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Brett M. Wilbur
Senior Member
Username: brett

Post Number: 9
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 03:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

What is your experience with “free” hardware specifiers?

They have been a valuable time and cost saving convenience for us, since they have the knowledge, skills and technique to produce them quickly and with minimum booboo’s. However, are they really providing free services when they are able to specify the products and manufacturers they represent? I hear rumor that some may actually be charging fees to the Owner and specifying their own products. Seems like double-dipping. Some, I hear actually fabricate some of their own hardware.

Other than writing them ourselves, which I’m not necessarily against doing, any other options out there?
John Bunzick, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: bunzick

Post Number: 310
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 04:10 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Some distributors in my area (Boston) will write "free" specs, and some charge a modest amount. Both claim that they will list three equal products, which they generally will do, but you need to watch very closely which brands are listed and know something about availability. I have sometimes asked competing distributors to comment on these specs as a way to ferret out some hard-to-equal provisions. One mild criticism I have about this source of specs is that they are written for hardware distributors, not architects or contractors. By this I mean that they use model numbers as the basis, without the functional/descriptive language that an architect or other "lay" person needs to understand them. (At least without doing a whole lot of research.) Of course, the hardware suppliers bidding the project have no difficulty with this. Make sure that the specifier includes a good package of product data, essentially like a submittal, so you can interpret them properly.
William C. Pegues, FCSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: wpegues

Post Number: 327
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 04:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Here we only write our own. It depends on how much control you want to have over the functioning of the door, as well as the hardware itself, there are things that I want to select and not leave to someone else. I have found that most hardware schedules written by others dealt with things more holistically rather than looking at each door individually. This in turn makes it harder to check the door unless you actually know considerable about hardware - and its not appropriate for this outside writer to do a review since he will either be the supplier at that point, or will be a competitor of the supplier - both making for potential conflicts of interest.

I know it works for a lot of people to do it that way, I just prefer not to and to take care of it internally.

It also gives us the luxury of doing it very late in the process - typically it is done somewhere in the last 8 to 10 days before the project goes out the door. So drawings are very currrent, and issues of moving doors about have been taken care of. I think that gives us a better product overall, and not having to respond to someone elses schedules when the plans you give them you know that some doors will be moving.

Ronald L. Geren, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA
Senior Member
Username: specman

Post Number: 81
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 04:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I almost always insist that the design team utilize an AHC for the hardware. And when I do, I always point them in the direction of those that are CSI members.

Be that as it may, most specifications I get from these consultants are fair at best. I typically take the hardware sets and product cut sheets they provide and edit my own master to suit.

I have yet to be charged for any of these services, and none have complained when we've requested products that they don't represent.

Ultimately, it is the architect who's responsible for the hardware, even if provided by a "consultant," so a good understanding of door hardware by the specifier is essential.
John McGrann
Senior Member
Username: jmcgrann

Post Number: 42
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 04:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I concur with William, and that is our practice as well. Our projects usually move much too quickly to pull in a hardware consultant and I prefer to keep this task in-house to facilitate the last minute coordination.

Now if I could just get locked down floor plans 8 to 10 days before the deadline <g>.
William C. Pegues, FCSI, CCS
Senior Member
Username: wpegues

Post Number: 330
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, January 14, 2005 - 04:58 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Well, you can never get truly locked down floor plans, but what you can do is make the comment, "Any changes are addendum number 1".


J. Peter Jordan
Senior Member
Username: jpjordan

Post Number: 31
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 - 10:29 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I have done my own hardware schedules before (I still do the hardware specification section), but I have found that even some of our more modest projects have complicated security and code requirements that go beyond my scope of knowledge. Then there are the schools; I am not sure I could get all the hardware and security coordinated for one of those in the 8 to 10 days before the end of the project with all the other stuff that needs to be done. I have also worked on a federal courthouse--you need a detention specialist, a hardware specialist, and a security consultant just to make sense of what is required let alone get it specified.

In our area, we have several good AHC people who work for the manufacturer, not a local distributor. While I do not have any problem with them writing around their products in many cases, I also have not had too much difficulty getting them to write for the Owner's requirements. I do like to check what they have done in some detail, but often find this difficult just before a job goes out the door.

I do know of an instance in a nearby city where a widely respected hardware consultant is an employee of a distributor. They began charging for his services 5 or 6 years ago. It's a fair charge, but I am not sure how far it goes toward ensuring "professional objectivity and distance."

Years ago in another city, I used a distributor's hardware consultant on a regular basis. He was very good at keeping us out of trouble, and while I knew he had the edge on other subbidders, I thought this was fair considering the value we received (he did still have to competitively bid on most of our projects which were federal govt). We had a nice project he did the schedule on; was a 12-story, hotel-type facility for NAVFAC. However, there was not an electrical closet on every floor (about 4 spread through the building's floors). He got beat out by the cost of the extra hardware he put in for electrical closet doors on every floor. Familiarity with the project does not guarantee a getting it right!
Julie Root
Intermediate Member
Username: julie_root

Post Number: 4
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Monday, January 17, 2005 - 11:26 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

We have had the good, bad, and really ugly experience with AHC. I have found the ugly comes when you have junior architectural staff in charge of the door schedule. They and many architects do not know what the bits and pieces do and look like (I know I am constantly learning)so it is hard to ask a AHC the right questions or provide them with information when design changes. We have also had a problem lately with AHC (those who do not charge a fee) specifying thresholds. I have had a couple of reps tell us that 'architects change their mind to often on finish materials so we have had to leave the thresholds to the architect'. I understand the point as decisions usually are made late in the game, but architects do not generally know the ins and outs of thresholds and how they relate to lock sets, etc.

Has anyone come across a good reference for hardware? or have seen a good lunchtime presentation on hardware? I am on a mission to put together a presentation for my office.
Ralph Liebing
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 129
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - 07:14 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

Ms. Root-- I have a rather crude handout for a sesssion one of my colleagues did on hardware-- basically an orientation [what is this? Why do you need that?] course. Only have a hard copy but will share. Also, we had a very good session from a rep for Ingersoll-Rand [IR] which ia grouping of hardware companies they have bought up recently. Good information, particularly on the security aspects [which is a whole session in itself]
John McGrann
Senior Member
Username: jmcgrann

Post Number: 43
Registered: 03-2002
Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - 08:19 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

I second Ralph’s comment regarding the IR Safety and Security learning sessions. They offered their program three years ago in our area covering fire door hardware, codes & door hardware, and access control. It was well worth the half-day of time.

Several years ago I put together an in-house lunch-and-learn PowerPoint presentation regarding standard types of hardware for our staff. It was more to do with the basics of various types of hardware (primarily identification of hardware types) and various code issues that always seem to trip up our particular group. I need to update it to the IBC and correct some things based on recent code interpretations and give it again before too long. I'll probably break it up into two or more sessions as there were a lot of dazed looks in the room last time around. Let me know if you want it and I'll e-mail it to you.

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