When a contractor is faced with a specification or language in a job plan that is contradictory to real-world applications or superfluous, he has limited options in getting a resolution. The best thing he can do is discuss these conflicts with the project engineer before construction starts. Engineers aren’t always willing to take advice from contractors, so these conversations are rarely easy.
After years of seeing similar conflicts arise on different projects across the country and seeing contractors running into the same specification issues project after project, the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) introduced Position Statements in 2003. The one-page documents, written by ASCC Technical Director Ward Malisch and consulting engineer Bruce Suprenant, explain why these common issues arise and how to remedy the situations. The statements are based largely on research pulled from the American Concrete Institute (ACI), ASTM International and published papers. ASCC offers 44 Position Statements — 36 covering traditional concrete and eight focused on decorative concrete. ASCC adds Positions Statements as worthy topics arise.
Position Statements at work
Chris Plue, Webcor Concrete, Alameda, Calif., recalls a recent high rise project where the plans called for his company to sand blast or water blast rebar before concrete placement, a common engineer request based on ACI documents that were written to prevent bond issues between reinforcement and concrete. Plue introduced the engineer on the job to ASCC Position Statement #3 “Coatings that Affect Bond to Reinforcement.” The Position Statement cites research that shows form release agents, bond breakers and cement splatter do not decrease bond. “It resulted in savings of over $20,000 on that job alone,” Plue says.
On the same project, Webcor ran into a second issue where a Position Statement helped save the company time and money. “Many times specs say the concrete can’t drop more than 5 feet during placement. Yet on almost every high rise, columns are built by dropping the concrete more than 5 feet,” Plue explains.
To alleviate this construction challenge, Webcor submitted ASCC Position Statement #17 “Free Fall of Concrete,” which cites research that proves concrete can drop more than 5 feet without affecting the concrete.
“Because the Position Statements come from third-party research — not contractors asking for relief — engineers and owners are more accepting of the information,” Plue says.
Steve Lloyd, president of Lloyd Concrete, is another contractor who has successfully utilized ASCC Position Statements to clarify construction specifications and educate the people he works with. “When I get a new Position Statement, I send it on to the local engineering community. Our company also holds ‘lunch and learns’ two to four times a year. We buy 10 to 20 people lunch and talk about slabs. The engineers like this because they can get credits toward their licenses too,” he says.
Lloyd’s Lynchburg, Va., company, which performs industrial, commercial and high rise cast-in-place and tilt-up concrete, looks at his specifications before he bids a job and starts communicating inconsistencies and issues early on. One area he is constantly discussing with owners and engineers is slab curling. “Concrete is going to curl, just like it is going to crack. We want to minimize that. The process starts with the design,” Lloyd says.
If he thinks changes can be made to the mix and slab designs to reduce curling, he will bring ASCC Position Statement #30 “Responsibility for Slab Curling” to prepour meetings. Position Statement #30 warns of the dangers of slab curling and the steps that can be taken to reduce it. “Nine times out of 10, the engineer will change the mix design. If he doesn’t, I don’t take the job,” Lloyd says.