AWI Quality Times for 06/18/2020

Featured image for “AWI Quality Times for 06/18/2020”

Of Note

  • QCC Introduces Practical Guide to Standards
    Dive into the new digital resource about the AWS and new AWI Standards.
  • New Architectural Wood Casework Standard
    The long-awaited ANSI / AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard became effective June 1.

COVID-19: The New ‘Norm’ — At Least for Now

As each State enters into various phases of reopening, I would like to give an update on the Quality Certification Program’s (QCP) ability to react to the current situation.  On March 15, 2020, QCP enabled every member of our team to work remotely from home while simultaneously being connected to the office servers, phone system and other team members.  Our most efficient communication with all stakeholders continues to be email and telephone.  The direct dial extensions are forwarded to the individual’s cell phone, and our main phone lines are open if you need to call our office for specific questions or assistance.  To connect with our staff, click here, and scroll down.

Additionally, in consideration for the health of our clients and collaborators, we will endeavor to hold all future meetings via the Zoom platform whenever possible.  Fortunately, our network technology, file management, communications and operational standards have always allowed the QCP team members to work from remote locations without disruption to our workflow.  We are confident that we have initiated the necessary steps during this time of uncertainty to ensure our services and work product remain at the highest level, as our world and workplace change daily.

We are utilizing our video technology to provide project support and inspection in order to keep everyone safe.  The health of our team, families, clients and community is the highest priority that we can share with you.  QCPs project registrations and certification orders have remained strong and even increased throughout the first two quarters of 2020, which is a testimonial to the value of third-party compliance inspections of the interior architectural woodwork component of construction.  We look forward to moving through this time of uncertainty together with as little disruption as possible to your QCP licensing and project requirements.

QCC Releases a Comprehensive Guide to the AWS & AWI Standards for Woodworkers & Architects

The Quality Certification Corporation (QCC) announces a new resource designed as a practical guide to the Architectural Woodwork Standards and AWI Standards. Hot off the press, this e-book addresses and walks users through all the sections of the Architectural Woodwork Standards, Edition 2 (2014) (AWS) and how the content relates to the new AWI Standards. It’s full of practical examples and useful information, and breaks the standards down in an easy-to-digest way that provides a comprehensive high-level overview.

This new 45+ page e-book is easy to navigate and has a user-friendly table of contents for quick access to any specific information you’re seeking. Users can also search for key words or terms they want to know more about, and download or print the document so it’s easy to reference at any time.

You can download the new e-book from here.

AWI Releases Next Generation Architectural Wood Casework Standard

With the release last month of the ANSI / AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard, the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) opened the door for innovation and cost saving opportunities.  ANSI / AWI 0641 took effect June 1, 2020, and succeeds, replaces, and supplants Section 10 of the Architectural Woodwork Standards, Edition 2 (2014) as the most current version of the AWI Standards for architectural wood casework.

The ANSI / AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard encompasses a variety of architectural wood casework, including wood veneer-faced architectural cabinets, plastic-laminate-clad architectural cabinets, and cabinet and drawer hardware as specified under CSI MasterFormat Division 6. This standard establishes structural and aesthetic tolerances for each of the aforementioned applications, ensuring that the final product is of the utmost quality with regards to the specified visual appeal and structural integrity.

In previous AWI Standards, a casework unit’s aesthetic and structural requirements were lumped together under three Grades: Economy, Custom and Premium. In ANSI / AWI 0641. Now, characteristics are divided into two parts for the first time: 1) Aesthetics — Economy, Custom and Premium Grades; and 2) Structural Performance — Duty Levels: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Duty Levels evolved from the desire of a performance-based standard, according to AWI Technical Committee Chair Greg Lutz, president of Lutz Woodworks.  The Duty Level requirements were determined by measuring the amount of force and pressure the product can tolerate or withstand during the extensive AWI testing process at the AWI National Testing Center.

The ANSI / AWI 0641-2019—Architectural Wood Casework Standard, as well as, AWI  100—Submittals, AWI 200—Care & Storage, AWI 300—Materials, and ANSI / AWI 0620-2018—Finish Carpentry Installation Standard are presented in an interactive format online to view, bookmark, save and share free of charge through the Standards Area of  Printed copies of all AWI Standards are available for purchase in the website store. 

With a trial membership, AWI is also offering non-member users free access to relevant education information, online My AWI Community discussions and member company specialties through its website’s powerful new search feature that is the gateway to AWI’s robust Digital Learning Portal at  Current AWI members have unlimited access to these bonus materials for the length of their membership.  

The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) has produced and collaborated on the development of standards in accordance with its mission since its founding in 1953 to the present day. AWI is an ANSI-accredited Standards Developer Organization. To continually improve Standards for architectural woodwork and related interior finishes is central to AWI’s mission.

Founded in 1918, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. The Institute represents the diverse interests of more than 270,000 companies and organizations, and 30 million professionals worldwide.

New Conformance Validation Procedure Resulting from the New ANSI / AWI Wood Casework Standard

The Architectural Woodwork institute has released the ANSI / AWI 0641-2019–Architectural Wood Casework Standard, which became effective for PROJECTS BID after June 1, 2020 that call for the AWS current edition.

What QCP licensed firms need to know about the new standard is the requirement for all casework to meet a performance Duty Level. This is a new and important difference because it separates the previous structural and aesthetic quality requirements [Custom & Premium] so that these requirements (Grade) only apply to the aesthetic and adds the performance requirements(Duty Level) for the structural component. The Duty Levels are 1-4 and the default Duty Level is 3.

Why is this important?  On a QCP project there will need to be verification that the casework meets this requirement. This can be done in a couple ways: verification with soon-to-be-released AWI tested and approved casework Duty Level 3 methodologies OR a woodworker’s tested proprietary casework method.  In both instances QCP licensed firms will need to schedule in-plant verification visits which can be done using video technology. In both cases, QCP will confirm that methodologies used conform to the tested casework shop drawings showing joinery details, testing results and material cores tested.

The AWI QCC Board of Directors approved a tested casework policy in April of 2019.

The “Letter Accepting Variation” (Because Perfection is Elusive)

There was a period in the history of AWI’s Quality Certification Program (QCP) when there were only two possible outcomes for architectural woodwork which was required to be certified, and simultaneously subject to inspection by QCP representatives.  Those outcomes were:

  1. Full certification of the project, based on zero outstanding nonconforming items after final inspection.
  2. No certification of the project, if inspector noted even one or two relatively minor nonconforming items outstanding.

About six years ago, the QCP Board of Directors recognized that consequences for the woodworker which resulted from the second outcome could be disproportionate in projects where the nonconforming items were generally considered to be minor in nature, and the large preponderance of woodwork provided was conforming overall.  Also noted was the lack of opportunity for the architect or owner to weigh in regarding whether the issues, although technically nonconforming relative to contract documents, might in fact adequately meet the design intent and the owner’s needs.  Accordingly, in addition to “Full” certification, a new type of possible outcome was added to published QCP Policies:  the “Limited” certification.

“Letter Accepting Variance” (LAV) was the mechanism QCP created to allow the architect (or project owner) to override a QCP inspector’s “nonconforming” determination for any individual line item of a QCP inspection report.  Current QCP Policies (June 2019) define the LAV as:  

“A letter from the Design Professional or the project owner’s appointed representative stating that nonconformities noted during the inspection do not require correction, thus accepting those Variations from project contract documents and the Standards.”

This process is really nothing more than a specialized “RFI” dialogue, with all communication typically routed through the general contractor.  The woodworker elicits the architect’s acceptance of a selected nonconforming item or items, providing supporting information or documents which may facilitate the architect’s consideration of the request.  If the architect agrees to accept any reported nonconforming item, his/her assent must be explicit and in writing.  There is no LAV “form”.  The documents exchanged are usually simple emails.

Once the LAV is received from the architect (via the general contractor), the woodworker then sends it directly to the QCP inspector.  The inspector updates QCP records to note any nonconforming item or items resolved by the LAV.  During the post-inspection back-and-forth, there could be multiple LAV requests sent by the woodworker to the architect.  Some may be accepted, and some rejected.  A nonconforming item for which the woodworker’s LAV request is rejected remains nonconforming, and requires an alternate means of resolution.  For any inspected project which is certified, if even one nonconformance was resolved by an LAV, the project receives “Limited”, rather than “Full”, Certification. The text of the physical “Limited Certificate” sent to the woodworker reflects that designation, and the “Limited Certificate” is visually differentiated from “Full” certificates.  However, from QCP’s standpoint, a specification’s requirement for project certification is satisfied by either a “Full” or a “Limited” certification.  But…

There are administrative consequences for a woodworker who submits an architect’s Letter Accepting Variance to a QCP inspector.  Current QCP Policies (June 2019) state:

“ – Completed projects resulting in the issuing of a Letter Accepting Variations (LAV) will result in the licensee’s certification status being changed to ‘Probationary’. “

When a specific product or installation category is found to be nonconforming during a QCP project inspection, and that nonconformance is ultimately resolved by the architect’s or owner’s “Letter Accepting Variance”, then any of the woodworker’s future “QCP” projects is potentially subject to inspection IF that project’s scope includes the category of product or installation which was the subject of the LAV in the prior project.  Even “self-labeling” projects that would not typically be inspected are candidates for Probationary inspection.  The product or installation categories that appear in project inspection reports correspond to QCP’s list of available licenses. The Probationary status for a specific product or work category ends when the woodworker achieves conformance for that item in any of its future QCP inspected projects.  Appropriate project(s) for Probationary inspection are chosen by QCP staff.  The woodworker is responsible for the cost of any Probationary inspections.

Shows Leary, QCP Rep Since 1996

Second in a series of profiles about Quality Certification Program Representatives – links in the field between QCP Licensees and the Quality Certification Corporation.

Shows Leary has a rich history of involvement in the millwork and construction industries dating back to 1968. He learned how to build a house under his grandfather’s watchful eyes, having worked since he was 13-years old for the patriarch’s home building business. Basically, Shows has been in the industry for most of his life.

Over the years, Shows worked for various trades, but his love of millwork landed him employment in several architectural woodwork shops for 15 years, including that of Lee Biagiotti (1991-92 AWI President). Conversations between the two men led to discussions about architectural woodwork standards and the quality of work in the industry.  As a founder of the Quality Certification Program, Lee invited Shows to be a QCP inspector around the time Shows was establishing a construction management company in 1996.

In addition to his inspection work for QCP, Shows still maintains two businesses: 1) a construction management company that provides consultation to schools for their building projects; and 2) Shows Leary Millwork Management, with a mission of helping woodworkers, owners and architects design and fabricate the best possible millwork projects. 

Career with QCP:  A QCP Rep’s primary responsibility is to inspect millwork fabrication and installation to assure it conforms with AWI Standards, whether they be specified according to Quality Standards Illustrated, the Architectural Woodwork Standards or the new ANSI / AWI Standards

Shows has a unique perspective about architectural woodwork standards.  He served on the tripartite Joint Standards Committee for five years, working with AWI, AWMAC, and WI industry representatives on the Architectural Woodwork Standards.

His desire to know the standards – inside and out – significantly advanced his expertise.  He has written all of tests for QCP Licensee applicants to take to gain their initial licensing, and he wrote the test for the drafting accreditation.  Currently, Shows is drafting tests for Licensees to learn the new ANSI / AWI Standards.

Territory: Northeast

Projects Inspected:  many schools and courthouses, and a reasonable number of healthcare facilities. Projects also include a large number of one-offs for the commercial market, and high-end residential projects in Manhattan.  Since 1996, Shows estimates he has performed about 2,000 individual inspections that include multiple inspections for many projects.

Contact Information: 518-482-3222,

Personal:  Shows resides in Grafton, NY with his wife Robin of 26 years.  The couple has three children and four grandchildren.  About five nights a week, Shows practices and plays music with six different bands.  He and his electric bass are well-known by regional music fans who enjoy the bands’ bluegrass, country, rock and jazz specialties. Shows is also an avid mountain biker.

Technology Has Revolutionized the Industry

Shows Leary is featured in this edition of Quality Times and is profiled in “QCP Rep Spotlight.”  While sharing his industry experience with QT, he passed along his observations about notable changes in the architectural woodwork industry and QCP over the years.

Shows has seen AWI Standards change over the years, starting with his grandfather who consulted The Millwork Cost Book, iterations of the AWI Quality Standards Illustrated, the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS), and now ANSI / AWI Standards.  “I see a variety of specifications,” said Shows.  “Architects often don’t update the woodwork standards language in their specifications.

Shows said, “Perhaps the most far-reaching changes that impact our lives in terms of time and cost savings result from technological developments. For instance, when I began as a QCP Rep, we hand wrote one-to-two-page reports, all of which currently are typed and sent electronically with relevant photos using our Tablets.”

The advent of computer-controlled machinery in shops has exploded.  “When I first started in the industry, no one had heard of a CNC; we cut wood using table saws and the like.  When I started working in Project Management, we did all the tracking by hand, including shop drawings.”  Computers freed up time, so that shops could submit more bids and were awarded with more fabrication work. according to Shows.

Now, QCP inspections sometimes are being conducted using video technology, another time and cost-saving practice for many projects.

Learn More About QCP at Events & on Social Media

The Quality Certification Program will be represented at the following industry events in 2020:

Construction Specifications Institute
Construct AEC Education & Expo 2020

Sept. 30 – Oct. 2
Gaylord Texan Resort
Grapevine, TX
QCP Booth: 629

Architectural Woodwork Institute
68th AWI Annual Convention
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2
Resort at Squaw Creek
Lake Tahoe, CA


Architectural woodwork is showcased on the following social media platforms, incorporating woodwork projects illustrated in editions of AWI’s quarterly journal, Design Solutions. See the following:

Get Help, Find Answers

Need help with inspection preparation?  Confused about licensing?  Seeking answers to challenging aspects of the Architectural Woodwork Standards?  Turn to QCP Resources to enhance your participation in the Quality Certification Program.