By: Michael Frech
Building envelope restoration projects, including facade restoration or roof replacement,A oftenA involve an owner’s representative, a contractor and a consultant design professional. Some owners question the necessity of having a building envelope consultant on the project. They assume that a qualified contractor can easily ascertain the correct scope of work; this is not always the case. During my career, I have worked as an owner’s representative, a contractor and a consultant. I have come to understand that the proper dynamic between all of these involved parties is of the utmost importance to the success of a project.
If water is infiltrating their building, the damaged faAade is posing a safety risk, or a repair ordinance deadline is looming, ownersa representatives will reach out to contractors to discuss the remedial costs and options. The contractor knows that the owneras rep or potential client needs immediate service. He also assumes that more work to address other and/or future issues at the property will be forthcoming. Finally, he is certain that the opinions and proposals of other contractors are being solicited. This perspective may incentivize the contractor to provide a proposal for the least expensive, and likelyA least comprehensive repair plan. While the well-intentioned Owneras rep assumes that the contractors are proposing a correct and comprehensive scope of work, the contractors know that their best chance of being awarded the project, is to offer a minimalisticA scope of work so that the proposal number is less expensive and more attractive.
This flawed dynamic changes and everyoneas goals become more aligned when a consultant is involved. The consultant will represent the client and keep the owneras representativeas best interest in mind. The consultant will handle all aspects of the design, award and execution phases of the project. The consultant will work closely with the owneras rep to determine the most comprehensive scope that addresses not only the active leak or urgent facade issue, but the overall ahealtha of the entire building envelope as well. Design will focus on addressing the root causes of water infiltration, as well as addressing areas that may be of future concern.
Limited funds are a reality when it comes to building envelope maintenance and repair. A consultant can work with an owner’s rep to prioritize immediate concerns versus work that can be performed during a later phase. This scenario allows the owner’s rep to be completely informed of the necessary scope of work and helps them create a Capital Improvement Plan for the property.
Many contractors have stated that they are happier when a consultant is involved because they feel confident that all proposals will be based on the same scope of work. This allows for a true aapples to applesa comparison of all proposals. In addition, a consultant creates a transparent bid process that allows all parties to feel comfortable that all bids were received on time and are compared fairly and accurately.
Finally, there is the task of pairing a contractor with a project. During the design phase, a consultant works with owners, owner representatives, boards, committees, building departments, preservation organizations, sub-consultants, etc. They also have extensive experience working with contractors. This familiarity with people, personalities and the unique logistics of a project can make a design consultant valuable in matching a contractoras strengths with the particular demands of a building envelope restoration project.
Hiring a consultant creates the correct dynamic. The owner’s representative can feel confident that the immediate issues and long term health of the building are being addressed. Contractors can be assured that their proposals will be compared based on the same scope of work. This dynamic creates the groundwork for a successful project.