also provides a useful road map that can be used by the project manager and the team to assist them in successfully completing the project.

The astute project manager shall list the objectives of the project’s risk management process. For example, some objectives could be:

  • maximize the probability of achieving successfully the projects objectives within the planned schedule;
  • identify and access project risk threatening the project’s progression, as well as the adverse impact that these could bring up throughout the project lifecycle; and
  • generate risk mitigation plans as the basis for determining the budget needed to cover such plans, as well as the allocations of these resources throughout the project lifecycle.

Risk management methodology
The contract administrator or the project manager must define the methodology to be used to identify and manage such risks threatening the goals of the project; one such strategy is the Monte Carlo risk simulation, which could be an optional tool to be implemented in the development of the RMP.

One should develop a risk management schedule with milestones, taking the CPM as a reference. It should include such references as reviews, meetings, assessment milestones, and other significant events. (As mentioned in part one, it is important to consider circadian rhythms as they relate to human resources.)

One should be aware risk management is the administration of events or activities that may or may not occur, and planning for their possible range of impacts to the project. Due to this probabilistic, futuristic, and speculative nature, many project managers and teams feel uncomfortable with the whole topic and avoid it altogether.

For years, sedulous project managers have been taught to identify, quantify, and develop strategies for dealing with risk, yet risk management continues to be one of the weakest areas of construction project management.

The project manager’s risk plan must be integrated with the project game plan. This means the risk budget has to be incorporated into the project CPM schedule, cost budget, and staff plan. Too many project managers have a separate file, tool, and process for managing risk apart from the rest of the project. As a result, the risk plans are often forgotten, rendered ineffective, used only for historical purposes, or to prove compliance with corporate policy. Additionally, it is too easy for management to cut a risk budget when it is completely isolated from the project game plan or lumped into one line item on the project budget.

Using a simple and practical approach, project managers can build realistic risk plans and budgets, integrate them into the project CPM schedule, and reduce the probability it will be slashed by management. One must critique the work breakdown structure (WBS), and then identify ways to deal with risk.

Taking early action to reduce the probability and/or impact of a risk occurring on the project is often more effective than trying to repair the damage after one has happened. Adopting less complex processes, conducting more tests, or choosing a more stable management program are examples of mitigation actions. This strategy may also require prototype development to reduce risks.

Submittals
In the company manual, the project manager should define who is responsible for the management and maintenance of the submittal log. Submittals in construction are shop drawings, material data, samples, and product data. The submittal process affects cost, quality, schedule, and project success. An approved submittal authorizes quantity and quality of a material or an assembly to be released for fabrication and shipment. It is important to include submit, approve, fabrication, and delivery activities on the CPM schedule.

Conclusion
The contract administrator and project manager have many other items to manage, ranging from minutes of weekly and monthly meetings and insurance to testing, disruptions, and project closeout. It is important he or she manage all risk and construction problems, even those related to the adversarial position between the architect and a contractor.

Norman F. Jacobs Jr., CSI, CPE, is a principal at Jacobs Consultant Services, which offers cost management, schedule control assistance, project management, and claims preparation/negotiation. He has also served as an arbitrator, owner’s representative, and expert witness in arbitration and court involving multi-million dollar projects. Before creating his current organization, Jacobs provided design-build, construction management, and general contracting for developers, government agencies, and private clients for more than 30 years. He has served as the president of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Richmond Chapter, chaired the Virginia Associated General Contractors (AGC) Documents Committee, and been a long-time member of organizations including the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE). He can be contacted via e-mail at jcscpm@aol.com.

Electricity provider focuses on sustainability for new headquarters

FirstEnergy West Virginia’s operations headquarters is one of three regional transmission control centers managing the company’s 32,186-km (20,000-mi) network of high-voltage transmission lines. Photos courtesy Centria

FirstEnergy West Virginia’s operations headquarters is one of three regional transmission control centers managing the company’s 32,186-km (20,000-mi) network of high-voltage transmission lines. Photos courtesy Centria

by Greg Lusty

Built with efficiency in mind, an electricity provider’s new West Virginia data center is environmentally conscious, both inside and out.

The FirstEnergy WV’s operations headquarters in Fairmont is one of three regional transmission control centers that manage the company’s 32,186-km (20,000-mi) network of high-voltage transmission lines.

The $50-million, 13,749-m2 (148,000-sf) facility is perfectly situated for maximum visibility from the interstate, said building design firm Omni Associates Architects’ Richard T. Forren AIA, NCARB, principal/senior project architect. It houses the Mon Power regional utility headquarters.

Built with energy-efficiency goals, the structure is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified and earned the American Institute of Architects (AIA) West Virginia 2012 Merit Award. The building’s design features include:
● low-flow plumbing fixtures and sensors that reduce water usage by 45 percent compared to a typical building;
● energy-efficient lighting controlled by programmed control panels and occupancy sensors;
● white-reflective roof that minimizes heat absorption and results in less energy consumption;
● low-emitting (low-e) materials to improve indoor air quality (IAQ); and
● materials composed of more than 20 percent recycled content.

Specifying metal
Metal products were specified not only for their modern aesthetic, but also for their high level of environmental sustainability since FirstEnergy wanted a low ecological footprint. Additionally, the project was on a tight schedule. The metal cladding products, known for their efficient installation, were ideal to help keep the project on time.

An insulated metal panel (IMP) system was selected because of its combination of performance, aesthetics, and sustainability.

An insulated metal panel (IMP) system was selected because of its combination of performance, aesthetics, and sustainability.

“One of the things we look carefully at is finish, especially in a project targeting LEED Gold certification,” said Forren. “We had to head off any issues with air or moisture infiltration at the envelope.”

An insulated metal panel (IMP) system was selected because of its combination of performance, aesthetics, and sustainability. Compared to traditional multi-component wall construction, the IMPs were manufactured as a single panel. The single-component construction results in less jobsite waste, which helps make it a more environmentally responsible option and helps keep the project on budget and on time.

The lightweight, insulated metal composite panels feature concealed fasteners and are designed with double tongue-and-groove joinery. The factory foam-insulated system includes a thermal break between panel face and liner for outstanding thermal performance. The panels also provide weather resistance and can be installed quickly and easily.

The high-performance IMPs also help minimize HVAC costs, and the single-component construction eliminates the need for air barriers, gypsum sheathing, vapor barriers, and other parts of a traditional wall system.

Exposed fastener panels provide flexibility and a wide range of aesthetic possibilities. Additionally, the panels were specified because they come in various gages, colors, and finishes to match the corresponding panels and blend into walls, eliminating visual breaks.

GregLusty_2014Greg Lusty is the director of product management for Centria and is responsible for product marketing as well as new product development. He works closely with the company’s design and sales/marketing teams to focus on the promotion of current products as well as initiate efforts to develop new and improved products. Prior to this role, Lusty was the company’s foam product manager and gained more than a decade of sales and product management experience at Traco Window Company and Hussey Copper. He can be contacted by e-mail at glusty@centria.com.

What the 2015 International Building Code Means for Wood Construction: Part II

by Buddy Showalter, PE

Photo © BigStockPhoto

To help translate what the latest changes to building codes mean for opportunities in wood construction, the American Wood Council (AWC) recently introduced four new standards which are adopted by reference in compliance with the 2015 International Building Code (IBC).

Last month, this author covered the 2015 National Design Specification (NDS) for wood construction—providing an overview of the dual-format allowable stress design (ASD) and load and resistance factor design (LRFD) standard used to design wood structures worldwide. The implementation of cross-laminated timber (CLT), new terminology for laminated strand lumber (LSL) and oriented strand lumber (OSL), and clarified withdrawal design values for lag screws were also discussed.

In this installment, the 2015 Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS) standard for wood-frame construction will be explored, with provisions covering materials, design, and construction of wood members, fasteners, and assemblies to resist high wind and seismic forces.

Years of research, real-life events, and building code development have proven wood-frame structures can meet or exceed the most demanding design requirements for high wind and seismic forces. Wood buildings tend to have numerous nail connections—especially in the shear walls and diaphragms—that have inherent ductility. This allows them to dissipate energy when faced with the sudden loads of an earthquake or high wind event.

These facts continue to be recognized in the design community, and the following changes reflected in the SDPWS provide a brief overview of the more significant enhancements:
● clarification of open-front structures and cantilevered diaphragm provisions;
● updated diaphragm flexibility terminology consistent with American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 7-10, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures;
● clarification of high-aspect-ratio perforated shear wall strengths;
● new section on wind uplift force resisting systems;
● new section outlining seismic anchorage of concrete/masonry walls to wood diaphragms;
● inclusion of minimum depth for framing/blocking in high-load diaphragms;
● clarification of 2x for 3x (nominal) framing substitution; and
● increased anchor bolt spacing for wood structural panel shear walls designed to resist wind uplift.

The 2015 SDPWS standard for wood-frame construction features provisions covering materials, design and construction of wood members, fasteners, and assemblies to resist high wind and seismic forces.

The 2015 Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS) standard for wood-frame construction features provisions covering materials, design and construction of wood members, fasteners, and assemblies to resist high wind and seismic forces. Images courtesy AWC

Arguably the primary change reflected in the 2015 SDPWS is the clarification of open-front structures and cantilevered diaphragms. Their provisions were consolidated into Section 4.2.5.2 to better explain applicability of requirements and remove ambiguity. Diaphragms in open-front structures are considered to be “cantilevered” because they are unsupported laterally at one edge.

The proposed revisions remove ambiguity from prior editions of SDPWS primarily by consolidation, separate sets of provisions previously applicable to structure types described as either “open front” or “cantilevered diaphragm.” Maximum allowable story drift at building edges is considered to be the appropriate minimum requirement, and larger aspect ratio limits based on materials and construction is also suitable unless the open-front structure is torsionally irregular. In such cases, smaller story-based aspect ratio limits are applicable. Additionally, a limit on diaphragm length of 10.6 m (35 ft) is recommended in lieu of having no limit on diaphragm length or the ambiguity of providing a length limit that could be exceeded where it is shown deflections can be tolerated.

It is important to note a story drift check at building edges is required to be met for all open-front buildings regardless of torsional irregularity. While torsionally irregular provisions are applied to open-front buildings, it is not the intent of new provisions to broadly classify all open-front structures as torsionally irregular and invoke various ASCE 7-10 requirements. An exception is added in the standard exempting open-front buildings with small cantilevers of 1.8 m (6 ft) or less from the standard requirements. It is viewed as a practical approach to prevent unnecessarily triggering special open-front provisions where cantilevers are small.

Sections 4.3.4.1 and 4.3.4.2 of the 2015 SDPWS were additionally revised to clarify high-aspect-ratio perforated shear wall adjustments and decreased shear for higher aspect ratio walls. Using more recent perforated shear wall test data, Section 4.3.4.1 was revised to adjust the length of each perforated shear wall segment with an aspect ratio (h/bs) exceeding 2:1 (not to exceed 3.5:1) by multiplying by 2bs/h for that segment; compared to aspect ratios of 2:1 or less in previous iterations of the standard. Similarly, Section 4.3.4.2 was added to account for decreases in unit shear for higher aspect ratio walls observed from testing.

Section 3.4 was added and Section 3.2.1 was modified to address wind-uplift force-resisting systems. It describes general design considerations for the proportioning, design, and detailing of members and connections resisting wind uplift. Provisions were added requiring consideration of element strengths (members and connections) in the load path as well as effects of eccentric loading in the uplift load path.

Section 4.1.5.1 was added to address anchorage of concrete or masonry structural walls to wood diaphragms. Provisions for anchorage of concrete or masonry structural walls to wood diaphragms for seismic force resistance are subject to special detailing requirements as specified in ASCE 7-10 Section 12.11. Those provisions specify use of continuous ties or sub-diaphragms, or a combination thereof, to address load path for anchorage forces. The new Section 4.1.5.1 has been developed based on provisions of ASCE 7-10 and modifications approved for inclusion in the 2015 IBC.

Section 4.2.7.1.2 on high-load blocked diaphragms was updated to include requirements for minimum depth of framing members and blocking. Minimum requirements for width of the nailed face were provided for high-load blocked diaphragms in the 2008 SDPWS; however, requirements for minimum depth of framing members and blocking were not included. Such requirements are important to avoid splitting due to the relatively large 10d nails and higher density of nailing required for high-load blocked diaphragms. The proposed revision is also consistent with similar provisions for stapled high-load diaphragms outlined in the 2015 IBC.

Section 4.3.6.1.1 was newly added for common framing members in wood structural panel shear walls, and construction provisions for wood structural panel and particleboard shear walls were revised to permit two nominal 2x framing members to replace a nominal 3x framing member. Previously in the 2008 SPDWS, the provision for use of two nominal 2x members in lieu of a single member was only permitted as an exception for wood structural panel shear walls where nominal 3x members are required. The 2015 revisions extend this provision more broadly to all framing.

Finally, Section 4.4.1.6 was revised to permit determination of anchor bolt spacing for plates and sills in accordance with new testing and analysis (see figure below). The new standard eliminates the prescriptive 406-mm (16-in.) spacing requirement originally developed per the 2008 SDPWS.

From clarifications for open-front structures and cantilevered diaphragms, new provisions for torsional irregularity, shear wall adjustments, and other considerations for wood-frame construction based on new testing and analysis, the changes outlined in the 2015 SDPWS are significant new options for building design. While wind and seismic load requirements may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, national standards recognize wood buildings can be designed to resist these forces.

This figure showcases the new maximum anchor bolt spacing as permitted for wood framing based on the 2015 Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS). This table is included in Section 4.4.1.6 of the updated standard.  Image courtesy AWC

This figure showcases the new maximum anchor bolt spacing as permitted for wood framing based on the 2015 SDPWS. This table is included in Section 4.4.1.6 of the updated standard.

The 2015 SDPWS is available for download on the AWC website. The third part of this series will include an update on 2015 Wood Frame Construction Manual (WFCM) for One- and Two-family Dwellings, outlining new tabulated spans for lumber framing members in accordance with the new NDS for wood construction and 2015 International Residential Code (IRC).

Buddy Showalter HeadshotJohn “Buddy” Showalter, PE, joined the American Wood Council (AWC) in 1992, and currently serves as vice president of technology transfer. His responsibilities include oversight of publications, website, helpdesk, education and other technical media. Showalter is also a member of the editorial boards for Wood Design Focus, published by the Forest Products Society, and STRUCTURE magazine, published jointly by National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA), American Society of Civil Engineers/Structural Engineering Institute (ASCE/SEI), and Council of American Structural Engineers (CASE). Before joining AWC, Showalter was technical director of the Truss Plate Institute. He can be reached at bshowalter@awc.org.

Manage your own construction project

Con_JacobsNormanJrHORIZONS
By Norman F. Jacobs Jr., CSI, CPE

Project managers are the only ones who control each and every activity in construction so they must be synergistic. In many ways, after all, the ultimate success or failure lies in their hands. A responsible project manager is the chief motivator of people and positive actions and must take initiative for all operations—this means providing risk management with adequate documentation.

The astute project manager must also organize his or her game plan, and prioritize all construction activities. Then, he or she must prepare an organization chart showing staff members and their responsibilities.

This two-part series examines various strategies for effective project management, from contracts and billings to scheduling techniques.

Managing contracts, cost estimates, and billings
Risk management begins with reviewing, analyzing, responding to, and managing all contracts. There are essentially two opportunities to identify, manage, and resolve construction legal problems. The first, and best, is at the pre-contract or negotiation stage, while the second is during the contract management stage.

All construction contracts must refer to the plans and specifications, along with the general conditions. All cost estimates must be checked and analyzed to verify they include all plan and specifications requirements. The project’s schedule of values has to be prepared in the divisions shown in the specifications and be used on the monthly billings. Then, the estimate and the schedule of values can be updated to include all approved change orders.

Monthly billings for all subcontractors must be gathered, along with labor and material cost by specification divisions. Proper insurance needs to cover materials stored offsite. The project manager is to attend all monthly meetings to receive the architect’s approval of the monthly billings.

Managing all schedules
The assiduous project manager should obtain all critical path method (CPM) schedule input data from the subcontractors, architect, and engineers within two weeks after the notice to proceed. The schedule must include all work breakdown structure (WBS) activities, along with submit, approve, fabrication, and delivery activities. All activity logic and sequence have to be reviewed and critiqued.

The project schedule requires all activity durations consider the resources of manpower and equipment. Then, the specifications must be checked if dollar loading to activities are required on the schedule.

When applying durations to all activities, it is important to remember circadian rhythm—the balance of sleep and wakefulness that keeps us functioning. Research has indicated people are physiologically affected by change in the solar day cycle. Today, with the rapid trend of modern technology, every project manager must research and study the science of circadian rhythm in order to better manage the project schedule and improve productivity. The inefficiencies caused by crew size increases, or overtime work resulting from acceleration, may be avoided by working multiple shifts.

Each month, the prudent project manager is required to provide a contemporaneous update of the project’s CPM schedule, including all approved change orders and time extensions. With each update, one should also prepare a fragnet, showing each disturbance, delay, or impact.

Managing CPM schedule with TIAs
Network schedule techniques are useful in evaluating delay and impact on a project. Project managers use time impact analysis (TIA) techniques as simultaneous proof of both the facts and the cause of delays or impacts to projects. Accordingly, a TIA can be an effective tool for determining whether certain work was delayed and if it had an impact on the overall project. Some of the key advantages of networking techniques and TIA use to the project CPM schedule procedures are:

  • networking schedule techniques allow critical activities of work to be identified—the various paths of ‘criticality’ are visible, and those impacted by delay can easily be recognized (float time existing or expiring as the project changes can also be identified);
  • Time impact analysis is an effective tool for proving certain work was delayed and provides a means for isolating and quantifying delay periods;
  • when impacts or delays occur, these techniques can assist in determining correct action by the project manager; and
  • TIA aids in creating and preserving evidence of game plans, delays, impacts, and actual performance.

Managing FSA
Forensic scheduling analysis (FSA) refers to the investigation of events using CPM schedule calculation methods for potential use in a legal proceeding. It is the study of how actual activities interacted in the context of a complex model. Its purpose is to understand the significance of a specific deviation (or series) from some baseline model, and the role in determining the sequence of activities within the complex CPM schedule network diagram.

Since FSA is both a science and an art, it relies on professional judgment and expert opinion to make often-subjective decisions. The most important of these decisions are what technical approach should be used to measure and determine the causes of the delay or impact and how the analyst should apply the chosen method. The described objective is to reduce the degree of subjectivity involved in the current state of the art. This is with the full awareness there are certain types of subjectivity that cannot be minimized let alone be eliminated. Professional judgment and expert opinion ultimately rests on subjectivity.

Recommended minimum protocol for FSA is:

  • study and review all change orders and time extensions as to their placement into the project CPM schedule;
  • ensure there is at least one continuous critical path in the original CPM schedule and all monthly updates;
  • critique the project submittal log and when all entries were added to the project CPM schedule;
  • compare project daily reports as activity completions shown on the project CPM schedule; and
  • examine use of fragnets when documenting delays or impacts.

To be continued
In the next installment about project management, this author will examine the backbone of problem avoidance—construction documentation—and explore the concept of forensic documentation analysis (FDA).

Norman F. Jacobs Jr., CSI, CPE, is a principal at Jacobs Consultant Services, which offers cost management, schedule control assistance, project management, and claims preparation/negotiation. He has also served as an arbitrator, owner’s representative, and expert witness in arbitration and court involving multi-million dollar projects. Before creating his current organization, Jacobs provided design-build, construction management, and general contracting for developers, government agencies, and private clients for more than 30 years. He has served as the president of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) Richmond Chapter, chaired the Virginia Associated General Contractors (AGC) Documents Committee, and been a long-time member of organizations including the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE). He can be contacted via e-mail at jcscpm@aol.com.