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By: Jimmy Monahan

March 30th, 2022

Completing the design is the next installment in the Large Complex series; this is a follow-up to our “Project Planning” and “FISP Inspection” articles published last year. The design phase typically starts after the FISP inspections have been conducted for all of the buildings, the capital improvement plan has been established, and a construction budget has been provided by the Owner and/or Board. 

The first step is to prioritize the building’s needs and scope of work. Does the building require façade repairs to satisfy FISP conditions or does it need a new roof due to ongoing water infiltration? Once these questions are answered, then it is time to go to the drawing board. A preliminary site visit will be performed to obtain field data and measurements in order to create a roof and elevation set of drawings for each building on the schedule for that year. This step can be shortened or eliminated if the Owner already has a set of elevation drawings. Once the fieldsets are ready, we will conduct research on each building before starting the design. We will research past repair projects, previous cycle FISP reports, and review any leak investigations performed at the buildings. This information is crucial, as it will help us address all deficiencies at the building. Our Team typically delineates the repairs into separate categories such as leaks repairs, FISP work, and additional recommended repairs. 

Large complexes completing the design blog

After the historical information is collected and updated on the drawings, we will begin to schedule the field inspections for design with our project team and with our Client. Access to all vantage points, roofs, courtyards, and other locations will be required to conduct a proper investigation. Planning and scheduling access and inspections for multiple buildings can become much more involved than that for a singular building. Additionally, we will need to coordinate internally to establish a budget and deadline for the designs to be completed. One of the greatest challenges for completing design projects at large complexes is coming in under budget and on time. A great deal of coordination, organization and follow-through are necessary to bring the design through data collection, CAD production, and technical review. The key to success is to set tasks and milestones for each project, track them, and stick to them, all while maintaining clear communication with our clients to provide them updates on the design and project execution.

After the field information is collected, our Building Envelope Consultants will modify the drawings accordingly with our CAD team and establish a scope of work for each building. A crucial element in this process is to ensure that we are utilizing the same designations, wording, and formatting for all repairs, details, and scope items. Deviation between drawings can lead to confusion for the Contractor and create a headache for all parties during the bidding and construction phases of the projects; more on these topics will be addressed in subsequent articles. After the scope of work is finalized for each project, we curate the specification package to complement the drawings. 

After all of this is completed, our office will build a construction budget and estimate for each building and compile it into a master spreadsheet for the Client. This important information will give the Client an idea of expected costs compared to the preliminary budget, as well as will lay down the foundation for the next phase of bidding. 

Having the right processes and personnel in place is important for all projects, but especially for multiple building projects. If you don’t, seemingly trivia; problems can multiply and spin out of control. Conducting multiple site visits at numerous buildings, storing and managing the drawing markups, identifying the scope of work for each building, and tracking the repair costs can feel overwhelming; that feeling can be compounded if there are multiple people performing these tasks concurrently. If you have processes in place, all parties will uniformly perform the work, which ensures that your individual designs, overall goals, and theme of the design package accurately come to fruition.

After the drawings have been created, the designs will go through a thorough quality control review and vetting process. It is also pivotal to ensure that all reviews are incorporated and captured by the CAD production team. Upon completion of this step, the drawings will be ready for bidding and the pre-construction meetings. 

The last step in managing the designs of concurrent projects is to monitor the schedule and progressions of each step in the process. If specific steps start to drag and are delayed, adjustments must be made to correct the course for the overall project deadline. It is essential that we keep our clients up to date regularly throughout the design phase to determine if there are any changes in their schedules or needs. If you are regularly communicating with and updating your Clients, then you are in a better position to change course more swiftly without a significant effect on resources, should a change be required. 

Organization, planning, and follow-through are the pillars in successfully completing multiple designs simultaneously, all while remaining on schedule. The next topic to be highlighted will be the challenges faced during the bidding process upon completion of the design phase. If you require assistance in addressing the multiple projects at your large complexes, please reach out to your local Building Envelope Consultant. 

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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.

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