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By: Thomas Khoudary

September 24, 2020

When we have the opportunity to sit down with our clients to review an exterior restoration project, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “when will the project start and how long do you expect the project will take?” Once the contract is signed, one may think it should only take the contractor a couple weeks to mobilize the necessary equipment and personnel to work. However, there’s a hidden timeline for pre-construction that includes potential delays that all buildings should be aware of. It is important to be aware of this timeline and to work with the Engineer or Architect of record to establish an accurate project schedule and understand the negative effects when projects are delayed.

Investigation and design, the first phases of a project, typically takes four to six weeks, depending on the size of the building and the conditions in need of repair or maintenance. This may seem like a long time, but the Building Envelope Consultant needs to perform a thorough examination to identify existing conditions, as well as deficiencies along elevations, roofs, terraces, and setbacks. These field notes, photos, and details are then provided to the CAD team to develop the scope of work and project drawings.

If a cursory investigation is performed or if the Engineer or Architect rushes through the investigation, this can result in missed information that could lead to project delays, increase in costs, and a difficult conversation with the Building Owner. A comprehensive investigation, including probes and up-close inspections from a platform lift or scaffold, will help develop a more realistic project schedule and budget. For example, if a Building Owner is moving forward with a roof replacement project and probes are not performed leading up to the work, unforeseen conditions such as asbestos might be present.  Asbestos testing and documentation for the DOB could delay the work four to six weeks for abatement and paperwork.

After the investigation is performed and the scope of work is reviewed with the Client, bidding and contractor selection services can commence; typically, takes an average of six to eight weeks to perform. It is important that the recommended qualified contractors have the necessary resources to assist and can develop a project schedule detailing their approach and the time frame for their completion. If a Client waits until the spring to select a contractor, there could be delays, as top qualified contractors might already be booked on other projects resulting in reassignments and the potential for increased labor costs based on availability.

A project schedule is a helpful tool to keep projects on track, within budget, and organized when keeping a record of soft costs such as scaffolding, site safety, and engineering fees.  It is important that a project schedule is reviewed weekly and construction administration services are performed regularly to hold all parties accountable during construction. If not, the project will run the risk for delays that can impact businesses located under pipe scaffolding, tenants from getting access to their balconies during the summer months, increase costs such as scaffolding rental fees and potential DOB violations/fines. If a project is pushed to the following calendar year, the overall cost of the project will soar even higher; on average, costs for labor, insurance premium, and professional engineering costs increase between five to ten percent annually.

Planning ahead and performing a comprehensive investigation will not only allow for a swift construction project and reduce the impact of common delays, but will significantly reduce the cost of the exterior restoration work. How to get ahead? Don’t wait until the spring to start the design process! Avoiding these delays and costs requires planning your project approximately two seasons ahead of time. If design and contractor selection occur in the fall or winter, top tear contractors will be available to assist, and filing and permitting can be accomplished in time to begin construction once weather permits in the spring.

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About Sullivan Engineering, A Rimkus Company

Sullivan Engineering provides high-quality building envelope restoration and compliance solutions.

We partner with facilities managers and account executives to provide technical expertise and project management for building envelope restoration, compliance, and maintenance.

Our solutions reduce the overall building life cycle maintenance costs by creating long-lasting, high-quality work for years to come.