On June 21st, I attended the Marble Institute Stone Industry Education in Toronto, ON. This time there were two keynote speakers and a fabricator forum. As always, I learned a bunch and met a great group of fabricators and suppliers.
From Countertops to Light Construction
First, Mike Picco of Picco Engineering discussed making the transition from countertops to light construction. That includes doing commercial and very-high-end residential projects. This was very interesting to the Toronto crowd, since they’re still in the midst of a condo building-boom.
I was really surprised to see all of the cranes adding to the downtown skyline. In fact, the condo market is so strong, that while I was there, the Canadian parliament passed a law tightening restrictions on mortgages to help slow down the demand.
For countertop jobs, the requirements are pretty straightforward. Material typically ranges between 2-4 stone slabs. The shop drawings include information about the material, finish, edge, sink, and a few other cutouts. The typical process is Measure->Fabricate->Install.
With commercial jobs, the requirements are much more complex.
Material – rather than having a few slabs of granite with well-know characteristics, for commercial jobs the material selection is a big part of the process. It’s important to consider whether the material specified is suitable to the application. If it’s suitable, is it available in the correct sizes and quantity? Then you need to test the material for the application you’re planning, and find historical data about how the stone will perform, too.
Structural Backup – The structure of the building is important when you’re doing stone cladding. Concrete is best.
Shop Drawings – On a commercial job, the shop drawings must be coordinated with the architect and other subcontractors – the positions of the roof, windows, and other exterior elements need to be coordinated carefully with the stone. And all of this has to be done perfectly ahead of time, since the stones are pre-cut, and it’s not feasible to do cutting in the field. In order to accommodate small variances in the stone, tolerances need to be built in to provide some wiggle-room that isn’t visible from the outside.
Sequencing – Having the right material in place at the right time, clearly marked is a huge part of the job. Especially with a downtown high-rise, it’s impossible to bring all of the stone at once – there’s not enough space on the job site.
I was fascinated by Mike’s expertise and the pictures he showed of the projects his firm has worked on. It’s truly a mind-blowing scale in terms of the material, coordination, and I assume the dollars at stake.
I’ll continue with the Fabricator Forum in the next post.
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo lets you draw, estimate, and layout countertops in just minutes. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell stone remnants with fabricators near you.