Glaziers discuss common GC and CM problems

By Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor, Glass Magazine
October 7, 2008
COMMERCIAL : MANAGEMENT

More coverage from the Glazing Executives Forum:

During a breakout session of the third annual Glazing Executives Forum Oct. 6 in Las Vegas, a group of about 50 glazing professionals discussed common issues they face with general contractors and construction managers. Below are problems discussed during the session.

Facing delays
Contract glaziers face two major challenges with project scheduling: glazing products have longer lead times than other materials, and they are at the mercy of all trades that come before, because they are one of the last trades onsite

“[Glaziers] and the HVAC guys are the only trades that can’t get their materials at Home Depot. It takes a long time to get our products,” said Gregg Lynch, president, Panoramic Window & Door Systems Inc., Piscataway, N.J. “And then we get to the job site, and there are hundreds of other subcontractors in the way.”

The best defense against scheduling problems is good communication about schedule requirements.

“If we get a contract without a schedule, we submit one,” said Tim Lietaert, president and CEO, Glazing Concepts Inc., Corona, Calif. “It helps to be proactive up front.”

Pre-contract meetings also allow opportunities for glaziers to go over their needs.

Competing with low-price bidders
General contractors want to reduce costs, and as a result, they often look for the lowest priced bidder to complete a job. The price competition has become fierce, and some glazing contractors are putting out low bids that won’t allow them to make a profit, several glazing executives said during the session. “I would rather walk away from a potential job than throw out a low bid, Lynch said. “The lowest price is not the best offer.”

Dealing with change orders
Several attendees said that change orders are becoming common place, as general contractors often request subcontractor bids before the final architect drawings are complete. Change orders can mean more products and services from the subcontractor than what was included in the accepted bid; and getting paid for additional products and services over the bid can become tricky business.

Companies can protect themselves by keeping detailed and dated records that show the status of the design when the project was bid. Language can also be added into the contract that specifies what the bid covers.

The group of executives also addressed directives, design/build scenarios, inconsistent plans and specifications, and dimension problems.

Problems are inevitable, but one of the best ways a company can ensure they will be protected is by creating relationships with their general contractors, and not working with general contractors that act in bad faith.

“We write them off and don’t bid their jobs anymore,” said Rusty Theut, president, The Theut Cos., Columbus, Texas. “When they are looking for quality work, they will call us, and we tell them why we haven’t been bidding. … They will start to change. We deal with companies that act in good faith, so we can build a team concept on the job.”