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Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1259
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 10:08 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post

by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Cincinnati, OH

The three binders lay side-by side on the plan desk. One is about ½” thick, the other 2 each about 2-2-1/2” thick. Combined they represent “ a project”. A project I am to build.

I am a General Contractor—not big in terms of employees or in types of projects done. I try to be affable, understanding, and in alignment with the owner to whom I am contracted, and to the design personnel the owner has “given” me. Also, of course, I value and solicit the best from my friends, the sub-contractors— those who do the real and final work.

I have my own crews, and I try to keep them employed and busy on a continuing basis— that’s tough! I have tried to gather a cadre of skilled and talented people, with good experience, and yes, with a strain of the old school—dedication to their work and pride in what they do. Often finding such people is the toughest thing of all.

My brother is a manufacturer’s rep who represents some very fine manufacturers of about 50 products. He runs a clean operation-- good products, good service to all and good people with reliable, trustworthy and good information. We share perspectives on how we choose to work and run our businesses. And our view of the other parties in the projects we work.

To the project [in the binders].

They just arrived and I have not had time to really start to get into them, but I have an impressions already. A clearly printed, direct text on the covers gives the name of the project, the owner, the design professionals, and other pertinent information. I immediately know, in general what this is all about and the people I will be working for and with. [Not like some web sites where jazzy graphics obscure the “meat” of the message and surprises the needed information].

I know the design professional’s office that produced this project. And that has real meaning to me. I have worked for them twice before, and we worked well. But many times I see documents and projects that are completely unknown to me. These are a flat out “crap-shoot”, where I can make money perhaps [I am unashamed about trying to make a profit!} or where I might wind up in court or in other bad situations.

What I like about the design firm is that they are tough— not nasty or pushy, but simply strong and businesslike. They mean what they say— and the proverbial say what they mean. They enforce their documents, and they take the heat where they make an error, never trying to maneuver errors to make them look like I was responsible. We have disagreements, but are never disagreeable—things get talked out and worked out.

But their projects appear daunting— three binders of specs!! Wow!, what are we getting into now? Why three binders? Are things so bad, complex, or messy on this project that 3 books are required to keep it straight or to get it right?

My brother has been a God-sent in helping me to understand this situation a little better. Not just this project, but really all projects. He and many of his staff are members of CSI, the Construction Specifications Institute. They all understand the work of CSI in creating a reasonable and consistent format for the display and transfer of information.

I have see the disarray of projects where the CSI format was not used. I spent more time trying to understand the system and find information, only to find it in it own disarray, and far short of what I needed. That is money out of my pocket—just trying to understand the project! Hey, not all of that is my job!

Come on! The quicker I can find what I need, the quicker I can order it; or resolve it. I do not have to engage in a scavenger hunt every time I need to find something to explain to one of my subs.

But back to the three binders. The small one is titled, “Administrative”. One large one is “Architectural”; the other is “Building Systems”. Well, I think we can do business here! Each binder contains, I assume [hate to use that word] the information associated with those general categories. So whatever situation I am involved with, I can find the correct binder—NOW! !

But still I get the impression that this project may be at the edge of my range of work—it may stretch me, and my company to get it done. But on the other hand, I like what I see so far, and that is comforting in that I can foresee good relationships, good attitudes, amiable conditions, good understanding, and reasonableness throughout.

Guess I’ll take the chance

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