The Specifier and The Big Bad Wolf

In the children's story of "The Big Bad Wolf", he huffs and puffs and blows each house down, except for the brick house. The other houses were built of other materials which were destroyed. However, what if the little pigs worked with a specifier before they built their homes, so that each material and system could be evaluated to make sure it could withstand the wind force? Is a heavy material really the best option in high wind environments?

What do you picture in your mind when I say "a roof system in the Caribbean Islands"? Esthetics? Performance? Material? Assembly? In that particular environment, performance is a critical part in the evaluation and selection of material and assembly. Recently I was contacted by an architect client to discuss roof systems appropriate for a structure on St. Lucia.  This is a design-build project in the conceptual stage, so now is the perfect time to take a look at available alternatives for major systems and assemblies that impact not only the performance but the budget as well.  

Hurricane image-1

The goal is to look at two completely different systems - one recommended by the architect, the other recommended by the contractor. The architect is designing a roof made of steel. The contractor is recommending the roof to be concrete. The architect is recommending insulation. The contractor is recommending no insulation. Which is the best solution? We need to take a look at it from the performance perspective. Performance specifying, one of the four basic methods of specifying products in conventional construction specifications, is ideal in analyzing these two systems.  The information is organized in UniFormat – which lays out the descriptions as functional elements. In this case, the element is the roof system.  This allows the project team to quickly define, analyze and price both systems side by side in order to learn which is the better option for the environment, code compliance, and the building owner.  

I provided the client a System and Performance Description for each roof system that defined the performance and system components neatly outlined in UniFormat. The architect and contractor now have the ability to look at the designs, costs, and constructability hand in hand to make an informed decision—before drawing.  Take a deeper dive into how to design with UniFormat in this blog:

Yes, this format can design against the Big Bad Wolf winds of the Caribbean, as well as other unique and not-so-unique challenges projects face every single day. Stay tuned for the outcome of which system is selected for this project.

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