By Tom Byron, Technical Sales Representative at RedBuilt™ [caption id="attachment_448" align="alignleft" width="71"] Tom Byron, Technical Sales Representative at RedBuilt[/caption] Why use RedBuilt™ products and services? This question is asked everyday by a variety of design professionals, contractors, property owners, and building department officials. This two part series will help explain the benefits of using RedBuilt engineered wood products. Part one is aimed at the design professionals and building departments. These individuals understand that commercial buildings are inherently different from residential buildings and must be designed and built to guarantee public safety. Part two will focus on how using RedBuilt products benefits contractors and building owners. The construction business has been going through some major shifts in types of buildings being constructed; an example would be the now popular mixed use buildings. Mixed use buildings require a thorough understanding of building code requirements as a result of the combination of different uses, fire rating requirements, etc. The turbulent times of the past few years have resulted in many building component manufacturers and construction firms either going out of business or drastically reducing their size. Due to the scarcity of projects in this economy, many contractors and suppliers have started to bid projects outside of their areas of expertise as a means for survival. Unfortunately, they often times “win” these projects as a result of their inexperience. Invariably, this leads to challenges on the jobsite including attempts to mitigate costs by substituting products, changing details during construction, etc.. so how can you ensure a building is built to perform the way it was designed? How do architects, engineers and building departments protect themselves and the general public? It’s Simple: Specify RedBuilt products and services and hold to your specification. As the industry leader in the commercial engineered wood products business, RedBuilt has been setting the industry standard since our founders first developed the Red Open-Web trusses, I-joists (Red-I™ I-joists), and laminated veneer lumber (RedLam™ LVL). Not only do we have the largest selection of engineered wood products to meet the needs of the commercial construction industry, but we also provide more engineering and technical assistance than any other company in the business. So how does this help the AOR, EOR and Building Departments? The most important advantage in specifying and insisting on the use of RedBuilt products is safety. RedBuilt is a company built on safety, service, and engineering. We take the word “engineered” so seriously that we employ over ten professional licensed engineers in varying roles from production engineering, corporate engineering, operations, and marketing. In addition to working to ensure our products are used properly in your buildings, their duties also include product quality assurance at our four manufacturing plants, product testing, code approvals, training, and new product development. We have five RedBuilt Design Centers (shop drawing department) strategically located at our manufacturing facilities and corporate headquarters. Each Design Center is directed by a licensed professional engineer. When required, our engineers review, approve and seal shop drawings as well as RedBuilt product load calculations. Since they are employees of RedBuilt, you know they have laser focus and understanding of our products and are incredible resources for solving, and perhaps more importantly, preventing issues on the jobsite. Engaging our technical representatives during the design phase to optimize systems and requiring shop drawings to be reviewed and sealed by a professional engineer employed by the manufacturer allows AOR and EOR to focus on overall building envelope design and load development. Building Inspectors know that if RedBuilt products are supplied, the actual manufacturer is checking the design to make certain their products are being used in the correct application. RedBuilt will provide free design assistance by our Technical Sales Representatives. We will visit your office at any time to help with a design or provide a lunch and learn training session to refresh your knowledge of our products. You can also use our on-line design manual and software at http://www.redbuilt.com/ or speak directly with our engineers. Technical Representatives are also a resource for jobsite support. We can stop by each jobsite to answer any questions the contractor may have. During this visit, the RedBuilt representative will walk the jobsite and review the installation of RedBuilt products. You, as a design professional, can have in your specification a requirement for the manufacturer to do this review. This piece-of-mind is a primary reason National Account Chains require RedBuilt to be used on their projects. So, what do other manufacturers and suppliers do? Most other manufacturers do not employ licensed professional engineers to review shop drawings, designs, or how a product substitution will perform. Instead, they rely on brokers and lumberyard sales people to redesign your projects. Since these manufacturers have smaller product lines than RedBuilt, and products that, in many cases, do not meet or exceed the specified products, they will need to make substantial changes to find a solution that “works.” They may substitute lesser products, increase depth or change on center-spacing to get a product that they think will work. They then expect the EOR/AOR to approve their solution with little understanding of why the original solution was used. This causes delays and additional check time for the AOR/EOR. If a broker is supplying material, that’s all they’ll do, supply material. They cut costs by eliminating seals on shop drawings. Instead, they simply do a layout plan on top of the EOR’s structural drawings and pay to have the calculations stamped, which typically means that the output, based on input by others, is correct…not very reassuring. It doesn’t mean that the data was checked or any of the connection details were checked. In other words the entire burden is on the EOR/AOR. Lumberyards attempt to convert the specified commercial products to a residential product line they carry. Often, residential products have different chord and web thickness, which raises a few questions: Does your nailing still work? Is the deflection still adequate? Does the end reaction require web stiffeners? We are now seeing a push by residential manufacturers to get their products specified on commercial projects. When there is a mix of residential and commercial products on a project, sales people feel they have more flexibility to make product substitutions. They try to replace the commercial products so they can sell the whole project. This means no shop drawings, no application validation, and no responsibility for what is being supplied. There are also many contractors who build custom homes or multifamily projects that think they can just substitute products as they wish. Since each lumberyard sells a different manufacturer’s product line and they have always swapped those out before, why not do the same on a commercial project? If there aren’t any shop drawings required then often the EOR doesn’t even know a project he designed is being built to different standards. Competitors will also swap out hardware without checking nailing requirements. RedBuilt uses Simpson hardware to ensure the connections work as detailed and we know Simpson keeps all code approvals up to date. So, what can you do? Seven Steps Architects, Engineers and Building Departments can take to ensure your intentions and designs are being followed and your buildings are safe.
- Require the manufacturer to have a professional engineer seal both the shop drawings and the calculations they submit.
- Require jobsite reviews and a verification letter by the product manufacturer.
- Require substituted products to be equal to or exceed specified products design properties.
- Require only commercial products on commercial buildings.
- Require compensation for the design professional for time spent reviewing product substitutions.
- Require professional engineer sealed shop drawings and load calculations for the “as built” drawings to be submitted to building departments.
- Specify RedBuilt. The only company manufacturing for over 50 years in the Engineered Wood Business.
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