If you work within the design and construction industry, it may not surprise you that glazing contractors tend to get a bad rep. Although glass and glazing subcontractors are essential to most construction projects and perform critical parts of the building process, construction teams generally don’t place them at the top of their favorite sub-lists for various reasons.
Unlike other subcontractors, glazing contractors conduct their services while the building is being erected. They select, cut, assemble, or install all glass, glass work, mirrored glass, and glass substitute materials for glazing during a project. They also execute the fabrication and glazing of frames, sashes, doors, panels and, in many cases, furnish architectural elements like sunshades, glass canopies, and ACM paneling.
So, if these glaziers are so essential to the success of architectural projects, why do some people within the industry groan at the thought of working with them? Up next, we’re going to unpack a few theories as to why glazing contractor’s suck.
They Are Too Detail-Oriented
Glazing is an extremely precise trade. When glazing contractors install glass and glazing systems into concrete and steel structures, their tolerance factor is significantly less than other trades such as steel or concrete subcontractors.
For example, when a piece of glass is framed but is half an inch out of frame, it proves to be a huge issue for glaziers because they don’t have the luxury of modifying their products with a quick turnaround. Glazing contractors are unable to cut and modify the glass after it is manufactured. If 1/16th of an inch is off, that can mean the whole system will not work, and the entire design needs to be scratched, or costly solutions such as moving the steel, griding the concrete, or reworking the design needs to be completed.
Their Materials Take Too Long to Manufacture
Glass is a very time-consuming product to work with. Glazing contractors are usually reprimanded for having too long of a turnaround time for materials which can eat away at a construction schedule, causing delays and frustrations if not planned for early on.
Glass materials have extended lead times because manufacturing is a lengthy process. Companies that manufacture glass are large in scale and typically have a long list of customers. There is a standardized, systematic process they must follow when manufacturing new orders. Once an order is started, they can’t stop the assembly line and sneak in one new order because the glass did not fit for the project. The same goes for if the glass shatters in the installation process. Once an order is placed, the manufacturing companies treat it like a brand-new glass order with no wiggle room to speed up the process. There are also custom, complex and fire-rated solutions that require strict material testing to be completed before shipping.
Unlike glazing contractors, masons or steel contractors can easily take the product back to their shop and quickly redo the material or pick up a new product from the store. Because glazing is a specialized product and skilled service, glazing contractors cannot quickly supplement the material.
The Glass Gets Damaged
General contractors often complain about finished glass getting scratched or damaged by the end of the project. In most cases, glazing contractors are installing one of the only finished products at the initial start of the construction process when the building is being erected. Thus, as other trades begin their scopes and construction continues, the newly installed frames, doors, and glass have a high probability of becoming scratched or damaged in some way.
Glass is installed into a project while under the scrutiny of the owner, contractor, or architect on site. The facade glass and framing systems are finished early in construction, making it the first finished product of the project. Unfortunately, finishes on the inside cannot be done without the glass being installed on the outside to dry in the building and protect it from environmental elements. The glass acts as the protective skin to the organs installed inside the building, and occasionally that skin takes damage that needs to be buffed out as the project nears completion.
They Ask for Too Much and Are Too Expensive
Glazing contractors are commonly brushed off for the space they require during the construction process. Their glass products require a significant amount of onsite space to store and maneuver safely and correctly. Glazing contractors are regularly installing 10-foot panels of floor-to-ceiling glass with very minimal clearance to handle the material. On a condensed job site, it is very easy to catch the edge of the floor or other obstacles and shatter.
Glass and glazing are also a high dollar amount trade, where this one scope can total around 15-20% of the construction costs on average. For projects with a tight budget, this can create frustration.
A Solution to Your Glazing Contractor Problems
There are plenty of issues that are continuously brought up when working with glazing contractors, but solutions to these issues are rarely presented. With the precise nature of glazing and how glass design directly affects essential components such as energy calculations, hurricane, and safety protection, and even the inhabitant’s physical wellbeing, the role that glass and glass subcontractors play is becoming more critical to understand. Professional glaziers are specialists in their field, and involving them early in the design and budgeting process can help alleviate the challenges and pain points of a project at the very beginning.
As architects continue to push the envelope when it comes to building and fenestration design, glazing contractors that are part of early project conversations bring experience and technical knowledge at a pivotal point in the project when there is more flexibility.
Quality glazing contractors can help architects and construction teams see the lines they can color within before mapping out their vision for the project. The sooner the glazing contractor can fill in the blanks for what should be expected and what is possible for the architect, the better the building process will be.
Rhyno Glass - A Different Kind of Glazing Contractor
If you are still struggling while working with glazing contractors, there is an option that has addressed all the issues mentioned above.
Rhyno Glass is a Tampa-based full-service commercial glass and glazing company specializing in structural glazing, innovative façade design, and unique and ambitious fenestration goals. With decades of glazing experience, Rhyno Glass focuses on being proactive and anticipating most issues before they happen.
Rhyno Glass’s mobilized crew of professionals measures all frames before the glass order is placed and communicates all steps necessary for them to safely and accurately fulfill their job. They also provide insight into their tolerance with ordering new materials from the start, so everyone is on the same page.
They encourage the general contractor to protect the material should there be any scratches or damages throughout the construction process. Rhyno Glass has invested in scratch removal equipment and training for their glazing professionals. If there are scratches to the glass, they have the personnel to deploy onsite and fix any damages that may occur.
Rhyno Glass is a comprehensive single-source building envelope contractor with technical design-assist capabilities, innovative solutions, and detailed engineering and preconstruction efforts to assist every step of the project from design through installation. They take ownership in getting involved in the early phases of the project and are aware of what it takes to get even the most unique and complex projects completed successfully.
Contact Rhyno Glass to have a seamless and issue-free glazing system in your next project.