Information About CONSTRUCT


SHOW DATES & LOCATION

Education: September 13-15, 2017

Exhibits: September 14-15, 2017

Rhode Island Convention Center | Providence, RI, USA

 

ONSITE REGISTRATION HOURS

Wednesday, September 13, 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Thursday, September 14, 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday, September 15, 7:00 AM – 4:30 PM   

 

EXHIBIT HALL HOURS

Thursday, September 14: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Friday, September 15: 11:00 AM - 4:30 PM

 

CONFERENCE SESSIONS

Wednesday, September 13: 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM

Thursday, September 14: 7:45 AM - 9:15 AM

Friday, September 15: 7:30 AM - 11:00 AM

 

EVENTS

NEWCOMER RECEPTION

Tuesday, September 12: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

 

Let's Fix Construction: An Interactive Luncheon

Wednesday, Sept. 13, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

 

CSI WELCOME RECEPTION

Wednesday, September 13: 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM

 

Click here for the full schedule of events.

<![CDATA[ Let's Fix Construction - Blog ]]> Wed, 05 Jul 2017 14:22:36 -0400 Weebly <![CDATA[ Insurance & Bonds & Warranties, Oh My! ]]> Tue, 27 Jun 2017 03:48:38 GMT http://www.letsfixconstruction.com/blog/insurance-bonds-warranties-oh-my
Contributed by ​Randy Nishimura
Construction insurance, bonds, and warranties are among the most confusing and inscrutable matters requiring the everyday attention of everyone involved with design and construction. Consequently, it’s important for building industry professionals to understand their various forms and the salient features of each that distinguish their fundamental purposes.

Accidents happen. Losses occur. Things break or don’t work like they’re supposed to. To “fix” these problems entails prescribing responsibilities and providing assurances necessary to safeguard the interests of the various parties involved in today’s increasingly complex building processes. This is the role of construction insurance, bonds, and warranties.

In a nutshell, they may be defined and distinguished as follows: 

Construction Insurance
Fundamentally, insurance is a financial risk management tool, the primary concept of which involves the transference of the risk of potential financial loss from the insured to an insurance company in exchange for a monetary premium. 

Most everyone is familiar with insurance in one form or another, such as automobile insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or health insurance. Construction industry insurance is similar, protecting policy holders from catastrophic financial losses in the event of a claim or occurrence. 

Construction insurance includes coverage for general liability related to claims for bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and others that can arise from construction-related activities. There are also professional liability policies, that protect individuals and companies from the full cost of defending claims of negligence, primarily for errors & omissions (after all, humans sometimes will make mistakes). Other forms of liability insurance include policies for managerial liability, and liability risks related to pollution, the actions of company directors and officers, cyber activities, and workers’ compensation. Excess liability policies provide coverage limits above those of an underlying liability policy, and are sometimes a contractual requirement on construction projects. 

Construction insurance also includes property insurance. Builder’s risk policies offer coverage in the event of property losses, protecting the insurable interests in materials, fixtures, and/or equipment being used in the construction or renovation of a building. Builder’s risk insurance can be purchased either by the owner or the general contractor, depending upon the terms of the Contract for Construction. It is usually a statutory requirement for public work. Inland marine coverage (a peculiar term) protects property in transit, as well as the instrumentalities of transportation (the bridges, roads, and piers, etc.). 

Property insurance purchased by one party can also provide coverage for the business or personal property of others, who become additional named insureds on the policy. This kind of coverage is often used in the instances where an owner may rely upon the insured contractor to provide protection of property the owner has paid for but is not yet part of the completed work (such as for materials stored in an off-site warehouse). 

Some cautionary words about construction insurance: Insurance, the saying goes, is like Swiss cheese. There’s a lot of substance to it but a lot of holes as well. It’s in everyone’s best interest to understand required and recommended coverages for any construction project. It’s also important to avoid limiting coverage through poor contract language. Equally important for everyone involved with a construction project is to review contractual requirements related to indemnification with their respective insurance providers. Finally, coordinating, verifying, and tracking certificates are keys to effectively managing insurance products. 
Surety Bonds
The easiest way to distinguish surety bonds from insurance policies is to understand that insurance provides protection from things beyond your control, whereas bonds come into play upon a breach of a contractual obligation. A bond is itself essentially a form of contract between a principal (the contractor) and the surety company (the “rich uncle” so to speak). It is a third party, usually the owner, who is the claimant when a bond is exercised. 

The various forms of surety bonds include bid bonds, performance bonds, payment bonds, and maintenance bonds: 

Bid bonds provide financial protection to the owner if a bidder is awarded a contract pursuant to the bidding process, but fails to sign the contract and provide required performance and payment bonds. The bid bond process also helps to screen out unqualified bidders and is often necessary to the process of competitive bidding.

Performance and Payment bonds protect an owner from financial loss in the event the contractor fails to perform the contract in accordance with its terms and conditions. With cause, an owner can declare a contractor in default and terminate the contract, and then can call on the surety to meet the surety’s obligations under the bond. 

Surety companies prequalify contractors based on their financial strength, construction expertise, and ability to perform the proposed work. By requiring surety bonds, owners present themselves with a level of assurance that the selected contractor will fulfill its contractual obligations successfully. Regardless, private owners do not always require contractors to furnish bonds because they increase the cost of a project. On the other hand, all public agencies do require performance and payment bonds. The bonds provide subcontractors and suppliers with remedies for losses for non-performance by the principal in the absence of construction lien rights on public projects.

Maintenance bonds are purchased by a contractor and protect the owner of a completed construction project for a specified period against defects and faults in materials and workmanship. The purpose is to provide the owner with a means to ensure the cost to resolve problems is not an issue. 

A key concept associated with surety bonds is that a contractor who has had a claim filed against a bond must repay the surety for any compensation it makes to the obligee (the owner). 

Warranties
One of the more vexing topics for anyone involved with construction is the purpose and true scope of warranties. Warranties are not to be confused with the correction period (usually one year in duration from the date of Substantial Completion), which is the time during which the contractor has the obligation to rectify deficient work. The correction period is associated with the contractor’s responsibility to generally correct deficiencies, whereas warranties apply to the need to complete a project in accordance with specific requirements of the contract documents. Warranties are a representation made by one party that another party can rely on. Warranties may be expressed (in writing) or implied (not directly stated but assumed to exist under common law). 

The problem with written warranties is that you need to fully understand what they say. Manufacturers are careful to only warrant what they directly control. Also, the scope of one manufacturer’s warranty may differ significantly from that of another manufacturer even though their products or systems may otherwise be similar and meet the project’s specified requirements; accordingly, it is incumbent on the design professional to clearly (and realistically) define warranty requirements and subsequently review submitted them with care to ensure the warranty provisions fully comply with them. 

What about “guarantees?” How is a guarantee different from a warranty? A guarantee is generally synonymous with a warranty; the difference is a guarantee is more akin to a surety bond, wherein someone makes a promise to be responsible for another’s debts or obligations. 

Class Limitations Periods
It's important to be cognizant of the time limits on claims under different circumstances and how they might apply to insurance and warranties. 

A statute of repose is intended to bar actions after a specified period has run from completion of a project. A typical state of repose period runs for 10 years for public projects, and 6 years for commercial projects. 

A statute of limitations differs from a statute of repose by being triggered by an “injury” or claim for damages. The time limits vary depending upon the nature of the claim and the state within which the claim is filed. Typical limitation periods include 6 years for breach of contract, 4 years for product liability, 2 years for upon disclosure of negligence, and 2 years from the date of discovery for design defects. 

This means a plaintiff can file a claim for, say, faulty construction within four years of identifying the problem if the statute of repose has not already been exceeded. 

*    *    *    *    *    *
As suggested earlier, construction insurance, surety bonds, and warranties are complex, nuanced, and confusing subjects. This article only begins to scratch their surfaces. The bottom line is circumstances will necessitate calling upon insurance, bonds, or warranties. In those instances, they become mechanisms for the satisfactory execution of a project or to help make parties whole in the event of a loss. This are precisely the reasons why we all should know them well.

(Editor's note: An earlier version of this post appeared on Randy's blog, which you can read here.)
]]> <![CDATA[ Collaboration: for a Better Tomorrow ]]> Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:41:09 GMT http://www.letsfixconstruction.com/blog/collaboration-for-a-better-tomorrow
Contributed by David Stutzman
Design and construction projects require an enormous number of participants to complete each facility. The basic teams include owners, architects, contractors, and suppliers. The lines of communication are well defined, especially after the construction contract is executed. But how are the teams collaborating before the contract is signed?

In no particular order…

Architect-Owner

The relationship between the owner and architect is well defined by the agreement for the design services. According to AIA agreement Document B101, the owner and architect share information at each design phase. The owner provides the project program and budget. The architect reviews the information and advises the owner if there are any concerns before the design is started. They discuss alternatives for the design approach and for the construction project delivery method. The communication is nearly continuous as the design is refined and solidified while progressing to the completion of the construction documents.

Contractor

When the owner retains a contractor or construction manager for preconstruction services, the architect communicates with the contractor about cost, schedule, and constructability. When the architect and contractor are collaborating during design phases, the owner can have greater confidence that the ultimate design will meet the owner’s budget and schedule.

Supplier

Product representatives, whether manufacturer’s direct employees or independent representatives, will meet with the architect team, including the specifier, to advise about the use of specific products for particular applications. The discussion is particularly valuable to resolve unusual conditions, to verify the product performance will meet the owner’s project requirements, and to understand the product cost implications created by the design decisions.

Specifier

The specifier typically begins by challenging the architect – asking many questions to determine the design intent and confirm project systems, assemblies, products, and materials.  The Q&A process becomes a dialog to ensure all aspects of the project will be specified correctly so the owner realizes the quality expected in the completed facility.

The specifier may recommend alternative systems and products that offer advantages to the project. And the specifier will connect the architect to suppliers, subcontractors, and other resources needed to solve particular design problems. The architect and specifier discuss alternatives to determine the optimal design solutions for each application.

Subcontractor

Subcontractors provide invaluable real-world experience, with both product and installation. They can advise architects and specifiers about the practicality of construction details, installation sequencing, system costs, and product availability through local distribution channels. The owner may engage subcontractors during design to provide design assist services to develop project specific details and shop drawings before design is complete.

Unlike suppliers who typically furnish product prices only, subcontractors can provide installed system costs that reflect the expected project complexity.

Availability can be a significant issue, especially for short duration projects and just-in-time manufacturing. When architects select the perfect product that is not available in time, project completion may be delayed.

Collaboration

Traditionally, the subcontractor is rarely given an opportunity to contribute during the design process, except as part of a design assist process. The architect team, including specifiers, tends to rely on suppliers for product and system information. Suppliers are rarely responsible for complete systems, while subcontractors always are responsible for complete systems.  Be sure to include subcontractors in the process.

Each team and every team member has a contribution to make. The best design responses will take advantage of experience and expertise that is readily available. Together, through active collaboration before the construction contract is signed, the teams can help ensure the owner’s project requirements will be met when construction is complete.

(Editor's note: This blog post, along with numerous others, appeared originally on the Conspectus website.  You can view an archive of Conspectus' posts here.
]]> <![CDATA[ #FixConstruction at #CONSTRUCT 2017 ]]> Tue, 13 Jun 2017 09:55:06 GMT http://www.letsfixconstruction.com/blog/fixconstruction-at-construct-2017
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
2017 will be my seventh straight #CONSTRUCT conference. For those unaware, CONSTRUCT is the Construction Specifications Institute's annual meeting and affiliated trade show, now presented by Informa. I attended my first CONSTRUCT with the full education package in 2011 in Chicago, I returned to Phoenix in 2012, Nashville in 2013, Baltimore in 2014, St. Louis in 2015 and Austin in 2016.

For this year's conference, taking place September 13-15, 2017, at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island, I had the privilege of serving on the conference Advisory Council with a slew of other construction industry professionals. We assisted in culling down the 200+ submitted proposals down to over 40 available presentations, where participants at CONSTRUCT can earn over a year’s worth of CEUs, including 18.5 AIA LUs/HSW.

What's new at CONSTRUCT for 2017?  Well, for me, I'll be presenting. TWICE!

I am honored to deliver one of the Featured Sessions on Day 1, Wednesday, September 13th, with my partner-in-crime-and-education, and co-founder of this blog, Cherise Lakeside. Titled 'Let's Fix Construction: An Interactive Luncheon', it is based on this website and blog and we do hope that over a lunch meeting we can demonstrate how you can improve communication, collaboration, unique ideas and the sharing of perspectives from different disciplines.  Please more on this session here.

On the final morning of CONSTRUCT, you can find Cherise and I back together to co-present 'She’s a Specifier, He’s a Product Rep: Different Roles, Same Goals'. We hope that by representing both sides of an architectural sales call, we will be able to educate both parties in a dynamic manner.

Registration is now open for CONSTRUCT, which is the only dedicated national event specifically designed to provide the commercial building team with real-world, practical products and education solutions. The Exhibit Hall will be packed with 200+ exhibitors spanning over 28,000+ net square feet. covering everything from air barriers to fire protection systems, coatings to architectural hardware, and much more, Exhibiting companies will showcase products, services and technologies for commercial building industry professionals who design, build, renovate or operate in the built environment. 

You just missed out on saving 35% on your registration  fees. Rates are now up and posted at  https://www.constructshow.com/en/register.html.

You can read the official press release here announcing registration.

The press release which announces the Keynote, Game Changer and Featured Sessions (which includes Let's Fix Construction) and Speakers for 2017 can be read here. 

If you are interested in a FREE Exhibit Hall Pass, you may click on the graphic below to register for one.

If you are unable to make CONSTRUCT in 2017, and are interested in the LIVE #FixConstruction program, you can host your ow!  Please visit our Live Events page here which also includes the Portland, Oregon Chapter of CSI hosted event on July 27th at the Ankrom Moisan Offices.

​I hope to see you in Providence. 

]]> <![CDATA[ Just the Facts: Sustainable Design Requirements ]]> Tue, 06 Jun 2017 02:00:44 GMT http://www.letsfixconstruction.com/blog/just-the-facts-sustainable-design-requirements
Contributed by Karl Michels
​The recent growth of programs advocating sustainable design is numerous:  LEED, Living Building Challenge, mindful MATERIALS, etc.  Through all of these, though, there seems to be a disconnect between specified products and installed items.  The owner is paying for something he didn’t receive, the architect is delivering a product they didn’t envision, the contractor is building a project that is not as described, and the manufacturer missed out on a sale of a product designed for the task.     

The Boss noticed a continuing pattern of building projects where there is a difference in collaboration and specification language of sustainable design between architects, engineers, and contractors and he wants me to look into it. Something’s not right in these specs and I can’t quite figure it out, but, I’m on it. My name is Specman; I carry a bunch of technical sheets.

 *     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *           

8:15 AM.  The sun is bright, the coffee burnt, and my head is splitting.  I have been at this since 5 am this morning.  I reach into the desk drawer, shake the last two aspirin out of the bottle, and knock them back with the lousy coffee.   It’s going to be one of those days.   Thank God for the pharmaceutical guys; they’re my helpers. The 010000 General Conditions and 018113 Sustainable Design specifications are pretty clear.  Why didn’t this project get built with the appropriate materials as specified?  I don’t quite get it. 
                              
9:02 AM.  I phone the architectural specifier.  “Specifier”, she barks into the phone.  “What do you want?”  She’s a hard driven cookie; smart, but tough. Billable hours are important, there’s no time for small talk.   I called her Honey when I first met her; she made it quite clear she wasn’t an ex-wife or current girlfriend. Just because she was female didn’t mean she didn’t know her stuff and I would be well served to address her appropriately.  She was right then and right now.  She doesn’t know, however, that I call her Toots behind her back.    “Look, I need some answers and I know you can give them to me”.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. What’s the deal with the intent of sustainable design that only encompasses half of the project?” I ask.

“What are you talking about, Specman?” she answers. “A sustainable project is sustainable throughout.  We just finished issuing the documents on that LEED Plutonium Level building. You know, the one intended to be loved and cherished by the community for time immortal. We covered all the bases:  Fasteners are made solely of recycled horseshoes; Ventilation is air movement generated by the wings of 100,000 Monarch butterflies and the Finishes are comprised of the most ecologically responsible building materials with a minimum 20% recycled rainbow content verified by an independent third party. What more is there?” I increasingly get the feeling I might be grabbing a tiger by the tail.    

“Well”, I answered, “someone else didn’t get the memo.  The engineer hired by you to design the parts of the building no one sees in this same project advocated Electrical Wiring as “throughout” and Piping as “leak free.”  Will that meet your sustainable design criteria?” 
There is a noticeable pause in the reply.  “Honestly, I don’t have the the time to review the entire 6 inch project manual filled with 2 inches of collaboration specifications from them”, she tells me.  “I simply skim through it and check to see he hasn’t chosen brown outlet covers when everything else is ivory; if so, we’re good to go.  We hired the engineer for their expertise and have worked successfully with them in the past; they know what we want.  If they aren’t advocating sustainable practices, your beef is there.  Go talk to them”.   

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *    

11:30 AM.  Traffic is light; I get to the engineers office in a moderate amount of time.  “Look you know how it is:  2 buildings, 550,000 total square feet, with cantilevered decking, solar panels, floating structural beams, and a mechanized chariot system to ferry guests between the towers.  And what do they give us to work with in the mechanical area? Six inches of clearance in the chase where I have to run all of my related mechanical components.  What would you do?” Like most engineers, he is the practical type: logical and to the point. I like that.  “I have to shoehorn a size 12 foot into a size 10 shoe.  It’s as if the architect forgets I have needs as well.  Let’s face it:  the basic performance of some common mechanical materials hasn’t changed much since their inception, anyway.  It’s not like electrical wiring has changed a whole lot since the days of Ben Franklin and his kite string.”  

He’s got a point.  

I ask him, “Yeah, but, there have been some noticeable sustainability improvements.   Today, some of that “kite string” is encapsulated in lead free, halogen-free materials. If the project in question is a sustainable project, doesn’t it make sense to specify these environmentally friendly products rather than the standard plastic coated type in the project as well?  And, shouldn’t you just be employing a best practice of designing around sustainable materials whether you get a plaque or not?”

“Listen, we don’t design all projects to win some type of sustainable award”, he says.  “Besides, we always include the language of ‘Drawings and general provisions of the Contract, including General and Supplementary Conditions and Division 01 Specification Sections, apply to this Section’ for them to read if it is sustainable  They should be reading the entire specification; not just the part that applies to them.   If the subs aren’t installing the stuff in the specs, then the General has a problem.  Look pal, go talk to the General.”  

I’m already headed for the door. That fallback position of referring to the canned language always frustrates me.  Wouldn’t it be more helpful to include the full sustainable intent language into the Part 1 General Section of each specification of the particular trade rather than referencing an earlier section that won’t be read?  “Oh.  One last thing”, he says. 

“Yeah?”  

“Cost.”

“How’s that?”

“That sustainable stuff never pencils out.”

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *    

12:20 PM and I am racing like crazy to get to the food truck pod.  The Wednesday special of Hawaiian ahi poke is a favorite of mine and always a sellout.  If I don’t get there quick, the poke will be gone and then I will have to consider the meatless choices.   I am a rep, I don’t make much money, I’m hungry, and I hate kale salad.   

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *

It’s 3 PM.  The lacquered nailed young receptionist is gracious and friendly.  “Can I get you something to drink while you wait?” she asks.  My reply of “Yeah, how about a scotch? Neat.” gets the obligatory laugh and smile while all the while I know she’s thinking:  this guy is an idiot. Hey, I got the shtick down and been using it a long time; it’s not about to change now.  I wave off the offer and hang out for a few minutes.  The leather couch in the office reception area framed with yellowing pictures of a bunch of pudgy middle-aged guys in suits with shovels turning some dirt on a project from 15 years ago is cushy and soft.  “The project manager will see you now”.

“Understand, Mr. Specman, I am sympathetic to your issue, however, we build the project at the direction and under approval of the architect.  He’s our boss.”  I’m speaking with a young project manager in the firm. This is the first major project assigned to him after managing a bunch of small tenant improvement projects.  His last one was the creation of a Subway sandwich shop out of a former insurance agent’s office. He continues, “We issue a 6 inch stack of specifications, the sub copies the 40 pages relevant to his craft, and the installer gets the 2 pages that pertain to them.  He then chooses one of the 5 manufacturers listed as acceptable in section 2 of the CSI Materials format.  He may or may not have material that meets the sustainable requirements of documents. And time is money.  We can’t always wait for the exact material to get shipped on site.  Besides, if the lights go on and function after we build it, what difference does it make if it is not comprised of your precious hand spun, halogen free, electrical wire?”

The fact that the aspirin I took 7 hours ago had fully evaporated a mere 30 minutes later and the intent of that question initiates the launch sequence of my frustration of the entire day.   “I tell you what difference it makes:  It’s guys like you that put guys like me in a tough position”.  I suddenly realize my voice is now a bit more intense, my speech a bit more rapid.  “The full faith and hope of a future generation are resting on our shoulders; my grandkids, your grandkids, the grandkids of the people you employ. The idea that sustainable design only extends to shiny bike racks, bio-swales, and green roofs and cannot be achieved elsewhere on a project is misguided. The function of the material may not have changed, but the sustainable attributes associated with it have.  If those type of products are not used, what will end up being installed is what is readily available, cheapest and, I guarantee it, not meeting the sustainable goals of the project”, I answer.  “And that, builder boy, was not what you contracted to deliver!”

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *     *    

Drawing strange looks from those around me, I am walking down the street talking aloud retelling my story to no one in particular.  My shirt is rumpled, I think my elbow may be sprained, and my one pant leg is torn at the knee as it got banged on the exit door while being hustled out by a couple of guys.  I am sore, but hey, I will make it.   I’ve been thrown out of better offices; might be a while before I am back in that one. Through it all, though, there is one nagging thing I know I am forgetting and can’t seem to remember.  How do we address the need for “better communication” between all parties? Everyone will agree it is important, but how should it be accomplished? I think that inserting the Sustainable Design Requirements CSI Section 01 81 13 into all applicable sections of specifications is a start. To simply reference an earlier section and point to it as meeting the goals of the project appears shortsighted.  Wouldn’t it be easier to include this in all sections of the Master Specification? Should the project not be sustainable based as described by the architect, it can certainly be omitted from the particular job specification. Better yet, shouldn’t all interested parties in a sustainable project be fully focused on that goal for all of the projects they create?   I am not sure I have the answer.  

I walk past a drugstore and then it hits me:  the thing I was trying to remember.  I need to pick up a bottle of aspirin. 
]]> <![CDATA[ The Misconception Series - Gypsum Board ]]> Tue, 30 May 2017 13:29:27 GMT http://www.letsfixconstruction.com/blog/the-misconception-series-gypsum-board
Pictu
]]>
<![CDATA[
re
Gypsum Crystal Formation Underground. Photo courtesy of the Gypsum Association www.gypsum.org
Contributed by Elias Saltz
As a consulting specifier, my clients come to me for my expertise, and to bolster my knowledge I frequently find myself in conversations with product reps, talking about the nitty-gritty technical aspects of their products.  These conversations delve into a far deeper level of detail than I would previously get when I was a ‘normal’ design architect and project manager. Over the course of those conversations, I am occasionally surprised that things I thought I knew a lot about were based on misconceptions.  In fact, even things that I considered “common knowledge” have been shown to be wrong, or at least over-simplifications.  Armed with accurate information, I can pass correct technical advice on to my clients, hopefully dispelling those misconceptions one person at a time, one project at a time. 
 
Which leads me to the idea for this series of posts.  Misconceptions can be found across the spectrum, in every product category and in every MasterFormat number.  I thought it would be fun and enlightening to ask my go-to reps in a wide variety of product categories to tell me the biggest and most common misconceptions they hear as they work with designers and architects, and present their responses here.  In each post I’ll relate my discussion with reps in one category or one MasterFormat header.  So without any further ado, today’s Misconceptions.
 
The reps I chose to approach for this post, Andy Vegter from USG and Thad Goodman from National Gypsum, are both active and involved CSI members that I’ve come to know well over my career.  I consider them my trusted advisors when it comes to questions about their companies’ lines of gypsum-based products.  I’m not promoting their products over their competitors’ - it’s far more about the individual reps than the companies that they work for.
 
Without any further ado, today’s Misconceptions.
 
09 29 00 - Gypsum Board
 
I asked Andy and Thad this question:
 
“When you think about the questions and comments you hear from design professionals across all levels of experience, what misconceptions about gypsum products do you find that you most commonly have to dispel?”
 
First, this brief introduction - What is gypsum/gypsum board, anyway?”

Gypsum is a natural mineral, chemically made up of calcium and sulfur bound to oxygen and water.  It is found naturally in sedimentary rock formations, with some of the world’s largest natural reserves in North America. A synthetic version, which is a byproduct of coal burning electric power plants, is chemically identical to natural gypsum.  Some gypsum board manufacturing plants are fed with mostly synthetic gypsums and others are built over a mine where the gypsum is coming out of the ground.  Synthetic gypsum is considered a recycled material by sustainability rating systems, so projects seeking certification can specify that gypsum panels be made up of 90% recycled content.  It’s important to remember that not all products are available from plants that use synthetic gypsum. 
 
Gypsum board is manufactured when gypsum is mixed with water and additives to form a slurry which is then fed between continuous layers of paper or another type of facer.  Through a chemical process, the slurry hardens to its original rock state, and the facer becomes bonded to the gypsum core.  The boards are then cut to size and dried.
 
What follows are some of the most frequent misconceptions and misunderstandings that the reps related, followed by the correct information.
“Type X Gypsum Board is Fire Rated.”
Gypsum board by itself has no fire rating.  Ratings are conferred by testing agencies on full assemblies, which include everything that goes into the construction of that assembly: gypsum panels, studs, insulation, resilient channels, etc. While it is not fire rated, a single layer of drywall acts as a thermal barrier, protecting concealed foam plastics from ignition in a fire for a period of fifteen minutes, as required by model codes.
 
“Mold-resistant gypsum board is mold proof.”
In reality, nothing is mold proof.  Mold spores are everywhere, and they just need a food source and moisture in order to grow.  Mold-resistant gypsum board products have paper faces that are treated to retard mold growth, but the best and most cost-effective strategy to manage the risk of mold is to prevent the intrusion of water into the building and to encourage wet materials to dry rapidly.  In addition to mold-resistant paper-faced gypsum board, which is recommended for use in conditions where incidental moisture is present, there are glass mat-faced products that are tolerant of direct water and prolonged humidity. 
 
“The STC ratings on standard details are what I’ll get.”
STC testing is done in a perfect lab environment on a wall with no penetrations or places where sound flanking can occur.  In the real world, sound flanking can occur with electrical boxes, lack of acoustical sealant at the base or top of the wall, and around doors and windows.  Expect an STC performance loss of at least five points compared to the STC tested result in the lab.
 
“Type X Drywall can be used in all fire-rated assemblies” 
Most rated gypsum ceiling assemblies require Type C, but Type X is frequently used and accepted by mistake.  Type X does not match the fire performance of Type C.  As a rule of thumb, remember “C” for “Ceiling” when the ceiling is part of the fire rated assembly, but read the tested design requirements carefully because there might be exceptions to that rule.
 
“I won’t have cracks in my wall as long as I follow the 30 foot spacing rule for control joints.” 
In reality, control joints reduce the risk of cracking, but do not eliminate it.  The amount of movement anticipated is what should dictate control spacing and placement.  Installation specifications and a guide for spacing control joints is described in ASTM C 840, “Standard Specification for Application and Finishing of Gypsum Board.”  Also, cracking can occur if deflection from structure above the top of a wall is not accommodated in the wall assembly.  Gypsum board and stud manufacturers have numerous recommended methods for taking up the deflection.
 
“Level 5 Drywall will be perfectly smooth” 
The levels of gypsum board finishing is very confusing and mostly overlooked until there’s a problem.  The five levels of finish were developed by a collaboration of the manufacturers and associations within the paint and gypsum industries as a way to manage the expectations of the appearance a finished wall by the architect and owner.  They are described in ASTM C 840, which is based on Gypsum Association’s document GA-214-15.  All walls have blemishes and imperfections that can be exaggerated by critical light, glossy paints, quality of framing, quality of finishing, quality of drywall primer, and workmanship.  GA-214-15 includes mock-up walls giving you an opportunity to set expectations and receive Owner acceptance before the work is complete.
 
Conclusion
 
No building material is free of complicated qualifications regarding its use.  Architects and specifiers often collapse these qualifications into rules of thumb that they use when they generate designs and specifications.  Many of these rules of thumb are generally useful but when you dig deeper, they are often based on obsolete or incorrect information.  Experienced product reps have seen and helped solve many real-life problems that have arisen through incorrect product selection, bad detailing and poor specifications.  They are a critical resource that can help us update our knowledge and dispel our misconceptions.
 
My thanks to Andy and Thad for participating in this project. 

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