When Windows Fail
In an ideal world, you'll test the mockup of your window system, it'll perform as required, and you can move on with construction. However, these mockups are used for a reason, and they often reveal problems. Sometimes the windows only need a small adjustment, like tightening the receiver or adding caulking. Other times, the problem is more complicated to remedy. In that case, it's best to call on a representative from the manufacturer of the window system to come out and assess the mockup. Together with the representative, the entire project team — including the construction manager, architect, subcontractor, suppliers, owner, and third-party consultants — will brainstorm to identify and then fix the problem with the mockup. Once the mockup works as intended, the specifications and materials are modified to account for the change.
So, now that you've fixed the problem in your mockup, your window system is perfect and you can relax during construction, right? Not exactly. Unfortunately, the weakest link in construction is the human factor. We all know that to err is human and with hundreds of windows to install, workers can easily overlook something or install the window incorrectly. It's important for the superintendent onsite to continually spot check the work to ensure that each window is installed correctly. It's also important to set the tone early with all the workers onsite that substandard work will not be tolerated.
Right the First Time
The mockup process is beneficial in ensuring that all members of the design and construction team have the same performance and quality expectations. Testing windows and spot-checking work takes up a lot of time at the front end of the process, but the benefits will pay off for a long time. If your building leaks after it's built, you won't remember that the building was finished on schedule — you'll only focus on the fact that your window is leaking. It's essential to take the time in the beginning to fix these issues before they become problems because, oftentimes, when they do become problems, everyone on your project team has moved on and your building is no longer the top priority.
Quality programs and mockups do take time and do cost money, but they can help ensure that you won't be standing in a puddle ten years after your building was built.
Dave Griffin is a senior project manager with Erland Construction. He has 20 years of experience in the construction industry. Ray Madore is a general superintendent for the firm. He has been in the construction industry for almost 40 years.