General Contractor Takes the Lead

April 2006

Bovis Lend Lease, a project and construction management company with more than 7,500 employees in 93 offices worldwide, is doing it right.

On Jan. 9-10, 2006, Bovis Lend Lease arranged for the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry to bring its EIFS—Doing It Right education program to the Carolinas for an in-house program for BLL employees who were scheduled for upcoming projects involving exterior insulation and finish systems. In addition to having a representative for the owner and architect for one of BLL’s upcoming projects, a hospital expansion in Charleston, S.C., BLL arranged for 23 project superintendents, project managers, senior management staff and quality control managers to attend the seminar and take the examination. Those who passed the exam would become certified EIFS professionals.

Normally, AWCI conducts its EIFS—Doing It Right program at specified locations on specific dates throughout the year, but another option is AWCI will bring the program to a subcontractor, EIFS distributor, regional association or any group to their location on their preferred date.. During the regularly scheduled seminars, AWCI usually has a general contractor or two in attendance. BLL’s was the first by-request program in which all the participants were GCs rather than the usual mix of various EIFS personnel and inspectors.

AWCI Director of Education & Certification Programs Nancy Roylance thought this would be a good opportunity to tailor the instructional content to the experience level of the attendees. "Similar to the scheduled national programs,” she says, "these attendees had a wide range of knowledge going into the course.”

AWCI’s EIFS Education and Certificate Programs

AWCI’s EIFS programs instruct on correct application and/or inspection techniques of EIFS. This generic instruction is not product specific. Both seminar and video program formats are based on industry-accepted material and procedures followed by a multiple-choice test for certification.

There are two ways to obtain the required education and national certification. The first is through attendance at the instructor-led seminars, which offer three categories of certification: for the industry professional, the EIFS inspector and the mechanic. (All attendees at the Bovis by-request seminar were going for the industry professional certificate.)

The second is through the use of the EIFS—Doing It Right! video and workbook, this flexible method of "on-demand” EIFS instruction offers certification for mechanics and is ideal for instruction and certification for the work force.

This certification is for individual people who want to expand their resumes, industry confidence and prove to their employer that they know what they’re doing when it comes to the application of EIFS. These people are the true professionals as backed up by the Codes of Conduct for each certificate category.

When a company has a certain number of EIFS-certified individuals and meets certain other criteria, the company may be designated an EIFSmart Contractor.

Launched in July 2002, the EIFSmart Contractor distinction provides a way to identify quality EIFS companies to owners, insurers, architects and other trade factors. The primary requirement for the EIFSmart recognition is the company’s commitment to standardized, generic EIFS education and related national certification.

The Attendees

Why did Bovis request the special seminar? According to Mike Wilson, project manager for Bovis Lend Lease’s Charlotte office, "We use EIFSmart Contractors to ensure quality in construction of the project. We believe hiring EIFS contracting companies is an added assurance of quality for us since a large percentage of their employees have been through the EIFS—Doing It Right program and are nationally certified.”

Bovis also has a quality program of its own.

To establish Quality Control related to exterior skin components, in 1994 the Carolinas offices of Bovis Lend Lease assigned a quality control manager the tasks of field inspection, contract document review and coordination of third-party testing for all exterior skin and roof trades for projects constructed. The focus of the exterior skin quality control manager was field inspection of workmanship, orchestrating meetings at project sites to coordinate various trades involved in the exterior skin and roof construction, building mock-up assemblies for the purpose of developing the means and methods and construction detailing based on the architect’s design concept. The quality control manager also reviews the contract documents, beginning in design development stages, to assist in coordinating the requirements of manufacturers of various systems with the design intent, develop constructible details and provide means and methods needed to complete a quality, water tight installation.

As part of the ongoing effort to improve the quality control process, in 2002 Bovis Lend Lease developed a Document for Guidelines for Moisture Control in new construction. The guidelines include practices for control of moisture in contact with water-sensitive materials throughout the project construction schedule, as well as an increased focus on quality in construction of exterior skin and roof components. With an exterior skin and roof quality control manager already in place, the increase in focus relative to skin installation was easily undertaken.

Another component of the guidelines for moisture control involved the development of a program for managing and implementing EIFS product construction. For projects utilizing EIFS, the manufacturer and a third party inspection firm are required to review the contract documents for feedback to the architect. The field team, along with the third-party inspector, the manufacturer and the quality control manager routinely inspect the project for compliance with proper installation methods. Part of this compliance deals with proper detailing and installation of flashing construction. To provide an informed review of the EIFS installation, all Bovis Lend Lease supervisors and managers associated with an EIFS product installation are required to attend and earn certification through AWCI’s Education and Certification program.

The Program for Bovis

"Setting up this special class was an easy process for us,” Wilson says. "We picked the dates and the location that worked for us and selected a contact person from Bovis. AWCI staff coordinated with her and provided the instructor, all the materials, equipment and test proctor. The Bovis employees had the convenience of little travel, and our schedule was accommodated—and it cost us less than attending a nationally scheduled program.”

The one and one half days of instruction was primarily on Class PB EIFS (barrier and drainage) with an overview of other systems. Kevin Day, building scientist specialist and long-time instructor for AWCI, presented the program.

The first day ended with segments on base coat, mesh and finish coat. The participants were encouraged to study the day’s material that night and preview the next day’s material. All the major points of the instruction are recapped in the EIFSummary Handbook they received for this purpose as well as to serve as a reference book.

The next day started early with a section on flashing, joints and sealant. When the application portion was delivered, the instructor finished with a section focused on inspection procedures.

At the program’s end, Day said, "The superintendents and project managers certainly had the benefit of understanding the challenges of providing a good EIFS installation and the issues associated with performance.”

When the program ends, attendees are asked to complete evaluation forms. One attendee expressed that "Training of this nature is very warranted for EIFS. I have an understanding of EIF systems and am aware of the major issues to look for to produce quality installations.” Similarly, another reported, "Very good information on a subject that we (construction managers) have not had a hard look at.”

Those of you who may think that some general contractors don’t give it their all may have to re-think your opinion. If the folks at Bovis Lend Lease are doing it right, perhaps others will follow—and that can only add to the good will and good reputation of the construction industry as a whole.