The United State Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the biggest sources of construction jobs in the country. Billions of dollars are spent every year on construction in all areas of the United States. For example, in the fiscal year 2012 there was $1.54 billion, 2013 $1.33 billion and 2014 $1.54 billion spent in construction. As of this past spring, the VA had more than 1,930 jobs available for bid.
With more than 300 Master Construction Specifications for new projects, the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) strives for the highest level of industry standards. INSTALL, the International Standards and Training Alliance, operates the highest level of training and certification in the North American floorcovering industry. The quality of its programming is such that the Department of Veteran Affairs adopted INSTALL certification standards into its Section 09 68 00 Carpeting, Section 09 65 19 Resilient Tile Flooring and Section 09 68 21 Athletic Carpeting. This effectively directs that every VA carpet, resilient tile and athletic carpeting job specified must be installed by an INSTALL certified installer.
This specification language underscores the Department of Veteran Affair’s determination that only a flooring contractor who employs an INSTALL certified workforce is qualified enough to perform work for the VA, the single largest government employer in the United States.
“Because of its low bid system, the VA is often stuck working with a contractor that satisfies the product and materials specification standards but the VA specifier knows won’t be able to do the job right,” said John McGrath, executive director, INSTALL. “The fact that INSTALL contractors can show proof of training and certification and in some cases, offer the INSTALL Warranty on Labor proves up front that they are working with dependable and professional contractors.”
The Writing on the Wall
Effective May 1, 2015, the newly adopted VA Master Specifications language for Carpet, Resilient Tile, and Athletic Carpeting reads as follows:
1.6 QUALITY ASSURANCE:
A. Installer Qualifications: A company specializing in installation with minimum three (3) years’ experience and employs experienced flooring installers who have retained, and currently hold, an INSTALL Certification, or a certification from a comparable certification program.
1. Installers to be certified by INSTALL or a comparable certification program with the following minimum criteria:
a. US Department of Labor approved four (4) year apprenticeship program, 160 hours a year.
b. Career-long training.
c. Manufacturer endorsed training.
d. Fundamental journeyman skills certification.
Getting To Work
INSTALL contractors are already acting on this new partnership with the VA. INSTALL Warranty Contractor Master Craft Flooring has worked on multiple VA projects over the course of several years. Mastercraft was recently awarded the bid through a local contractor joint venture to handle a sizable flooring installation in the Veterans Rehabilitation Clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The project-at-hand spanned two floors requiring a total of 31,000 square feet of flooring. With a plan for intricate patterns, colors and a broad scope of materials, the VA designers in conjunction with interior designers from the Albert Kahn architectural firm, sought to create the feeling of walking into a hotel space as opposed to a clinical facility. This meant evolving every floor from its 80s-era look and feel to a modern, yet timeless design using materials that were durable, safe for patient care and wouldn’t date the facility.