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    Details and Practice

    Published: Jan 2009

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    HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HEARD PEOPLE IN the construction industry say, “The Devil is in the Details”? Details are far more important than just conveying the aesthetic of a building design. Estimators use the documents and their details to establish budgets. Contractors produce bids and schedules based on how they perceive the details can be constructed and coordinated for completion of the project. Subcontractors submit bids based on the scope of work they would under take to complete the details. Why is it then, that universities and technical schools have given their students little or no formal training in how to develop details? Even if they do provide such courses, these courses rarely present constructability reviews of the details presented so the student enters the work force with a false perspective on how details are executed on sites. Individuals in these institutions are instructed in how to draw with the computer, but not what to draw and how it relates to the finished performance of the finished system. The Internet may provide information on particular systems or products, but the details often do not show how the individual products should be detailed in the context of the variety of building designs that are now present. Many in the design community fail to realize the limitations imposed by the contractor's capabilities and that of the products they install. Design details and documents for the building enclosure have been the most visible area of construction where a lack of workable details has led to building failures and law-suits over the past years. Failures of cladding components to perform have occurred in many cities throughout North America. Leaking walls and windows in house construction in Carolina, and the leaking condos in Vancouver, and the issues of mold in new building construction are just a few that have been in the news. Details can indicate the use of materials which are specified incorrectly or materials chosen for an inappropriate use. Weaknesses in material selection can be further compounded by a lack of understanding of construction sequence, material tolerances, building movements, material compatibility, and buildability problems. When the details presented overlook some or all of these issues, the failures may not be catastrophic or instantaneous, but the expected performance life for the owner can be significantly reduced.

    Author Information:

    Baker, Peter
    Building Science Engineering Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta

    Makepeace, Chris
    Building Science Engineering Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta

    Committee/Subcommittee: E06.22

    DOI: 10.1520/MNL11555M