The most important thing to remember in commercial construction is that you almost always get what you pay for. This means that building owners that are obsessed with the bottom-line may lose out on potential long-term benefits of products with slightly-higher upfront costs. Understanding that it's important to have a healthy balance of cost, quality and functionality/suitability, this article offers some tips for outlining your glass window product specifications.
1. Consider the big picture
Glass isn't just glass, and your choice becomes more important with the increase in project size. While you can afford to use cheaper products in residential construction with minimal effect, commercial buildings are subject to a much higher standard. As such, you should have a frank discussion with your architect and glazing contractor to ensure you have the right specs.
For instance, do you need extreme clarity? What impact-ratings are you looking for? What are the energy-saving requirements/regulations? It is very important that your architect and glazing contractor are on the same page, particularly in the beginning before the architect's mind is made up about the right product for your purposes.
The input of a glazing/glass contractor can be invaluable when you're not certain about different products' performance. In this case, you and your architect can explain your goals and be advised on the best way to go about it within your budget.
2. Listen to your professionals
This should go without saying, but consider that your architect/contractors work hard to bring together building standards/regulations, project demands, project budget and client requirements in suggesting given products. It may not be immediately apparent to you, but your choice of glass can have far-reaching effects on both aesthetic and functional performance of your building.
Consider that slight alterations to save a dollar could put your building's occupants at risk as relates to life and property security, fire safety, clarity and energy performance among other aspects. Often, you'll find that higher upfront costs can be recovered in energy savings, longer usable lifespan and functional value.
3. Consider lifetime costs
There's more to consider than just the upfront material costs. In fact, you're likely to save more money if you consider value-addition features which may be costlier upfront, but give you better service to building occupants. You should also follow up on aspects like warranties and customer support, incidental damage resistance (like scratching) and installation costs. In addition, you'll probably need to reglaze after some years. If you're going to need to replace the glass within a few years, was the upfront cost saving really worth it?