Communication and concrete slabs

Crack size and spacing is largely determined by the quantity of distributed steel reinforcement. The designer and owner should discuss the cost versus benefit of additional reinforcing.

Successful completion of a slab project is streamlined and simplified when team members fully understand their own and each other’s responsibilities. All should be willing to closely coordinate the work. The following are responsibilities typically assumed by each team member.

The owner’s responsibilities generally include communicating expectations for floor finishes, flatness, coverings, and how the slab is to be loaded and used. Detailed descriptions—including anticipated forklift loads, rack loads, storage loads, and other live loads—should be provided. It should also detail any unusual usage conditions, which may include pushing pallets versus lifting them, unusual temperature conditions, and movement of large equipment.

The slab form and finish should be well-defined by the owner, including desired construction joint spacing and acceptable floor flatness and levelness. The owner should make clear its expectations regarding slab edge curling, acceptable quantity and width of cracks, and deflection and vibration limitations for elevated slabs. Expectations regarding maintenance should also be conveyed, as this will impact the spacing of joints within the slabs-on-grade and the finish.

Design professional
The design professional’s responsibilities typically involve identifying the owner’s performance requirements and preparing contract documents, including drawings and specifications, to meet them. He or she should review and discuss the proposed design along with preliminary budgetary information with the owner, revising the design depending on the results of these discussions. The design professional should also discuss owner expectations with the contractor and its subcontractors and suppliers, and should understand and address the contractor’s concerns regarding the design and local practice limitations.

Leveling material being placed on an elevated slab. Preconstruction discussions between team members should address details of leveling, crack repair, and other potential slab remediation procedures.

Additionally, repair guidelines and allowances within the project documents must state the requirements for correcting floor cracking, flatness, curling, and levelness. Limitations on the number of cracks, crack widths, floor flatness and levelness, deflection, and curling should be provided within the project documents with proposed repair techniques.

The contractor is responsible for carefully reviewing the contract documents to understand the project requirements. Prior to construction commencement, contractors should discuss the design and owner’s expectations with its subcontractors, suppliers, and the design professional, and understand any limitations or special conditions that may affect the work. Through discussions with the subcontractors and suppliers, it should communicate any local practices that may impact the project. Finally, once all expectations and design requirements are understood, the contractor should perform the work per the construction documents and industry standards.

MasterFormat specifically addresses meetings related to the construction of the structure, not its design. MasterFormat Section 01 31 00–Project Management and Coordination and Section 03 30 00–Cast-in-place Concrete both address construction meetings involving cast-in-place concrete construction. The referenced documents discuss up to six different meeting types and list the required attendees. The owner and design professional are required at each of these meetings except the pre-installation conference. Since the 
pre-installation meeting is the last ‘best chance’ prior to construction to ensure all team members have adequate understanding of the expectations for the slab and any limitations that need to be discussed, owner and design professional attendance is strongly recommended. Attendance allows the owner and design professional to hear first-hand all construction team concerns and assist in making consensus compromises to the design and construction procedures.

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