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Why Working With Masonry Contractors Improves Constructability

J&S Masonry Constructability Edits

Why Working With Masonry Contractors Improves Constructability

Starting a conversation with a masonry contractor shouldn’t wait until construction begins. Here at J&S Masonry, we have 30 years of experience on hundreds of projects. Tapping into our expertise during the design phase will improve a project’s constructability, which means a building that is safer, easier, and (possibly) cheaper to build.

We’ve seen what happens when constructability is left as an afterthought. Let us help prevent construction headaches!

What Happens When Architects, Engineers, and Masons Don’t Talk About Constructability

Problems arise when there’s no constructability plan integrated into the design process.  In one such case, J&S Masonry was contracted to install brick veneer on a building very close to another structure. Without proper space for the scaffold, construction became exponentially more difficult. 

The only solution was to suspend additional scaffold from the already suspended scaffold, as you can see in the picture. Of course, this was not ideal. It would have slowed down construction and put our tradesmen’s lives at risk.

It took a series of long and costly negotiations to allow our team to use the neighboring roof to support the tradesmen installing the first 12’ of façade below the already suspended scaffold base.

All the extra expense and wasted time could have been avoided if masons were involved earlier in the design process. Although we take pride in our ability to problem solve difficult situations, we’d rather work with engineers and architects to create the safest and most efficient plan possible.

What is Constructability?

What is constructabilityWe often see great work put into designs, but we also believe there’s no substitute for specialized field experience in the room during planning. Constructability (or buildability) is the process of reviewing and optimizing construction plans before building begins. When we review a design and construction plan, we look for potential obstacles that may cause errors, delays or cost overruns and ways we can solve the problems. If you assess for constructability with a qualified contractor before you start your project, you can expect construction to be:

  • More economical
  • Easier
  • Faster
  • Safer

Plus, you’ll likely have fewer requests for information (RFIs) during construction too.

Factors That Affect Constructability

Every project brings its own unique challenges and hurdles. Architects and engineers who work with masons have a better chance of creating a design that can be executed smoothly.

Type of Construction Plan

A masonry contractor can help decide which construction strategy is best for a specific project.

  1. Horizontal Construction: Building floor by floor is a common method. But since masonry requires so much equipment, moving horizontally across each floor can slow down production.
  2. Vertical Construction: Working your way up one side of the building at a time is the most efficient method. However, it can also affect the Installation sequencing of the weather resistant barrier (WRB). Building vertically might mean the General contractor more closely plan and coordinate the exterior skin trade’s scope of work. When you think about it, that’s a very good thing for both enclosure and schedule control.

Not every project is created equal, and many factors might impact which approach fits best. Experienced masons can help come up with the best construction plan.

Construction Sequence Matters

J&S Masonry constructability projectNo surprise, but the details within the chosen construction plan are critical as well. Masonry needs to fit in the correct part of the overall building sequence. Having a good flow between the parts of the envelope creation will make a building highly constructible, in an order that might look like the following:

  1. Framing
  2. Sheathing (Drywall) 
  3. Windows
  4. WRB
  5. Insulation
  6. Façade & Panels (which may be metal, brick, stone, slate, etc.)
  7. Caulking & Sealing

Making sure that masonry subcontractors do their work at the correct moment can be complicated. At J&S Masonry, we’ve completed many high profile public and private projects. Our experience ensures that all the masonry elements will be installed at the right time to make the whole envelope take shape without issue.

Types of Access Equipment

The right scaffold is key to executing the construction plan and can depend on the type of masonry being installed. Constructability will also improve if less time is wasted moving the scaffold or having to set it up again to redo part of the building.

Masons can help decide which of the two main scaffold types is right for the job.

  1. Conventional Scaffolding. While it allows easy access to all levels of the building, conventional scaffolding can hold a limited amount of weight and therefore is not ideal for masonry work. If conventional scaffolding is used for a masonry project, it needs to be wider and specifically constructed with movable foot plank.  This conventional configuration is trade specific and not conducive for Multi trade access.
  2. Multitrade Mast-Climbing Scaffolding. Since this type of access equipment will access one level at a time, it is ideal for landing and feeding materials with up to 4,000lb point load capabilities. While it is safe and efficient for vertical construction, it’s less useful for a horizontal, (cork-screw type sequencing) schedule.

Our in-house supply of scaffolding means that many general contractors have even used J&S Masonry as the scaffold contractor for projects.

Constructability Means Details

Collaborating with a masonry contractor can help optimize nearly all the elements of a building façade’s construction. Value and safety are on the line when planning a project, and masons can help everything fit together with ease.

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