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The Site Visit: a New Course on Tilt-Up Academy

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Sign in to your new Tilt-Up Academy subscription ( and join architects from Lamar Johnson Collaborative on a project site visit as they review panel construction prior to casting. Learn what they’re looking for on these visits, how they document and communicate their findings, and how the development of extensive checklists carries lessons learned from one project to another.

The process of tilt-up concrete construction creates unique conditions. Before panels are cast, everything is set and available for review, which allows for significant flexibility regarding modification requests and conflict resolution. Additionally, access to the panels is convenient and incredibly safe for nonconstruction personnel, like architects and engineers, as panels are cast horizontally on smooth, hard casting surfaces (usually the building slab or a nearby, recyclable, concrete casting slab). This condition and level of access empowers design professionals during the construction administration phase to execute extensive quality assurance and control protocols efficiently and effectively.

While construction administration can be the responsibility of design professionals in the firm other than those producing the construction documents, it’s valuable to have those most intimately involved with design decisions on site for this process. Beyond the benefits to the project itself, this aids tremendously in improving future work so designers may gain a better understanding of how their designs work in real life. With this knowledge, designers learn to identify potential issues earlier and to design details that are easier to build. Furthermore, this allows designers to better orient their decisions with the strengths of the contractors, tools, and materials employed on the project.

In complex projects incorporating high-end finishes, unique panel details, embedded utilities, and the like, the efforts put into a thorough review can significantly pay off by preventing costly mistakes and significant delays while limiting the inevitable finger-pointing that happens when something goes wrong. Better yet, the team and owner(s) get the results they expected, and no one is put into a situation where they have to settle for a less-than-desirable outcome.

There should be an ongoing effort to develop a checklist for use during these site visits that highlights the lessons that were learned from previous projects. The maturation of these lists and processes will continue to improve experiences and end products. In addition to these checklists, one must be diligent in recording and communicating items that are observed. While contractors may remedy some issues right there on the spot, a formal submission of findings should be provided to the contractor. With that being said, timing is everything. It does no good to submit your punch list after the concrete is placed. Everyone can agree that mistakes and miscommunications caught prior to placing concrete are more easily mitigated than those discovered after panels are erected. Afterall, that is the entire point of this review.

The purpose of this process is to make everyone look good, and it should be viewed as a collaborative opportunity for the team to work toward a common goal, to gain a more thorough understanding of design intent, to cultivate a more sincere appreciation for craftsmanship, and to develop better awareness of material and technology limitations. Ultimately, it’s simply about having each other’s backs and working together. If done in this spirit, the relationships between team members can become one of the project’s most valuable assets.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.