By: Madelin Mule
March 30th, 2022
Oftentimes, the Engineer/Architect developing the scope of work for an exterior restoration project will include required base bid line items, as well as what we call “allowance quantities” for certain work items. An allowance quantity is a scope of work item for a specified quantity that has not yet been allocated to the project but has been included in the Contract Total Sum to be allocated during the construction administration.
Typically, the design professional will perform an investigative inspection of a building to locate the main deteriorated conditions for repair. However, they may not have full access to all elevations or areas of a building during their initial investigation. It is possible that, even with access to all elevations, there is a limited visual of the facades from the ground floor. There may also be concealed conditions that can only be discovered once demolition begins during construction. Allowances quantities are included on the proposal form of a building envelope restoration project to account for these potential work items that will likely be discovered once a Contractor is fully mobilized. For bidding purposes, the Contractors will include pricing for the specified allowance quantities providing the Owner of the building with clarity on the anticipated project total cost.
During construction, the building envelope consultant will perform initial observations along all mobilized elevations which allows for clear close-up views of the existing conditions. Any previously unseen conditions that are recommended and approved for repair, can then be included in the project scope, quantified, and considered an allowance. For example, there may be deteriorated stone units on an upper floor along an elevation that is adjacent to another building. A visual of an area such as this is typically limited from the street level during investigative design inspections. Another case that may warrant the use of allowance quantities are concealed conditions. Perhaps the backup brick masonry wall is in poor condition and requires repair. This condition would not be observed until the Contractor is mobilized and removes the outer wythe of masonry on that building.
Sullivan Engineering, A Rimkus Company continually tracks any allowance quantities that are identified during site inspections and provides a summary in chart format on each field report that is issued. Tracking the quantities in this manner allows for all parties (Owner and Contractor) to be aware of the quantities used to date, as well as the remaining allowances. It is possible that not all allowance quantities are utilized at the end of a project. When this occurs, the Contractor’s payment application is typically billed to 100%, allowance amounts included, and is then followed by a credit to the Building Owner for the dollar amount of allowance work that was not performed. There are also instances where the allowance quantities are exceeded. This scenario typically results in a single change order for the additional repair work required.
Allowance quantities are crucial to moving a project along smoothly. Without these contingency quantities, many change orders would likely occur to cover each additional work item. The Engineer would identify additional repairs and request a proposal from the Contractor. This would then be approved by the building consultant and Owner, at which point the official change order would be requested. The Contractor would not likely be authorized to perform the additional work until this official AIA document is approved by both the design professional and building Ownership, inevitably increasing the duration of construction while adding unforeseen costs.