Selecting a structural steel framing system and engaging a structural steel fabricator reduces the risk exposure of the general contractor.
Project risk can take many forms. Some risks are financial in nature while others relate to schedule. There are risks associated with the complexity of the design. There are risks tied to the quality of the workmanship. And some risks are directly associated with construction activities related to weather, site conditions, operational productivity and safety.
The general contractor must carefully examine all the risks associated with either self-performing or subcontracting the concrete on a project compared to subcontracting a structural steel system.
A structural steel system inherently reduces risk in all categories based on the fact that structural steel is fabricated off site in controlled conditions, which greatly diminishes the impacts of weather and site conditions. Offsite fabrication occurs in a manufacturing-environment, allowing for greater productivity, enhanced quality and a safer working environment.
Compared to field-built concrete or wood structures, complex designs can be addressed in a shop environment with greater precision and certainty. Unique in the world of construction, the structural steel industry has published a Code of Standard Practice that clearly defines standard industry practices and aligns expectations between engineers, contractors and structural steel fabricators. The Code was developed through ANSI-consensus process that included engineers, general contractors and steel fabricators and erectors.
Field erection of a structural steel frame requires considerably fewer workers than concrete or wood construction, and the high level of experience and training received by ironworkers reduces the exposure to injuries on the project site. And weather isn’t nearly as much of a factor in steel construction as it is with concrete.
Financial and schedule risks are mitigated by the use of a subcontractor to whom those risks are transferred contractually. These are risks that the structural steel specialty contractor is best prepared to manage.
Just as with the transfer of any risk, the party accepting the risk must be compensated for assuming it. However, it is important to remember that the party that is best prepared to manage a particular risk is the best party to assume that risk from a cost, schedule and quality perspective.
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