Commercial construction is full of hidden complexities; you often step in dog poo. With experience in your specialty you learn the difference between poo, a pile of leaves, and a pile of leaves that is covering dog poo. Over time you learn a lot, often painfully and at great expense (I call it “tuition”). You still step in poo occasionally – it’s impossible to know everything and it’s the job of architects, owners, and GC’s to try to stick subcontractors with these inevitable problems.
Graybeards like myself increasingly find ourselves dealing with young project managers who have limited real-life experience and knowledge. Some are arrogant and exceedingly annoying. More often they are simply a little clueless and frustrating. Recently I had a pleasant young man as a GC project manager on a small job in which we were installing new precast treads in an existing train station. The stairs went from grade up to an elevated platform. Only the lower third was ours and the only field dimension of concern to us was the wall-to-wall opening into which we had to fit. Very simple to measure. We were committed to that. It took some time to convince this person that he, as GC, had to measure a whole bunch of things. They did not affect me but it was plain as day that the plan dimensions had to be field-verified. He lacked experience that told him that the plans of existing structures are just old plan documents and may not match the reality of the structure. So I explained it to him. I found it mildly annoying; it was SO basic and not my job to train him. The other day I had an enjoyable experience with minor mentoring. We have a contract to provide some odd pieces of a wastewater treatment system (diffuser plate holders, not that you are likely to have a clue as to what this is; I didn’t until I bid them) and the project manager called to let me know that he had a sample of a special metal casting we were to cast into the precast.
I remembered long ago stepping into the problems and complexities of galvanizing threaded pieces and mentioned that to him. This PM was interested and we discussed it at some length. He ended up deciding to investigate the cost difference to get the casting in stainless rather than galvanizing plain cast iron. I suggested raising potential corrosion issues with the owner – they might then even pay the cost difference. He was very appreciate of the assistance and I enjoyed it. In this business, and probably in the rest of life as well, you have to treasure pleasures like that; they are rare.