I came across Duane Craig’s thoughts on exterior finish trends and noticed he’s emphasizing something unique happening within construction projects that aim to be on the cutting-edge.
Standard finishes and materials in exteriors are a thing of the past. Craig highlights that all throughout the US, a trend of all custom finishes in exteriors has become the new, interesting benchmark. In this particular Construction Informer piece, the thoughts of Geoffrey Hahn, a creative director of an international metal studio, Pure + FreeForm, were tied in. With their wide-spanning geographical presence, Hahn’s perspective is influenced by some pretty broad roots.
I couldn’t help but want to stretch these thoughts further and try to recognize what the challenges of these installations could be. One view Craig presented is the lack of qualified contractors who are able to lend the time investment required for these complex requests.
The following are some of the additional areas I imagine would be problematic, but manageable with the right resources in place.
High value materials accessible externally can be trouble.
The use of high value materials in an exterior setting can set up a GM for damage by vandals or theft of valuable tools. First Research, a division of Hoover’s, highlights that “Theft of construction equipment and supplies is costly for builders. High prices for construction materials, such as lumber, copper wire, and metals, as well as fuel, have led to increased theft from construction sites. Builders that buy additional supplies due to theft may pay higher replacement costs, cutting into profits.”
Many construction managers who seek to mitigate risk in heavily populated areas have chosen to install surveillance tools and alert systems to prevent interruptions or losses. The integration of fences and strategic supply deliveries timed with supervision are a few ways to prevent any high value material theft.
If sought, millwork can be one of the most expensive mistakes if improperly designed.
According to the AIA, “Carefully used, architectural millwork can be a primary tool to communicate design intent and produce the atmosphere that the designer is seeking to achieve. At the same time, the potential exists for millwork to become a bland but expensive disappointment. Worse yet, if millwork is not properly designed and constructed it can lead to expensive errors which diminish function or even damage the millwork or other surfaces.”
A good rule of thumb is set by the AWI (Architectural Woodwork Institute) for the quality standards of millwork—it is a wise choice to first clarify and confirm compliance with this code before jumping into a project, no matter how aggressive timeline may be. In addition, properly specifying veneers is a must.
Shifts in costs within high-end finish projects can add unanticipated challenges.
First Research also adds that, “The price of lumber can change 30 percent within six months, and land prices, the major cost of construction in some markets, can also change rapidly. Sometimes builders can pass higher labor and material prices to clients; however, when prices rise quickly, some builders, especially smaller ones with less leverage, can get caught with the costs between the time they agree on a price for a project and the time they finish.”
Look ahead using historical data to understand a likely inflation/deflation. Maintain communication so all parties involved in the construction process are on the same page, and don’t have to feel the weight of a cost oversight. With the understanding of other players’ needs, all those involved should be engaged in open and frequent communication to remain aligned on goals and next steps—minimizing risk and unforeseen hiccups.