Application Process | Program Participation | Project Certification | Transition to the AWS
1. What is the difference between "Certified" and "Accredited?"
People or products can be certified. Examples include certified mechanics, certified physicians, certified parts, etc. Companies, however, cannot be certified. They, instead, can be accredited. This means they are empowered to certify that its products meet certain criteria.
Companies which have been accredited by the AWI Quality Certification Program (QCP), are thus eligible to certify that its projects conform to their respective specifications and the referenced standards. Hence the company is accredited; the project is certified.
2. How do I become accredited?
Woodworking firms that want to become Q-accredited must apply to the program and complete a specific series of steps designed to evaluate their ability to fabricate, finish and/or install architectural woodwork that meets the quality standards set forth in the Architectural Woodwork Standards (Standards). The steps include:
Submission of the application form and fee
Successful completion of the two tests (minimum score of 130 or higher on the Standards test, and a minimum score of 60 or higher on the QCP Policies test)
Submission of 10 references
The successful plant inspection of samples and two project inspections. Click here for more on these steps.
3. How much does it cost to become accredited?
The application fee is $1,800 for woodworking firms that are manufacturing members of AWI (Architectural Woodwork Institute.) The application fee for all others is $3,100.
4. Why should a woodworking firm become accredited?
Q-accreditation enables a woodworking firm to certify a project. Accreditation essentially verifies that a woodworking firm has demonstrated that it is competent to fabricate, finish and/or install architectural woodwork in compliance with the quality-grades set forth in the Standards. It is a quality assurance tool that provides an easy, cost-effective way to gain a competitive advantage over your competition.
5. How long does it take to become accredited?
Applicants are allowed one year from their application date to complete the entire process. On average, the application process takes approximately 90 days to complete, but depends on a variety of factors.
6. Can the accreditation process be expedited?
The amount of time it takes to complete the application, test and references depends entirely on the applicant firm. Under normal circumstances, the QCC asks for four to six weeks between the completion of these steps and the plant inspection; however, depending on the availability of flights, the QCC can expedite the plant inspection if the applicant firm is willing to pay the higher costs associated with booking last-minute travel arrangements.
7. What type of references must I provide?
Applicant firms must submit ten trade references according to the following criteria:
At least two from general contractors
At least two from design professionals
At least two from owners.
The balance must come from any combination of design professionals, general contractors and/or owners.
All references must be completed using the reference form provided by the QCC.
8. What is a passing score on the tests?
A passing test score is 130 correct answers out of 150 total questions on the Standards test. A passing score on the Policies test is 60 correct answers out of 70 total questions.
9. What is the purpose of the two tests?
The purpose of the Standards test is to demonstrate the applicant's ability to utilize the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS). The test consists of 150 multiple choice questions. It is taken "open book" using the Standards as the sole reference. Applicants receive a complimentary copy of the AWS upon application to the program. In order to correctly answer each question, the applicant must choose the correct multiple choice answer, and cite the section of the AWS where the answer was found.
The purpose of the Policies test is to demonstrate the applicant's familiarity with the QCP policies. The test consists of 70 multiple choice questions. It is also taken "open book" using the QCP Policies as the sole reference. Applicants receive a copy of the QCP Policies upon application to the program. They can be downloaded here.
10. How long do the tests take?
This depends entirely on the person taking the test. Some people complete both tests within a day, but for others, it can take several weeks. The tests do not need to be completed in a single session. Applicants may log in and out as necessary while saving they answers as they go.
11. Who should take the tests?
The tests should be completed by a company representative responsible for the firm's compliance with the Standards. This may be a project manager, production manager, drafter, etc.
12. Is a paper or printed copy of the tests available?
No. All QCP tests must be taken online. This ensures randomized submittal of questions, accuracy in grading, and speed of response upon completion of the test.
13. What is the QCP representative looking for during the plant inspection?
During the plant inspection, a Q-representative (rep) will come to your plant to perform an inspection. The rep will confirm that your company meets the eligibility criteria and evaluate the applicant's ability to fabricate, finish and/or install architectural woodwork in accordance with the Standards. In general, your plant should be as organized and clean as possible.
During the plant inspection the Q-representative must see samples of work conforming to the sections and grades of the Standards for which you are seeking accreditation. For example, if your project requires certified premium-grade casework, you would need to show premium-grade casework samples during the plant inspection. Click here for the list of minimum sample criteria that need to be shown during the plant inspection.
14. How much does the plant inspection cost?
The cost of the plant inspection is included in the application fee.
15. What if I don't pass the plant inspection?
If the applicant firm does not pass the plant inspection, they may request a repeat inspection. The cost of the repeat inspection will be borne by the applicant. The application period is one full year. If an applicant has not completed all the steps required for accreditation within the year, yet wants to become Q-accredited, the firm must reapply to the program and start the entire application process from the beginning.
16. How long before my plant inspection will take place?
In general, we ask applicant firms to allow four to six weeks between the completion of the application, test and submission of references until the plant inspection. This allows the Q- representatives ample time to make travel arrangements and work the inspection into their busy schedules.
17. Can an AWI supplier bid on a QCP project or does this require QCP participation?
QCC does not limit anyone's ability to bid any project. However, only accredited QCP participants are eligible to provide QCP labels and/or certificates certifying that the work complies with the Standards and/or the project specifications. Similarly, AWI suppliers are eligible to certify a project as long as they're accredited by the QCP. Click here to access the application form.
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18. What is the renewal process? How do I maintain my company's accreditation in the program?
All Q-accredited firms are required to renew their accreditation annually. Firms will be invoiced for the renewal in November of each year. Payment in full prior to December 31 is required.
QCP Participants must submit to testing and inspections every three years (triennially). Failure to successfully complete the tests and/or pass the triennial inspection may be grounds for a company's accreditation to be revoked.
19. My company just got its certificate. Do we have to pay a full year's renewal fee?
No. Newly accredited firms will pay the prorated renewal amount which will extend their participation in the program from their expiration date until December 31.
20. Is there a grace period if I don't pay the renewal fee on time?
Renewal payments submitted (either postmarked or paid online) after midnight, EST, December 31, are subject to a $300 late fee. Renewals will no longer be accepted after January 31 of each year. Any firm failing to renew will be automatically resigned from the program. Firms wishing to be reinstated to the program must reapply to the program and start the entire application process from the beginning.
21. What happens if my accreditation lapses and I need to certify another project later on?
If an accredited firm fails to renew its accreditation by the January 31 cutoff, the company will become inactive and is required to reapply to the program if it needs to certify a project at a later date. Reapplication involves paying the application fee ($1,800 AWI members; $3100 non-members), completing the test, references, and plant and project inspections again. Click here for a complete list of the application steps.
22. What does the triennial inspection process entail exactly?
A Q-representative will re-visit the plant, and perform a site inspection of a completed, or nearly completed certified project. Prior to the plant visit and site inspection, the Q-Representative will review the shop drawings. Unless the project is one of the participant's first two provisional projects, the fabrication phase of the project will not be inspected in the plant. The certified project must demonstrate compliance with the contract documents, and at minimum, AWI custom-grade standards. The shop drawings must be in conformance with Section 1 of the current Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS). Click here to download additional information on the triennial inspection process.
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23. How do I certify a project?
The first step is to register the project. To register, simply click here and complete the online form. Next, if you require a project inspection, contact the QCC office four to six weeks prior to beginning fabrication of the project. We will set up an inspection while the project is in fabrication.
If your firm has achieved self-labeling status, you simply need to order labels and /or certificates of compliance at least two weeks prior to commencing fabrication.
24. How much does it cost to certify a project?
The cost to certify a project is 1/2 of one percent of the total cost of the project or a minimum of $500.
25. How long does it take to certify a project?
The length of time it takes to certify a project varies widely. For example, if the woodworking firm has not yet completed the first two project inspections, as required by program policies, firms should factor in approximately four to six weeks to schedule the project inspection.
26. What is the difference between project labels and certificates of compliance?
Project labels are designed to be placed on your product. A certificate of compliance is a letter to the architect indicating that your work on the registered project is compliant. Certificates can be used in lieu of labels when labels would be visually intrusive. Copies of the project certificate may be given to all members of the construction team. You may order as many project certificates or as many product labels as you like.
27. Who is eligible to sign the Certificates of Compliance?
Any employee of your company who has successfully completed the QCP's written tests of the Standards and the Policies within the last three years, or within six months of the respective publications' latest release, whichever is more recent.
28. Can a QCP project be split up into several different disciplines or are QCP projects to be single source?
Yes. A QCP Project may be split up into different disciplines by registering and certifying each portion of a project separately. A single project may have one woodworker fabricating the wood doors, another fabricating modular cabinets, a third fabricating rail and trim, and a forth company installing the project. Each portion of work would have a unique QCP Project number and require a separate project fee.
A single contract is not eligible for splitting into multiple projects. However, if a project is awarded to a primary contract holder, who then subcontracts portions of the work to other QCP accredited firms, the subcontracted work would be eligible for certification as a separate project.
29. If an AWI supplier bids on a QCP project and gets the project are their vendors required to be QCP accredited? If the vendor is not QCP accredited, who is required to comply with the standards and QCP policies?
QCP accredited firms are permitted to certify outsourced work providing:
- They have direct contractual responsibility for the outsourced work; and,
- The outsourced work falls within the AWS sections for which the participant is accredited
30. Can any woodworking firm certify a project?
Only accredited woodworking firms are eligible to certify projects.
31. Can any project be certified in the QCP?
Only projects that include the QCP specification language in the contract documents (i.e. Divisions 6, 8, 9 and/or 12 of the project specifications can be certified. Click here to view the spec. language.
32. Can I certify a project that was not registered?
No. Projects must be registered prior to fabrication to qualify for certification.
33. Why do I have to register my project?
Project registration allows QCP to verify the validity of the specification and the woodworker's accreditation. This helps ensure the certification procedure works smoothly.
34. How do I register a project?
Simply click here to complete the project registration form online. There is no cost to register a project.
35. When should I register my project?
Register your QCP-specified project in the design, bid or shop drawing stage to avoid last minute confusion. Remember, it must be registered prior to the beginning of fabrication.
36. Who may register a project?
The design professional, the specifier, anyone bidding the project such as a general contractor or the woodworker, or the company to whom the project was awarded to, may register the project.
37. Does my project require inspection by the QCP?
All Q-accredited firms must have their first two QCP projects inspected as part of the accreditation process. Once that has been accomplished successfully, a project inspection is not necessary, although it is always available upon request to any member of the construction team.
38. How much does a project inspection cost?
Project compliance inspections may be ordered at the request of any member of the construction team; the costs are covered by the project certification fee.
39. When is the project inspection performed?
Project inspections must be conducted while the product is in fabrication at the shop. If certified installation is specified, a separate inspection must be performed at the job site.
40. What if I don't pass the project inspection?
If deficiencies are found during a project inspection, the accredited firm will receive a letter requesting an action plan to correct deficiencies to be submitted within ten days of receipt. Another inspection will occur to confirm deficiencies have been corrected, and will be performed at the expense of the accredited firm.
41. What is "self-labeling" status?
An accredited woodworking firm achieves self-labeling status after it has successfully completed two project inspections. Firms that are self-labeling can order project labels and/or certificates of compliance without having to undergo a project inspection. Nonetheless, despite self-labeling status, all certified projects may be subject to an inspection at anytime, and/or by request of any member of the project team.
42. What are the shop drawing requirements for certified projects requiring inspection?
First, send shop drawings, including documentation of any deviations from the standards or specifications, to your Q-representative for review prior to the inspection.
Second, note that deviations from the standards and specifications must be individually approved by the design professional (or the owner's representative) in writing, prior to fabrication (or inspection by a Q-representative where applicable). General acceptance of shop drawings does not qualify as acceptance of individual deviations. Deviations may be acknowledged in the form of a clouded detail on a shop drawing with space for initials or signature by the design professional to approve that particular detail.
Third, place the project certification label on the shop drawings to confirm that the project will comply with the AWI Quality Certification Program requirements. This label is made available to Q-accredited woodworkers upon payment for project labels and/or certificates of compliance.
Click here to download a quick reference guide to shop drawing requirements.
43. What are the shop drawing requirements?
Shop drawings for certified projects must conform to the Submittal requirements as noted in Section 1 of the AWS. Projects that specify the AWI Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI) shall be fabricated, finished, and installed as per the specifications; the drawings’ format, however, shall conform to the AWS, Section 1.
In addition, participants are required to successfully complete the QCP written tests (AWI Standards and QCP Policies) every three (3) years, or within 6 months of their respective release, whichever is most recent.
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Transition to the Architectural Woodwork Standards (AWS)
44. I'm bidding a project that references the latest (or current) edition of the Architectural Woodwork Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI) in the specifications. Now that the AWS is official, what standard do I use?
We encourage you to submit a Request for Information (RFI) to the architect to verify which standard, the QSI or the AWS, should be applied.
45. Prior to October 1, 2009, we submitted a bid for a project which referenced the latest (or current) edition of the Architectural Woodwork Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI) in the specifications. We have now been awarded the project. What standard applies?
If your contract documents are not clear on this matter, then you should submit an RFI. If you use the AWS as the referenced standard, yet the project was bid referencing the QSI, you may need to obtain a signed Change Order prior to proceeding.
46. We were originally evaluated when the Architectural Woodwork Quality Standards Illustrated (QSI) was the prevailing standard. Our triennial inspection is scheduled for sometime later this year. What standard will be used during the evaluation?
All plant inspections for new applicants and all triennial inspections for participants will be conducted using the AWS as the standard.
47. Will there be a paper version of the test?
No. All QCP tests must be taken online. This ensures randomized submittal of questions, accuracy in grading, and speed of response upon completion of the test.
48. We encourage our employees to take the test. Will it be possible to have them take the test simultaneously?
Yes, though not immediately. We are in the process of upgrading our testing capacity and expect this to be an option early in 2011.
49. Do you have a certificate for people who pass the test?
Yes. Your staff members who pass the test will receive certificates.
50. If I fail the test, can I take it again? Is there a waiting period? Will it cost extra to take it again?
You may certainly take the test again, and the waiting period is limited to the time it takes us to reset the system. There is no fee to take the QCP test.
51. Do you have any materials that will help me prepare for the tests?
The best materials are the QCP Policies manual and the AWS book themselves. Both tests are open book. For the Standards test, you will need to select the correct answer from the multiple choice list, and cite the section in which you found the answer.
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