It's the Season - Let's Tackle!

by Jori B.L. Smith, CSI, CDT, LEED AP, Southwest Region President

Pre-construction services has become a big part of my work as a general contractor, a trend that I believe is a big step in the right direction.  But it’s given me greater awareness of a situation that’s also been growing – subcontractors  who are called in to provide their expert advice regarding most appropriate product/system selections, maybe come to a couple of meetings, give some unit pricing for budget purposes.  These trade experts hope they will receive the job, that maybe we won’t even bid it out.  But we almost always do bid it out.  The project where competitive bidding isn’t necessary is a rare one these days.  Why doesn’t our industry pay consulting fees for this expertise?  The EXPERTS deserve to be recognized as such, and treated with the respect they deserve. 

My first thought was – we, the industry, need to discuss this. 

Then, at CONSTRUCT2014, I attended a presentation titled:  “Designing Contractors: The Project Team’s Guide to Design-Assist, Delegated Design, and Design-Build, Design-Build” presented by Vivian Volz, CSI, CCS, of the San Francisco Chapter.  It turns out this is a topic that hits a nerve, and goes deeper than I realized.  Door hardware companies are employing specifiers full-time, some of whom do nothing but build the door hardware schedule for the architect for FREE – no contract, no fee, no insurance, and no liability.  Then a pre-cast concrete manufacturer raised his hand – in his region, they are also asked to provide this design work up front, for FREE – no fee, no contract, no insurance and no liability.  Wow, this is about more than taking advantage of competitive companies who are willing to do some work for free.   Life-Safety, the Owner, and the architect’s practice, may potentially be at risk when situations like this occur in our project development process.  We, the industry, urgently need to address this issue. 

CSI is the perfect place to do that.  That’s what I love about CSI.  We have all the players, ready to tackle the issues from all angles.  It takes a group effort to solve problems that touch all members of the project team.  I hope you’ll join with your fellow CSI members to discuss and tackle the important issues confronting our industry.  That’s one of the most important functions of CSI.