Thursday, December 11, 2014

Workmanship and Quality in MasterSpec

Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP
MasterSpec Engineering Specification Writer

I discussed the general use of workmanship and quality on the Understanding Specifications, Codes and Standards blog on While that blog post was written for a broad audience that may or may not include MasterSpec customers, the principles and rules regarding the use of the two terms are followed throughout MasterSpec. Here is a more detailed discussion of those two concepts.

To recap, workmanship must be linked to specific and measureable qualities. You should avoid general statements that introduce ambiguity or subjectivity, such as "good workmanship," unless you use it to establish a level of quality. When qualifiers such as good are used, they must be applied carefully and should be defined in the specifications. Defining qualifiers can be done in several places in the specifications, such as using standards and codes as established benchmarks; requiring a certain level of qualifications for the trades, manufacturers, and installers involved in the project work; and establishing acceptable tolerances of the finished work.

Quality is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as "an inherent or distinguishing characteristic; a property," which is adequate for construction. However, much like workmanship, quality should not be used on its own and needs to be defined when used as a qualifier. A certain quality of construction is reached by qualifying (defined as "to describe by enumerating the characteristics of or qualities of") the tolerances, finish, operation, or build characteristics of the product. The concept of good, better, and best as they relate to increased tolerance is an example of how the specifier must qualify the quality of construction with measurable standards. Of course, just specifying one level of quality is not enough – that level should be defined, and the manufacturer must offer the product in the varying levels of quality. The same applies to labor.

Where the discussion gets quite interesting is when quality and workmanship become intertwined. There are two scenarios where this can happen. The first is when the quality of the installation is governed by the workmanship of the installer. An example is the wiring of a panelboard by an electrician. An electrician is required to do the installation, which is an implicit specification of a certain level of workmanship. The second scenario is when the quality of the materials governs the level of workmanship. Going back to the example of a panelboard, the requirement to use solid and stiff copper conductors for certain size conductors allows for a much neater installation than if braided and flexible copper conductors are specified.

In some cases, the quality of the workmanship also governs the quality of the materials used. In the example above, it is typically reasonable to assume that requiring an electrician to install and wire the panelboard will result in the use of solid copper wires and a neat installation. However, in order to get exactly what the engineer wants, it is best to specify solid copper for certain wire sizes.

Referencing trade association standards is an example of establishing a level of workmanship, and one that saves the specifier a significant amount of time. For electrical work, the National Electrical Contractors Association's National Electrical Installation Standard NECA 1-2010, "Standard Practice of Good Workmanship in Electrical Construction," is referenced in Article 110.12 of the National Electrical Code and the applicable MasterSpec electrical sections. NECA 1 defines "neat and workmanlike manner," and if the standard is referenced in the specification, it may be used as a general term in certain conditions.

Once the specifier has defined the level of workmanship and the quality of the product's construction, the terms workmanship and quality are intertwined. Be careful with their use and realize their limitations.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Difference between Warranty and Guarantee

Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT
MasterSpec Engineering Specification Writer

Warranty and guarantee sound similar and share a common root, but they can mean completely different things. This is where the subtle differences in language stand out and knowledge of the standard contract documents and "front end" specifications becomes important. As an example, consider a building envelope system that comes with a manufacturer's warranty and a contractor's guarantee.

The definition of warranty from Black's Law Dictionary is "an assurance, promise, or guaranty by one party that a particular statement of fact is true and may be relied upon by the other party." The legal definition of guarantee in noun form is "an undertaking or promise that is collateral to the primary or principal obligation and that binds the guarantor to performance in the event of nonperformance by the principal obligator." In plain language, this means that if the building envelope system does not work as promised, liability for the warranty transfers to the guarantor who, in this example, is the contractor or installer.

The American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Document A201, which outlines the standard contract between an owner and contractor, has a very broad warranty statement under Article 3.5 "Warranty." This article requires the contractor to warranty in the contract documents that the materials and workmanship meet the minimum levels of quality, and it protects the contractor against claims resulting from normal use or wear and tear. This article also requires that the contractor warranty the materials and work and establishes the legal obligations of the contractor, but leaves specifying the individual warranties or determination of failure to the contract documents.

Another important article in AIA A201 is Article 12.2, "Correction of Work." In addition to any warranties on the project, this article stipulates a one-year correction period, starting after substantial completion and running concurrently with any project warranties, during which the contractor must replace or fix any defective work. Again, it is up to the contract documents to determine how to judge if a product or work has failed or is defective.

Now let's take a look at Paragraph 1.7 "Product Warranties" in MasterSpec Section 016000, one of the Division 01 documents that establishes procedures used to ensure compliance with and proper selection of products described in product specification sections. The first paragraph in "Product Warranties" is a general statement that warranties specified in sections are in addition to and concurrent with any warranties required to be in the project. This paragraph also states that the contractor is bound by the contract documents, regardless of any manufacturer claims. Essentially, this paragraph builds off AIA A201 (remember that AIA A201 established the relationship between the contractor and owner with respect to warranties) and defines the scope of the warranty.

Under this paragraph in Section 016000 are two paragraphs that define the "Manufacturer's Warranty" and "Special Warranty." The manufacturer's warranty requires a standard, written warranty from the manufacturer. The special warranty is used when the contract documents have specific warranty requirements, such as a ten-year warranty for the building envelope system. When special warranties are required, there is a separate paragraph that sets the requirements for the format of the warranty submittal. Finally, there is a paragraph in Section 016000 that specifies when to provide the warranty information to the owner. These paragraphs continue to build off the broad statement of warranty in AIA A201 and define what the warranty will be and the physical form that the warranty will take.

In an individual specification, there will be a general statement of warranty for either a "Manufacturer's Warranty" or a "Special Warranty." Any warranty requirements inserted into these paragraphs should be coordinated with the contract, if possible, as they could potentially override the requirements of the contract if, for instance, a six-month warranty is specified instead of a general "Manufacturer's Warranty" submittal, which would be required to fall under the minimum one-year correction period. If there are special requirements, such as a 10-year warranty for the building envelope system, this is the appropriate place to mention those requirements and what would trigger a warrantied visit from the contractor.

Despite its use in legal literature, generally it is good practice to avoid the use of guarantee and instead exclusively and consistently use warranty or warranty period throughout your specifications. It is also good practice to not specify a warranty period for each product or specification (unless specifying a minimum warranty term) as doing so may limit the rights of the owner, such as reducing the amount of warranty coverage available. But if you choose to do so, be careful that you don't conflict with the contract and supplementary conditions.

Going back to the example of the building envelope system, we see that the manufacturer has a warranty for the material when properly installed. The contractor provides a warranty for the workmanship involved in installing the materials and a third party guarantee for the materials. Whatever warranty exists, keep in mind that it is separate from the one-year correction period, during which time the contractor is obliged to correct any deficiencies regardless of warranty.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Specify Paint: Part 2

Joseph Berchenko, AIA, CSI, CCS
Director of MasterSpec Specifications

This blog post is a continuation of How to Specify Paint: Part 1

Part 2 – Products

Part 2 begins with the Manufacturers article, which lists manufacturers that can fulfill project needs. The Master Painters Institute (MPI) Approved Products List includes many manufacturers, so even if you specify paint products by MPI numbers in the schedule at the end of Part 3, you still might want to include this article to limit bidding to selected manufacturers. By listing these manufacturers, bidders still have freedom to select multiple products within each list and products will come from manufacturers who meet your requirements.
Another article in Part 2 is Paints, General. This article provides requirements that apply to all paint materials on the job. It might include the following paragraphs:
  • MPI Standards – if you're using MPI standards and the MPI Approved Products List, state that here
  • Material Compatibility – here you can explicitly require that materials must be compatible with substrates and one another
  • Colors – here you can reference a color schedule on the drawings rather than providing the schedule, and you can also indicate the general cost range expected if colors have not been fully selected by the time the documents are released
  • VOC Content – provides specific numerical requirements for volatile organic compound (VOC) content based on the sustainability rating system used
  • Low-Emitting Materials – includes requirement that materials are tested according to California Department of Public Health (CDPH)'s "Standard Method for the Testing and Evaluation of Volatile Organic Chemical Emissions from Indoor Sources Using Environmental Chambers"

VOC content is measured by taking the paint's wet volume and subtracting the water content. It is important to note that this measurement doesn't take into account the spreading rate of the paint, the number of coats required for coverage, or the paint's service life. However, using the test method outlined by CDPH provides a more accurate measurement of the deleterious effects that paint has on indoor air quality than does VOC content. VOC content measures the contribution to smog creation, thus exempting certain noxious VOCs from calculation because they don't contribute to smog, although they may affect the well-being of building occupants. But less paint and less frequent repainting can help lower VOC emissions over the life of the building.

Part 3 – Execution

This part begins with the Examination article, which lets the specifier spell out moisture content and other substrate requirements prior to the start of paint application. Here you can also define quantifiable measures that painters and field inspectors can verify.

The Preparation article covers a miscellany of preparatory requirements such as removing hardware and cover plates and cleaning surfaces. The Society for Protective Coatings field preparation methods may be included for steel that is not shop-primed.

Rather than providing a lengthy description of methods and techniques, the Application article instructs readers to apply paint systems in compliance with manufacturer's written instructions and the MPI Architectural Painting Specification Manual. Use this article to help prevent potential disagreements in the field by making explicit requirements, even though some might seem obvious; describe good practice techniques to ensure superior quality, such as coat tinting to help identify that the proper number of undercoats have been applied; and list mechanical, electrical, and piping components and equipment that should or should not be painted.

Also in Part 3, the Interior Painting Schedule lists specific substrates and MPI numbers for each coat and takes up the bulk of an unedited specification. You must cull the number of substrates and systems to match those on the project. If you choose not to use MPI numbers, there is an insert option provided.

MPI and ARCOM are jointly developing a web-based specification tool to allow specifiers to select appropriate paints and paint systems for common building surfaces and to simplify editing by producing a detailed schedule that seamlessly transfers to MasterSpec sections. (For more on this tool, read this blog post.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Specify Paint: Part 1

Joseph Berchenko, AIA, CSI, CCS
Director of MasterSpec Specifications

Specifying paint can be difficult, but this is a faster and more cost-effective process when the specifications are prepared by editing prewritten text rather than writing them from scratch. Specifiers can use MasterSpec Section 099123 "Interior Painting" as a basis for their paint specification, which is designed for use with Master Painters Institute Approved Products List.

As you probably know, the Construction Specification Institute's SectionFormat establishes a standard, which MasterSpec follows, for presenting requirements within sections. MasterSpec organizes each section into three parts:
  • Part 1 – General: Contains administrative and procedural requirements unique to the section
  • Part 2 – Products:  Details assemblies, products, and materials to be incorporated into the project
  • Part 3 – Execution: Outlines installation of assemblies, products, and materials, including preparation, installation, cleaning, and protection; sometimes concludes with a schedule, which is a concise list of products and their locations within a project
For paint specifications, specifiers often start with the Schedule in Part 3, then edit Part 2, and then finish with Part 1 and the rest of Part 3. We'll save the discussion on Parts 2 and 3 for next time. For now, we will focus on Part 1 – General.

Part 1 – General

One of the first articles of Part 1 is the Summary. As the specifier, you should provide a general, succinct list—not an all-inclusive list—of painted substrates so reader can quickly assess the section's content; include the Related Requirements paragraph, which cross-references other sections that contain requirements readers might expect to find in this section but are specified elsewhere; and only list sections requiring reference or coordination, such as those specifying shop-priming of products that are later field-finished.

Another article included in Part 1 is the Definitions article, where you can define terms unique to the section and that aren't defined elsewhere. It can also be used to define gloss levels, for instance, because they vary from one manufacturer to the next.

In the Action Submittals article, you should include written and graphic information and physical samples that require the architect to review and then respond to the contractor (unlike Informational Submittals, which do not need to be returned to the contractor). Examples of action submittals include:
  • Product Data – may include data sheets or other standardized information specific to each product
  • Sustainability Submittals – may include data indicating volatile organic compound content or lab test reports
  • Samples – may include color charts if colors and other characteristics have not been preselected
  • Product List – requires submission of a contractor-prepared schedule of paint products and systems indicating locations and colors

The Maintenance Materials Submittals article allows you to require a specified amount of paint to be packaged, labeled, and set aside for the owner's later use to avoid the difficulty that can come with matching paint colors.

Part 1 also includes the Quality Assurance article, which is on-site quality control activity prior to construction, not to be confused with source quality control, which occurs at the factory during manufacture, and field quality control, which occurs at the site during construction. In this article, you can require mockups, or the painting of a test surface, to demonstrate aesthetic effects and set a quality standard for the remainder of the job. Mockups are a good idea when aesthetics are a concern, but don't use mockups as backdoor approvals; properly document any changes to the colors or paint system materials (using, for instance, Change Orders or Construction Change Directives).
The Delivery, Storage, and Handling article requires that paint is stored at not less than 45 degrees F (or 7 degrees C) and that waste is removed daily. If necessary, you can insert special requirements for fire protection, heating, ventilation, and other conditions for on-site storage areas.
Another article you can use in Part 1 is Field Conditions, in which you can specify surface and ambient air temperatures and relative humidity critical for proper application of paint. By defining these parameters in the specification, you alert painters to the range of conditions necessary for work to proceed and also give field inspectors clear, precise guidelines for rejection of work.

For information on MasterSpec sections' Parts 2 and 3, look out for the following blog post.