03 October 2017

Just another day: Senseless security

How often have you seen a standard confidentiality disclaimer at the end of an email?
An email I recently received ended with this:
This email together with any attachment(s) is proprietary and confidential, intended for only the recipient(s) named above and contains information that is privileged. You are hereby notified that the dissemination, distribution or copying of this email or its contents including attachments is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, or are not the named recipient(s), you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is prohibited by the sender and doing so constitutes a violation of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. section 2510-2521. Although precautions have been taken to make sure no viruses are present in this email, [company name] cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from the use of this email or attachment(s).

22 May 2017

Just another day - senseless submittals

A couple of days ago, I received four emails from the same manufacturer's rep, containing a total of twenty-two images of new finish colors. Combined file size: Twenty-two meg.

This isn’t unusual. Almost daily, reps send us emails with huge attachments. I understand the desire to make the email attract attention, but only a little effort will accomplish that goal. A few carefully selected images should do the trick.

As for catalogues and other large documents, there is no reason to send them. A link to the file will suffice, assuming the files are online - and if they're not, why not?

03 January 2017

Building envelope - or building enclosure?

In October, I published "Tegularity," a discussion of the proper term for acoustic ceiling panels. (The title came from the name for a specific type of panel edge.) Shortly thereafter, in December 2016, I received a question from Anthony Capkun, editor for  Electrical Business Magazine and former editor for the Construction Specifier. He asked, "What is the correct term these days: a) Building Envelope or b) Building Enclosure?"

I responded that I had always used building envelope, and that that is the term I hear most often. But, having learned a long time ago that always hearing a term used in a particular manner does not mean that that is the correct term, I decided to investigate further.

15 November 2016

Just another day - what to paint

I often joke about paint specifications, which frequently have a list of things that are to be painted, along with another list of things that are not to be painted. It seems no matter how many items are in each list, the painter will ask about something else.

That brings to mind the military maxim: "If it moves, salute it. If it doesn't move, paint it." And that can be reduced to, "If it doesn't move, paint it."

It appears the painter on this project took that seriously.

Look at all that nice, white paint! But what's that round thing where the wall meets the ceiling?
A bird nest! Well, it wasn't in the list of "do not paint"...

25 October 2016


As part of an update of approved abbreviations, my office changed its long-standing ACB (acoustic ceiling board) to ACT (acoustic ceiling tile). Before coming to this office I had always seen ACT, and it took a bit of time to get accustomed to ACB. No one knows where the unusual abbreviation came from, but it is the more logical of the two, as it includes both acoustic ceiling tile and acoustic ceiling panels. Still, it was decided to change from ACB to ACT because it is unusual. I doubt many contractors will ask an architect, "What's ACT?" but it has not been uncommon for contractors, subs, or suppliers to ask us what ACB is.

The change reminded me of a discussion at a CSI technical committee meeting many years ago when we discussed correct terminology for SpecText. It also brought to mind a similar discussion on LinkedIn, which opened with the question, '"Ceiling TILE" or Ceiling "PANEL" -- What's the correct usage?' At the time of the former discussion I thought, as many do, that ceiling tile is 12 inches square, while ceiling panels are 24 by 24, or 24 by 48 inches. That belief lingers on, and appeared in the LinkedIn discussion.

06 June 2016

Just another day - laying out tile

A common recommendation for laying out tile is that the edge pieces should not be less than half the width of the tile. Here's an interesting way to do that.

Just use more grout - saves a lot of cutting!

15 May 2016

Just another day - mystery material

Following up on galvanized stainless steel. I know it is available, but it is not used often, at least in construction. I found an item advertised to be stainless steel and galvanized. It didn't look like anything special enough to require exceptional corrosion resistance, so I asked for more information. This is the discussion:

Me: What type of stainless steel? How thick is the zinc coating?

Vendor: This is Galvanized Stainless steel. There is not a zinc coating.

Me: Galvanizing is the process of applying zinc to a substrate. If it's galvanized it has a zinc coating. How thick is it? If it is stainless steel, what type is it? 304, 316, ???

Vendor: I am sorry, but the specific information is not readily available at this time. I am researching your question and will follow up with an update within one business day. [Kudos to the vendor!]

Vendor: I called and spoke with the manufacturer regarding your questions. I asked them if they could tell me what kind of steel is used in the item, citing the examples you gave such as 304, 316, etc. I also asked if they could disclose how thick the zinc coating is. They informed me that they do not provide information regarding either of those questions. I do apologize for any inconvenience that poses for you.