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Are We Prepared?

It’s a new year and by no coincidence this month’s focus in AWCI’s Construction Dimensions is the “new normal.” During the past year you have seen this theme appeared in our magazine several times and you probably have read or heard about it in other media. I have simply been associating the term with our new economic path, but the new normal means more than just that. This first issue of 2011 features several articles addressing the topic, one which made reexamine my views of it.

The feature story “The Architect’s ‘New Normal’” delves into the manner in which the majority of contract documents are delivered today—electronically. In reading this story, I realized how rapidly our work has shifted from receiving blueline drawings from GCs to receiving PDFs instead. The new “electronic blueprints” we now have to print at our own expense.

I further reflected on some other changes our industry has seen over the years: fax machines to information by e-mail and other electronic formats; Sweets Catalogs to software downloads. Or how about the shift to computerized estimating and electronic submittals (and need I mention Building Information Modeling?)? No longer do we wait to get back to the office to return calls when we can retrieve and send information via five modes from a phone in our pocket.

There are numerous benefits and an equal number of negatives to this progression of technology, and unfortunately, the construction community—especially contractors—are resistant to change. Whether you consider this a blessing or a curse, this is the “new norm.” While it may seem that I am only restating the obvious, these are real issues that we continue to deal with every day. The sooner we embrace them, the sooner we won’t see them as an impediment to the way we do business. It’s a new year, and if any resolutions are worth sticking to for the whole 12 months, this is one of them.

In addition to being the 2010–2011 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Allen is vice president of Compass Construction in Columbus, Ohio.

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