Up Front: Fall Forward
Association executives around the country have been scrambling to bring you interesting, relevant and timely chapter meetings. I have been doing this for years and sometimes we hit the mark and sometimes we miss. In the never-ending attempt to find interesting topics and speakers, we try to be observant of what is going on, what our members need and should be hearing about. We also rely on our members for feedback on what they would like to hear about or concerns that may have an impact today on your business. By the time you read this, all the member meetings and speakers have probably been arranged for your local association. If you have an idea for a speaker or topic, let your local association know-they will be happy to arrange it and I know they will appreciate your interest and the suggestion.
Early fall is typically very nice all around the country. It can be so pleasant that it lulls us into a false sense that winter won’t be so bad this year. However, we should be thinking about the impending colder and wetter weather that is fast approaching and about the adjustments our supervisors need to make. For example, most of our clients think that installing and finishing drywall is the same job all year long. After all, the work is indoors year round. What’s the difference when you’re inside? Experienced tapers know there is a difference. The warm fall days followed by near-freezing nights can cause all kinds of problems for drywall finishers. Problems can range from nail pops, delayed shrinkage and joint cracking to joint ridging. The taper will surely be blamed-after all it didn’t happen in the last few months or on the last job. So it must be his fault! How could warm days and cold nights affect indoor joint taping or plastering?
Prepare for the Chill
When the weather changes, problems can start suddenly and at almost an epidemic rate. All materials expand and contract at different rates as they are exposed to temperature changes-some a lot, some a little-but the fact remains they all grow and shrink to some degree. What can be done? We can’t change the weather.
First, educate your crew. Be the Paul Revere of your shop and warn the locals that the colder weather is coming. Review standards, follow ASTM and other industry guidelines for guidance. When a general contractor or owner fails to assist you or dismisses your requests, send him a clear, concise, but friendly letter advising him of the standards recommended by the local trade association or bureau. Don’t wait until the first weather-related problems appear and the finger pointing starts. Get a jump on the problem and make your employees aware.
Stucco and EIFS installers have issues too. In cold regions of the country, snow may be just around the corner and you should be prepared to inform the general contractor that tenting and heating may be the best recommended practice. Fall is always the tough season, as walls could be well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit at mid-afternoon and then drop below freezing just 12 hours later. This 60-degree temperature swing in less than 12 hours is powerful and something all parties involved should be aware of. Again, it’s best to talk to your crews in advance and not wait until you wake up to two feet of snow in the morning.
The general contractor says it is the drywall subcontractor’s responsibility to tent, heat and provide the proper environment. Is it really? Do you control the weather? While the general contractor does not have control over the weather either, he does control the project and other trades. He can direct other subcontractors to close doors, keep tenting in place and back-charge violators; you have no such authority or control over other trades. In addition, who “benefits” from the accelerated schedule? The owner does, they want the project completed fast because they’ll benefit the most from early completion. It stands to reason they should bear the cost of tenting and heating in cold weather. Wall and ceiling contractors can provide language in their bids covering tenting and heating. Don’t be caught with your pants down, plan ahead. After all, fall means old man winter is not far away.