When I first started in the industry I worked on a long line of high-end retail projects scattered across the United States. Six months after starting I got a question from a project manager about concealed space wood-structure sprinkler protection on a particular store in San Jose.
San Jose? I was positive I never worked on a project in San Jose.
A little digging later revealed I did in fact work on a small retail shop in San Jose. The only problem was that it looked just like the other 30 stores I had worked on in-between. Did I evaluate protection or even consider the combustible above-ceiling space? Did I discuss anything with the AHJ?
I quickly realized that if I didn't take project-specific design notes I'd have no way of revisiting my thought process when a question inevitably arose later in the project.
Ever since then, and not entirely due to my undiagnosed organization issues, I've been on a mad hunt to find the best way to record project notes in the cleanest and most insanely-quick process possible.
For me, it's partially about recording the design thought process, and partially about reminding myself about all the considerations that need to occur for a project.
I can't say I've tried every method for project note-taking, but I have used word templates, checklists, spreadsheets, OneNote files, linked databases, access databases, and the good old pen and paper.
I have several goals when devising project notes for me and the staff I work with:
Here's where I am now - an excel-based, single-page note page where a quick "X" above a cell highlights the one below. If I know all of the information in a project, it can be filled out completely in less than 3 minutes.
It can be a helpful accompaniment for sprinkler contractor clients when we're submitting a bid, or helpful notes to accompany a QC set of drawings.
This is a part of the downloadable Toolkit package where you can print, PDF and save your notes files.
WHAT ABOUT ALARM?
Earlier in this series we introduced a design cheatsheet for fire suppression, but the same setup is not only possible, but necessary for fire alarm as well.
Are manual pull stations at every exit, or are we using an exception?
Do we have an emergency voice/alarm communication type system, or just a temporal-3 horn/strobe system?
Are duct detectors on the supply side or return side of mechanical units? Or both? Are we reporting an alarm or supervisory signal for them?
All of these questions are things we navigate through on each project, but recording the "why" can be just as important as the "what" when the project is out and someone is asking a question about it 15 months later.
This checklist ended up just like the suppression one, on the Toolkit as a trackable checklist. That said, I've ran many projects with this same list just printed out or even saved digitally as an edited PDF. A blank copy that you can print or save as a PDF is below:
Sentry Page Protection