Expert TIPS to avoid budget blowouts on your next project!
Measure twice and cut once as they say – this is especially true with glass!
The quality of subcontractors can make or break a project. For nearly 20 years I’ve been providing glass to the construction industry. In this time, I’ve experienced a multitude of budget blow out situations that were mostly avoidable. Many are the direct result of inexperience, time constraints or simply a lack of planning and attention to detail.
Time is money but time spent upfront is a wise investment and will certainly save you money.
Great subcontractors make a builder’s life easier. The construction process is full of moving parts. Builders don’t have the time nor do they want to micro manage their subbies.
So here’s my top 10 expert tips to reduce delays, defects, save you money and ultimately provide the quality compliant finish that our clients deserve.
1. Communication Next to quality, communication is the one thing that our clients have noted as the most valuable. There really should be more emphasis on teaching this to tradies. Ask any builder, tradie, client or your supply chain – it’s the source of all of our frustration and is almost a refreshing change when people get it right.
2. Engaging a licensed professional In NSW if the total installation and glass costs exceed $5,000 you must have a Glazing Contractor licence issued by the Department of Fair Trade. If you employ team, you also may need to have a licensed qualified trade supervisor.
For extra peace of mind opt for an Accredited Glazier with an industry body like AWGA, the Australian Glass and Window Association then you’ll know that the company has had their work independently assessed and accredited.
3. Compliance & Safety Is a huge deal in construction across all building sectors. Legally the instruments that govern glass in buildings range from the NCC, AS1288:2021, AS2208, AS1926, BAL’s…. the list goes on.
Glass must be fit for purpose and or meet deem to satisfy rules. This starts from the design phase through to the selection and installation methodology. Compliance also extends to site safety from inductions and various other safety qualifications like; Working at Heights or Elevated Work Platform licenses. Engaging an expert team that can be mobilised with the correct qualifications and compliance paperwork will avoid delays and most importantly keep everyone working safely.
Other costly oversights include replacing glass with a ‘like for like’ product to then find out it’s not compliant and having to start again. Knowing when to engage an engineer if the design brief falls outside the current AS1288:2021 only to find you can’t certify the job on completion.
4. Ordering toughened custom glass Providing glass sizes without having an expert checking the measurements can result in having to order glass again. Ensure you are not guessing opening sizes without proper consultation, especially if the product is not able to be modified like toughened and many custom engineered laminates.
5. Energy performance requirements This area of compliance is increasing with Basix, Nathers, Section J reports. Whilst most glaziers are not experts in this field, they should know the basics and have a network they can consult where needed. This critical glass or window system performance data is often not provided to glass companies at the design and quoting stage therefore resulting in variations or non-compliant glass which can prevent certification at the end of the job.
Aside from minimum energy performance requirements there needs to be greater emphasis on product education. There is an increasing appetite for consumers wanting to understand the value of good glazing in their home for their liveability factor, reduction of energy costs and overall environmental advantages that thermal glass can offer.
6. Speciality glass Energy efficient, decorative, acoustic – there is so much on offer. Architects and designers love to try new products, many of which are specified and ordered prior to the homeowner seeing the product. Would you order curtains without looking at them first?
A common example of this is the energy efficient / Low-E glass range. Many of these products are referred to as clear but they don’t always appear the same as clear glass.
It’s essential for the home or building owner to review and approve the glass before purchase. Being upfront about the aesthetics is equally as important as providing the performance and maintenance data. This applies to any non-clear glass, printed, acoustic glass and the like. Most reputable suppliers or manufacturers are happy to provide free samples.
7. Waterproofing Prior to glass installation does not just apply to bathrooms and wet areas. Best practise in this area may also apply to tiled areas where balustrading is being installed. The order and installation of materials should be managed carefully between trades.
The responsibility of waterproofing with flashing in applications such as overhead glazing, roof, awnings, and skylights should be identified in advance to meet compliance and the best outcome for the renovation or new build.
8. Access This is one of the most overlooked details and easiest to get right. On many occasions we have experienced situations where the glass is too big to fit through the space. Failure to properly check that glass can fit where it’s intended to be installed prior to walls and openings being finished is more common than you would think.
Checking the size of goods lifts and entries is another costly oversight as cranes are not cheap to hire. We also see safety issues arise in these circumstances as glaziers are asked to perform near impossible installs, they normally wouldn’t have had proper consultation occurred at the start of the project.
9. Removing a scaffold too early One word… communication! Sounds simple but a phone call can ensure the safety of the glazing or caulking team and ensure windows are sealed properly from the outside before the scaffold is removed.
10. Underestimating manufacturing lead times Don’t assume glass lead times. Over committing before checking with your glazing subcontractor is a common mistake.
Products like toughened, custom laminates, printed, curved glass and items with complex shapes and holes are very popular yet still many project managers and builders are not familiar with the multi-staged manufacturing process required.
So even greater emphasis should be put on engaging trusted experts with experience measuring custom glass products.
Measure twice and manufacture once!
To sum up a good subcontracting team is one that can foresee all these potential issues before they arise and communicate these to their client. This foresight comes from years of collective experiences both good and bad.
When these learnings form part of a company’s culture through systemisation, innovation and ongoing training and education – this is a recipe for a good subcontracting team.
Add strong accountability and work ethic and it becomes a GREAT subcontracting team.
A team capable of providing this level of service and peace of mind is priceless for a builder.