From a McDonald’s Napkin to BCSI: Educating Customers on Proper Installation & Bracing

President's Message

From a McDonald’s Napkin to BCSI: Educating Customers on Proper Installation & Bracing

If you are not currently providing BCSI documents with every job, please consider this article as my plea for you to immediately start this simple practice.

In recent years, I have come to the realization that there’s a great need to educate our customers on the fundamentals of handling and bracing trusses, which are covered extensively in the BCSI book, B-Series Summary Sheets and Jobsite Packages. Simply put, good information never gets old. While we’re in agreement that the component manufacturer (CM) is not responsible for ensuring that customers brace their jobs correctly, it should be our goal to guide them in the right direction. Far too many times, I have been on jobsites where the contractor did not use enough bracing or, even worse, simply didn’t use any bracing at all. I have also witnessed the handling of trusses in ways that would make your skin crawl. There’s a fine line between the component manufacturer filling in or being perceived as the engineer of record, which we do not want, and the concerned component manufacturer who feels the need to ensure successful erection and installation of our products.

So how do we accomplish this goal? If you have ever picked up the BCSI book and skimmed through it, you know there is a lot of good information in it. For those of us who have read the BCSI book from cover to cover, you truly understand just how awesome that book is and how very critical these instructions are to the contractor. After reading the best practices laid out in the BCSI documents, it’s all too clear that many individuals do not know the essential requirements of handling, installing, restraining and bracing trusses.

Like me, you may be gripped by fear at times when you think about how many jobs have been built incorrectly with a wide variety of products, including trusses not installed and permanently braced per building code requirements and without code compliance installation inspections to boot. What a tragic fact. Of course, if you do business in an area where everything must be approved by an engineer and thoroughly inspected by a building official, then these concerns may not be at the top of your list. For those of us in areas that do not adhere to those requirements, this should be cause for alarm. 

As a component manufacturer in Louisiana, we must deal at times with customers who have drawn their house plans on a McDonald’s paper napkin. If they decide to make any changes, they simply fold the McDonald’s napkin to hide the section that is wrong and then tape a Wendy’s napkin to it with the revision. I wish I were making this up! Working on a project as delicate as this, we know right away that we shouldn’t bet on the customer hiring an engineer of record. Nevertheless, we do encourage it.

In an unfortunate scenario like this with the fast food napkins, the BCSI book and Summary Sheets are our saving grace. It literally could be the difference between life and death. This is especially true if the customer plans to install the trusses on his own. If this customer is given the BCSI documentation when he orders the trusses, he may be very eager to go over them with a member of your staff. Although we give the customer a brief overview of what the documentation covers, we still make it very clear that an engineer of record is needed to ensure complete safety on the jobsite. The fact remains, however, that some individuals will not spend the money to do so. Lately, I have seen more and more multi-million dollar homes built that never have an architect or engineer review the plans or check the jobsite at any time during construction. There are many other states that have this same problem.  

How do we help our customers build a better building and stay safe? We give them the tools necessary for success. If you are not currently providing BCSI documents with every job, please consider this article as my plea for you to immediately start this simple practice. For just a few dollars a job, you can provide the industry best practices included in the Jobsite Package, educate your customer, and protect your business. Better yet, include the Jobsite Package, BCSI book or Summary Sheets as a line item on the customer’s invoice to document that you provided this information. It is absolutely necessary that we do our very best to protect our industry. What better way to accomplish this than to provide our customers with the very documents that teach them the fundamentals of proper installation, handling, restraining and bracing of truss systems.

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