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October 11, 2005 8:40 AM CDT

ASTM Battle Ensues

By

The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) is the governing body that develops and publishes material standards that govern many aspects of masonry construction. At the most recent committee meetings this past June, I was voted non persuasive on the following ballot item:

"12.2 The manufacturer or the seller shall furnish specimens for tests without charge. The place or places of selection shall be designated when the purchase order is placed."

My negative vote was as follows:

"While I understand the need to remove the wording that is considered 'contractual', I believe the intent of this section is lost. It seems to me that the intent is for the manufacturer to provide these test specimens as a part of their obligation to meeting these standards. For example, for a manufacturer to meet ASTM C216, they must provide these test specimens. That is the intent and removing the words 'without charge' could open the door to unfairly place that burden on the contractor.

Solution: Leave wording as is."

My negative was considered and voted non-persuasive on the grounds that the words "without charge" indicates that it is a contractual issue and should be removed from the Standard.

Allow me to explain what is really going on here. In essence, the brick manufacturers are trying to pass the costs of the tested brick onto the contractor. While this may not seem like a lot of money, imagine that you have a very large brick job and have to test your brick often. These costs could add up. Not only that, but if you get bad brick that does not meet specifications, you as the contractor may have to pay for them regardless (according to the ASTM Standard).

This wording has been in all eight of the clay masonry unit Standards (C32, C62, C216, C652, C902, C1088, C1261, and C1272) since 1947. Because an architect on ASTM decided that this cost should not be borne on brick distributors, this wording was balloted. Since ASTM committees are largely populated by manufacturers and distributors, we are in danger of losing this battle.

There are a multitude of items in these ASTM Standards that could be considered "contractual". Yet, the only one that has been balloted to be removed is the one that benefits brick distributors. I am not necessarily opposed to the removal of this wording, however, in fairness; all "contractual" items should be balloted and removed all at the same time, not just the ones that benefit the manufacturers and distributors.

The ballot to vote me non-persuasive is currently being balloted and the ballot closes on October 25, 2005. The results of this ballot will be debated at the Fall ASTM meetings in Dallas, Texas in December of 2005. I encourage all contractors to contact your local brick distributors and others who you know sit on ASTM C15 and talk to them about this issue. If you have any questions about this item, feel free to contact Rashod R. Johnson at MCAA at rjohnson@masoncontractors.org or (847)301-0001.


About the Author

Rashod R. Johnson, P.E., is president of The Roderick Group in Chicago. He is the former Director of Engineering for the Mason Contractors Association of America and currently serves as a technical consultant to the association.

 

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