G3: Industry insiders talk glass

What are the most common glass and glazing products that are value engineered out of a project? What can you do to ensure this doesn't happen?
April 10, 2012


Courtney Little, president, Ace Glass Construction Corp.  

“We haven't seen a lot of value engineering on our recent projects. We have been doing the kind of projects that have monumental glass systems, and projects that feature custom hardware or custom dies. These are things that [on other projects] might be taken out of the scope for budget. Glass continues to get better pricing, and [architects and owners] can get a better value on higher performing products and better performance paint coatings. One suggestion we might make to architects [in terms of VE] would be to switch from custom to standard, such as from a custom paint coating to a standard offering.

In general, when it comes to VE, the best way to maintain the scope is to become a partner on projects early on, when there is so much work with the budget. ... The architect is looking to the glazier for solutions [as] we are the building envelope professionals. We encourage the industry to think like professionals, and go from being material suppliers to professionals.”


Dan Hope, president, Santa Barbara Glass Co. 

“Most homeowners who are remodeling their bathrooms want the heavy frameless shower enclosure using the nice, heavy ½-inch glass. Unfortunately, when it's time to purchase the shower enclosure, they are at the tail end of the remodel, and more often than not, their budgets are exhausted. ... There are always alternatives to helping the customer meet their design ideas as well as the budget. It really comes down to talking with them and having the knowledge to know what can be done without exceeding manufacturer specifications and [compromising] safety.

[Customers] often have plans that the architect or designer has drawn for them. When a homeowner is over budget on their remodel, we work with them to try and achieve the design features they want at an affordable price. Often times, we can redesign the layout of their enclosure to help save money, and still provide a heavy frameless enclosure that looks fantastic and functions professionally. Some customers will downsize to 3/8-inch glass to save on costs. When a designer calls for [low-iron], which is a great look but adds a great deal of cost, the more common clear glass can help the depleted budget.”



Michael Tryon, general manager, Bendheim Wall Systems Inc. 

“Glass products, such as channel glass, are often VE targets due to their higher cost in materials and/or labor, even though they may have been chosen specifically for their high-design impact.

In the best scenarios, the architect will involve us early, so we can advise them on the most effective and efficient design of channel glass, while still maintaining their design intent. On the materials side, considerations affecting the cost include: the choice of textures; low-iron content versus standard production glass; how [the architects] address thermal performance; or using lower-cost annealed glass rather than tempered glass.

A common design consideration involves raising the glass on knee walls rather than going full-to-the-floor to maximize the use of annealed glass. In other cases, cost savings may be achieved by using a single 20-foot-tall glass wall section rather than stacking two 10-foot-tall sections. In some applications, a distinct price advantage for channel glass may be realized through designing the glass horizontally rather than vertically to affect the proportion of annealed to tempered glass in the openings.

We can assist the architect with budget pricing throughout the various design phases to ensure changes aren't negatively affecting the prices. When we can get a local glazier involved in the process, their practical input on issues affecting assembly and the associated labor costs can be invaluable.