This month’s question comes from a student in a construction management program who is taking a class where they are learning how to write the "scope of work.” The student has been assigned the task of finding out about the potential problems that can occur when writing a scope of work for lightweight steel framing.
The original e-mail was sent to Don Allen of the Steel Framing Alliance who forwarded it to me for further comment since it is a question involving contract documents rather than structural engineering.
I don’t know if Allen will agree with me or not, but in my experience this is probably one of the easier items to scope out. This, of course, depends on the method used to write the original specification. The practice most commonly used by designers is to specify that the design of the cold formed steel framing system be produced by a professional engineer registered in the jurisdiction where the project is located. If this is the case, the bidding documents will not show a lot of detail either on the drawings or in the specifications.
What this means to you is that the professional engineer that you hire will be responsible for all the bits and pieces required to correctly buy out and build the cold formed steel portion of the project.
The professional engineer should be an individual or company that specializes in the design of cold formed steel framing. In contract language, this individual is called a specialty structural engineer. Because cold-formed steel framing requires a different approach than red iron steel construction, which is what the average structural engineer is familiar with, an SSE deals only with cold-formed steel framing and will be able to define and price out his design more accurately, thus not leave anything open to question.
As Allen pointed out, cold-formed steel framing is usually specified in Section 05 40 00, Cold-Formed Metal Framing, and is also sometimes referred to as exterior metal framing. Interior metal framing is specified in Section 09 22 16, Non-Structural Metal Framing. Do not get the two types confused. These two items of work are sometimes performed by different subcontractors.
The most important segment of cold-formed steel framing is the bracing, bridging and blocking required to ensure a properly built structure. An inexperienced individual may look at cold-formed steel framing and think it is just like wood framing only using cold-formed steel framing. This is not the case; cold-formed steel framing requires an in-depth knowledge of how the system performs under load, and it performs quite differently from wood.
You should also review the entire set of bidding documents to ensure that an item that is part of the cold-formed steel framing system or is dependent on the cold-formed steel framing system does not contain requirements affecting the bidding and installation of cold-formed steel framing. Remember that the building is a group of interdependent systems put together to perform the function of the building.
There are several standards governing the use of cold-formed steel framing that might be of assistance in understanding more about cold-formed steel framing: ASTM C955, C1007, C645, C754, and The American Iron and Steel Institute Code of Standard Practice.
Because things that can go wrong, I’m afraid I’ll have to invoke Murphy’s Law. Your own personal experience and the past experience of others is your best bet. There is nothing documented that will be covered each and every project.
About the Author
Donald E. Smith, CCS, is AWCI’s director of technical services. E-mail your questions to him at email@example.com, or give him a call at (703) 538.1611.