What’s Next When Your Building Condition Has Been Assessed

What's Next When Your Building Condition Has Been Assessed

Weather events such as hail storms, high winds and flooding, or simple wear and tear can cause building deterioration. The condition may first become noticeable because of a resulting leak or other consequence. A common first step is to call in a contractor, perhaps a roofer, to stop the leak. However, it’s common for the problem to recur, because the actual extent or point of entry from the exterior may not have been immediately evident or properly diagnosed. This is often when forensic consultants are called upon to provide building condition assessments. Having the technical knowledge of both building enclosure rehabilitation and design provides the unique qualifications to assess the condition and recommend appropriate repairs. Calling upon a qualified consultant at the initial onset of a leak or other building condition often saves the client time and frustration.

In many cases, forensic consultants may conduct performance testing to identify the precise nature and causation of the condition. For instance, water spray testing is commonly used to identify the source of leaks, which often do not originate from where the water condition appears. This process helps to determine if further selective invasive investigation or destructive testing is required to more accurately assess the condition. This may also reveal the existing construction and details the process necessary to integrate the existing systems with the new repair design.

After completing the onsite condition assessment, the forensic consultant prepares a detailed report known as a Building Condition Assessment. The report is then submitted to the client for follow up action. Consultant involvement over? No.

A Common Damage Assessment Pitfall

Clients often use the condition assessment to solicit contractor bids, a process that could expose many pitfalls.

  1. The client and contractor are now essentially managing the project for which they may or may not be suitably qualified due to the complex forensic nature of the project.
  2. The client bears the burden of facilitating a process they may not have time to fully attend to.
  3. The client takes on the added stress of contacting and evaluating contractors, some of whom may bid low and upcharge during the project.

As forensic consultants, we often hear from clients who realize that they were ill-equipped to adequately address the requirements of managing building repairs. Due to various unknowns that are common with the repair and rehabilitation of existing buildings, what appears initially as a simple fix can quickly become a complex undertaking. Part of Pie’s job, therefore, is to facilitate the process to make the best use of the clients’ time and resources.

Post Assessment Services

Once the building owner has the condition assessment report, the next advantageous step is to proceed with post-assessment consulting services. The services provided generally include design and construction phase tasks as part of an overall quality assurance program.

During design, the forensic consultant serves as the Designer of Record (DOR) in preparing repair design documents. Creating the design documents is often an ongoing process. Ideally, all known conditions would be defined during the assessment. However, on existing buildings, extensive investigation in the early stages is often not practical to inform repairs. Therefore, it is typical that as the repairs progress and more conditions are discovered the designs and materials are adjusted accordingly. In such cases, the client is always informed of progress throughout the process.  Additionally, the consultant can evaluate contractor bids and manage the entire repair program.

During construction, the DOR will facilitate the following quality assurance tasks:

  • Submittal and shop drawing review – confirms alignment with the design package and specifications.
  • Team coordination meetings – ensures all team members are communicating and are clear on project expectations and schedules.
  • Design and observation of an on-site mock – educates the contractor and sub-contractors in order to ensure that products are installed accurately and in accordance with product warranties.
  • Quality assurance observations and reports – informs all affected parties and alerts the contractor to correct any inconsistencies that may have occurred due to deviation from the issued repair documents.
  • Field testing – verifies performance of installed systems.

Building Condition Assessments will always provide the most comprehensive analysis of what is happening with your building. Ultimately, the type of services that follow determine whether a long-term repair has been accomplished.

For more information on condition assessments, building cost consulting, design and construction phase services, contact Pie Consulting & Engineering today.

Ameeta Hemmadi, Architect, LEED AP (BD+C)

About the Author

Ameeta has been involved in design, production of construction documents, and consultant coordination for multifamily projects, medical buildings and commercial buildings since 1999. She has been licensed for 12 years in the State of Texas and LEED AP since 2004. She has been involved with site planning, building design, code research, accessibility, permitting process, bidding and construction administration – including all phases of construction until procuring certificate of occupancy. She has been working on multifamily clubhouse/ leasing office renovations and dialysis clinics for the past three years. Her experience includes masonry, siding, and metal panels for low and mid-rise buildings