May 8, 2018

If you want ‘museum quality,’ you need a realistic estimate.

Thoroughness in details and clear communication are the watchwords in architectural metal fabrication. That’s why we constantly invite architects and designers to contact us with their metals questions. The more complex your project, the more pressing it is to consult specialists who know exactly what they’re doing, especially when dealing with metals.

Metal is hard. Metal is heavy. Metal is unforgiving.

Far from being expendable in trial and error, architectural metal fabrications must be designed, machined, assembled and installed only once – correctly. One small error in the process can result in enormous costs that involve deinstallation, refabricating and reconstruction.

Details! Details!

And more details. That’s just how it should be when you are ready to implement your amazing design into a stunning building feature. For a custom metals feature to fit perfectly and look fantastic, everyone from the machinists and welders to the construction crews and installation teams must know the precise details of their individual tasks in building the structure. The engineering behind everything must be sound and the manufacturing requirements must meet or exceed the quality expectations for the finished work.

A lowest-bid approach to a high aspiration project is almost sure to fail in quality expectation and can very often cost the most in the end because of mistakes. This is precisely (pun intended) why complex metal fabrication projects need a specialized estimator and project manager – a metals expert who can support architects, engineers and construction teams though a complete architectural metals project, so it fits perfectly at installation.

Bred to be Thorough

It’s crucial to understand everything that’s necessary to fully integrate a fabricated metal assembly into the architecture of a building. Everything from the load bearing supports to the proper fittings to the finely crafted finishes of the exposed metals need proper attention.

Estimates for complicated and potentially difficult projects like feature stairs, custom rails and art-inspired building ornaments will tend to vary widely between vendors. Our advice is to be wary of low bids on metals projects. Ask for specificity in what’s included and compare apples to apples.

When we are told that our estimates are too high, a few questions or a little investigation reveals discrepancies in major specifications such as using proper alloys, mounting requirements, needed fixtures and proper site preparation. We’ve cleaned up a few messes after low bid decisions over the years. Being called in to fix an installation failure might pay some bills but we’d much rather do the project the first and only time.

Challenges are Fun!

Difficult building challenges often test the mettle of consultants, subcontractors and vendors. We provide our contact information clearly with each communication because we welcome calls from architects with difficult metals challenges. If you can find out exactly what it will take to implement your most ingenious and visionary designs, you are in the best position to go forward with your finest work.

We use the phrase “museum quality” to describe the weight and permanence of the structures we help create. Estimating the costs of this work is serious business and we are very serious about our estimates. A realistic estimate includes everything it will take to get it done right and without any surprises.

If you have questions about a difficult metals project or need an estimate, feel free to call us at (603) 402-3022 or email