Glass is everyone’s favorite architectural material, but specifying and installing it correctly calls for some serious expertise. Here are some hints to help you identify what makes a great contractor, and what should be an immediate red flag.
1. Been There, Done That
Make sure your glazing contractor has deep experience in multiple kinds of projects. You’re not out to be anybody’s next science project, so make sure your prospective glazing contractor has a clear and documented track record with your specified type of glazing project. Larger contractors will likely have an extensive portfolio of completed projects on their websites. Smaller companies should be able to offer you photos and references at a minimum. Go and look at the work in person if you can.
2. Power to the Paperwork.
Handling and installing glass can be dangerous, so make sure your prospective glazing partner has the appropriate insurance, workmanship warranties and that the manufacturers they use have solid warranties. The company should be licensed, bonded, and insured appropriately. Insist on seeing those documents before you sign on the dotted line, and make sure the certificates are up to date.
Insurance coverages to look for include general liability insurance, workman’s compensation, as well as pollution and mold policies. These coverages will help protect you if there is an accident on the job site and safeguard the interior construction and finishes from leaks resulting in mold. Steer clear of uninsured contractors.
Make sure the company is licensed to work in your state and city. States have varying requirements, and some cities have their own system of professional licensing. It’s worth a phone call to your local licensing authority to confirm any special requirements. Union workers have their own accreditation system, and members must complete ongoing training to remain in the union.
Workmanship warranties typically extend for at least one year. They help protect you by ensuring the work is done promptly, and from errors pertaining to set up and installation of your job. Manufacturer’s warranties cover defective materials. You should ask for written proof of both. When something goes wrong on the job site, disputes between installation work and manufacturers can be complicated and expensive. Both types of coverage protect you and your project.
There are also outside, third-party organizations within the glass industry that offer credentialing systems. Some of these are the North American Contractors Association, ISO 9001, and the Safety Glazing Certification Council. Membership in the National Glass Association is an added plus.
Finally, any glazing contractor should also have a safety program in place and ensure that their employees are properly trained to work safely on your project.
3. Check the Spec
Facades are becoming increasingly complex, and an accurate specification is critical to getting the job done on time and on budget. While specs are primarily done by the architect or the general contractor, a quality glazing contractor will review the spec with a different lens. Glazing contractors understand the proper procedures to lift and transport glass, use sealants correctly, handle complex installation techniques and other tasks, but their daily proximity to local jobs can also provide the expertise to identify any “red flags.” Some of these include copied and pasted specs that can be too generic, outdated standard and test method references, special circumstances (is the job next to a federal courthouse that may need special blast considerations?), or even incorrect glazing products that are no longer being manufactured. If a spec needs to be changed, make sure there is a process in place to let the entire team know.
4. Know Your Customer’s Customer
A great glazing contractor will have long-term relationships with their customers. They should be able to provide you with references from satisfied customers who have used their services multiple times. A contractor who has a loyal customer base is an excellent indication that they deliver quality work and excellent customer service. Ask for multiple references and check them. Start at the bottom of the list because companies will tend to put their “star” projects at the top of the list.
5. Powerful Partnerships
An established glazing contractor will have strong industry partnerships with suppliers, manufacturers, and other contractors. They should be able to provide you with a list of their partners and their qualifications. Strong industry partnerships also mean that they have access to better pricing on the latest new glazing products, technology, and equipment, which could save you money.
6. The Class Pass to Success
Despite the basic simplicity of glass, most commercial glass is high-performance with specialized coatings, laminations, frits, colors, and a host of other glazing options and styles that can dictate the cost of a project. Codes and standards change, as do test methodologies. Look for a glazing contractor that insists on continuing education and stays on top of the latest technologies, techniques, and trends in the glazing industry. One excellent source for anyone in the glazing industry is the National Glass Association’s popular program called MyGlassClass.com. It offers more than 100 courses for contract glaziers, full-service glass companies, glass and metal fabricators, customer service and sales reps, and business owners. Attending trade shows sponsored by the National Glass Association and other local glazing groups offers access to dynamic speakers and cutting-edge products.
7. Behind the Glass Curtain
A great glazing contractor should be transparent about their processes, pricing, and communication. They should be upfront about their pricing and provide you with a detailed quote that includes all costs, such as materials, labor, and permits. The company should also be transparent about any supply chain shortages, potential delays, or issues that may arise during the project.
If you looking for a glazing contractor with a proven track record, contact Rhyno Glass.
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 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 project in the early phases 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.