A Case For ABAA – A Contractor’s Perspective

As Featured on Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA)

I’ve been in your shoes as a contractor; you’re bidding projects relentlessly, trying to stay competitive, but also making sure you have enough in the project to cover all your costs.  It seems you have to make more and more concessions on price while the deliverable never changes.

I was certified as an ABAA Level III installer about five years ago with Southwest Construction Services in Dallas, TX.  The truth is, I didn’t know anything about the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) until my company was awarded a project that required an ABAA Certified Installer to install the air barrier assembly.

Since then, I’ve managed a dozen ABAA installation projects, served as an ABAA Auditor on another dozen projects, and served as quality review on over one hundred audits.

What I’ve learned through the process is that an educated installer makes all the difference in a successful project and, in an industry “starving” for hands-on thought leaders, there is a market opportunity for quality installers.

ABAA is an underutilized resource for installers to differentiate themselves from the competition, leading to more project awards and higher profitability.

Estimating

First things first: ABAA contractor accreditation limits competition from low-ball poor quality firms. If you are an Accredited Contractor, you should be in the general contractor estimator’s ear on day one making sure he or she understands the process and that the right budget is set. It is an uphill battle if the general contractor budgets a low-ball number right out of the gate and by specifying ABAA this sets a bar that makes competing on quality and value possible.

Limiting Competition

Competition is a good thing, but a general contractor taking 10 bids and choosing the lowest isn’t healthy competition. It’s simply taking the bid that has a “bust” in the estimate. The ABAA specification requirement generally limits competition to the quality competitors who have a complete scope.

Product Differentiation

As an ABAA installer, you’ve already spent the time in training and paid the association dues, make sure you get value out of it! The ABAA Accredited Contractor should include this designation in proposals, qualification statements, websites, and marketing materials.

ABAA as a Resource

The ABAA website (www.airbarrier.org) has the most up-to-date air barrier assembly, product and testing information for all ABAA listed products. While the website is a tremendous resource on its own, the most under-utilized resource is the ABAA support staff. They are available to help with anything from informing owners/general contractors/architects of the value of the ABAA specifications and audits, to technical feedback on project specifications and product application.

Also remember this: ABAA is a trade association whose membership consists of a contractor majority. If you are interested in becoming more involved in the Association, please consider joining one of the ABAA committees. For a list of active committees, please email abaa@airbarrier.org.