Searching for a Good Steel Fabricator? Keep These Tips in Mind

A Confident Foreman

Only a great structural steel fabricator’s shop will have a foreman that’s great at communication and extremely confident in his shop’s abilities. As the lead of every fabrication job, he guides his group of professionals offering tricks and tips of the trade so that even the least experienced personnel have the guidance they need.

Due to this ability, there are likely many companies that are dedicated to employing them, and are willing to spread the word of their business relationship. There are likely a mix of fabricators that have years of experience as well as those fresh out of college or with engineering degrees. It’s good to find structural steel fabricators that have both these types of experts on board.

Truly, the best foremen are those that have a nice balance of experience and education to ensure a smooth job from start to finish. Those that have worked their way to the top are the best in the business.

Tight Deadline? Only Hire Experienced Fabricators

Often times, if a company has a quick deadline they find themselves frantic to find the best structural steel fabricators. Beware of shops that take one lead fabricator and then assign him or her “random help.”

These jobs need to have experienced hands assigned more than any other. This is because for the job to go quickly, smoothly and accurately everyone should know what they are doing. Otherwise, the experienced individuals end up babysitting those who aren’t as knowledgeable.

Rather than chance missing a critical deadline, each task can be given to a different stringer to make all the correct elements for a nice fit.

Safety First

Workplace and worker safety is the most important element to any job, however not all structural steel fabricators believe this. Every part of the process should be handled with care, especially when it comes to steel plates.

Mishaps occur when crucial steps aren’t followed, and injury can happen much easier. Ensure the crew to be hired is well trained in safety before considering them for the task at hand.

Learn About Processes

Certain processes must be followed in order to fabricate. Structural steel fabricators should be able to explain what they’ll do from start to finish to create the most stellar product possible for their clients. Avoiding unnecessary stress on the steel and maintaining structural integrity is more important than anything. Proper welding, careful measurement and pristine methods are necessary. While the hiring company may not know the specific processes, they should still be able to hear the basics about how parts will be fabricated and ensure they result in engineering’s approval.

Complete Drying of All Concrete

Unfortunately, many structural steel fabricators tend to rush jobs that should never be rushed. This in turn results in a lot of reworking and loss of precious time on a job.

It’s important that when they’re working with concrete they let it completely dry. They should also get precise field measurements, and then complete the structural work. One example is not creating the handrails before the concrete is even poured. This often results in wasted effort as much can happen between planning and construction.

Be Sure They Share Tools

Most don’t realize that slight differences in layout tools can result in problems with consistent and accurate structural steel components.

Inquire with structural steel fabricators to make sure they are using hand tools that are standardized to guarantee a uniform finished product.

These are just some of the little known things to consider when hiring structural steel fabricators, but they can make all the difference in the experience and the results of any build involving steel.

Commercial Construction Tips – How to Know If Your Contractor Is Doing a Good Job

Big construction project or little one. An historic renovation in the heart of old downtown or a new retail center. No matter what kind of construction project you are undertaking, you want to feel assured that you have chosen the right contractor for the job. But how do you know that your contractor is doing a good job?

The success or failure of a contractor is often closely linked with you – how effectively you complete your hiring due diligence, how clearly you state your expectations, and how well you and your contractor communicate with each other during all construction phases.

Preparation and Selection

Before you begin your search for a contractor, you should clearly outline the responsibilities for which you will hold your contractor accountable. Those accountabilities should be included in the contract between you/your company and the contractor.

Next, you need to do your due diligence.

• Ask friends and colleagues who have worked with construction projects similar to yours for contractor recommendations. Ask these questions:

o How did the contractor handle the budget and materials?

o Was the project done on or ahead of time? If it was off schedule, why?

o Was the work done according to agreed-upon terms?

o Would your source work with that contractor again?

If their referral did well on each of those points, he or she may be a good contractor on your project as well

• Check ALL references!

Get it in writing

All good business relationships should begin with, “get it in writing!”

• Each contractor candidate should provide a written bid. Red flag: nothing in writing.

• You and your contractor should have a signed contract. Include details on the budget, scope of work, materials, the schedule, and the contractor’s specific responsibilities. Red flag: the contractor who won’t sign a contract.

• Your contractor should take notes during each walkthrough and meeting. Red flag: “I’ll remember… “

On the job

These are some important on-the-job clues that your contractor is doing a good job:

• Communication: you and your contractor communicate frequently and clearly according to your agreed-upon methods (text, fax, email, phone). Red flags: doesn’t return calls, is difficult to reach, provides limited responses to questions, communicates poorly with work crew.

• Subcontractors: contractor hires quality subcontractors with verifiable references. Red flags: conflicts on the job, petty thefts, on-the-job substance abuse, wasted time, etc.

• Safety: contractor diligently observes safety practices and insists that all workers comply with safety rules. Red flags: avoidable injuries, safety issues.

• On the job site: contractor is working at the job site for the majority of the time. The construction crew is busy during all working hours of the week. Red flags: contractor is infrequently on site, workers have too much idle time.

• Security: appropriate security measures are observed at all times. Red flags: equipment and materials not secured or missing, the site is poorly secured during non-working hours, unauthorized people are on site.

Schedule and budget

Ideally, every construction project is completed on budget and on schedule. Realistically, there may be some schedule interruptions and unexpected costs.

Ask yourself some final questions:

• Is my contractor providing me with accurate, up-to-date information on all aspects of the job and construction progress?

• Is he/she managing resources, budget, crew, and materials effectively and appropriately?

• Are crew members working fairly harmoniously with each other?

• Are my objectives for this project being met?

When you can answer yes to these questions, it is most likely that your contractor is, indeed, doing an excellent job for you. Congratulations on your choice, and your new project!