7 Reasons to Hire a Building Envelope Consultant
In: Blog Featured Home Portfolio Management Project Oversight
Whether planning for new construction or trying to extend the life of an old building, there are endless considerations to keep in mind for a successful project and sustainable building envelope. Not to mention the struggle that often ensues between facility management and financial teams to approve any necessary work can further complicate matters. Building envelope consultants provide expertise and creative solutions on the best ways to manage building enclosures. Consultants help identify and prioritize issues in an unbiased way so that clients can feel confident discussing an objective plan of action with their financial team.
If that kind of assurance alone isn’t enough to convince you to partner with a building envelope consultant, we’ve compiled the top seven reasons below.
1. The Building Envelope is a Critical Barrier
Simply put, the building envelope is the boundary between the interior and the exterior, consisting of the façade and roof systems. It provides layers of protection and helps maintain the integrity of the structure while keeping out air and water. Often overlooked, the building envelope is vital to the performance, efficiency and overall well-being of a facility.
The building envelope has three basic components:
- Air Barrier – Primarily used to stop air leakage and help maintain a consistent indoor climate
- Weather Barrier – Made of protective layers that lead the fight against moisture penetration
- Heat or Thermal Barrier – Designed to protect the interior of a building from materials that could be flammable in a fire situation. A thermal barrier delays the rise in heat of insulated materials.
The term building envelope also incorporates appearance, structure and security. With a strong building envelope, you can maintain a dry, cooled or heated indoor environment and also facilitate proper climate control.
Water intrusion is the most common and destructive issue for the structural integrity of a building. Hiring a qualified building envelope consultant offers reasonable assurance against problems and pitfalls developing before, during and after construction.
2. Assess Envelope Performance
Skilled in design, inspection and testing, consultants can perform condition assessments and investigations of envelope performance problems. These assessments determine a condition baseline of your asset(s), which determines the course of action for repair, remedial design and/or management of replacement or rehabilitation projects and programs. Technical Assurance takes it a step further; we possess specialized engineering knowledge for the effective integration and continuity of air, water and thermal barriers for below and above grade structures.
Because the building envelope comprises 20% or more of total construction expenses and a shocking 80% of construction defect claims, it’s important to have a partner on your side focused on balancing overall cost with performance. Our goal at Technical Assurance is to help clients achieve budget, design and performance targets simultaneously so that you don’t have to prioritize budget over quality.
3. Independent Representation
Consultants serve as independent representation, offering solutions for the clients’ best interest. They have no obligation to manufacturers or contractors. Cost-effective solutions are typically a client’s chief concern, and consultants know that proactively solving issues will save money in the long term.
Problems that result from inadequate integration and continuity of water, air and thermal barriers often also increase ongoing operational, maintenance and repair costs. Technical Assurance’s programmatic approach allows multi-facility managers to prioritize issues and allocate resources in the most effective ways.
Not only do building envelope consultants have no obligation to manufacturers and contractors, but we also play an unbiased role in the relationship between facility managers and financial departments. We can help you make a case for what you’re spending with irrefutable, engineered data that will bolster your cause with a solid financial plan. When it feels like you’re speaking two different languages and not agreeing on the most valid way to spend your budget, we can act as a bridge to connect the two objectives and come up with the most cost-effective solution.
4. An Interconnected, Expert Team
Just like building envelope systems are interconnected, so too are the resources you’ll get in a consulting firm like Technical Assurance. Our diverse team is made up of engineers, roof/façade experts, architects, project and program and autoCAD professionals all under one roof who have a deep understanding of how a building envelope should work together seamlessly. This means that we are not only able to help you identify issues, but also provide comprehensive solutions that you don’t have to second guess.
5. Enhanced Ventilation and Insulation
Second only to waterproofing, the building’s ventilation and insulation are the most important factors in a healthy building envelope. Sound building enclosure prevents air leaks, which affect air quality and efficiency. Air infiltration and exfiltration, along with unmitigated heat transfer, can lead to poor energy performance and increased costs to the building owner. Insulation within the walls, roofs, windows and attic optimize temperature retention and provide another layer of protection from outside.
Partnering with a building envelope consultant before new building construction gives you assurance that quality materials are being prioritized—down to the insulation level. But it’s not too late when dealing with an existing structure with poor insulation. What was a missed opportunity in original design and construction can be rectified during repair and replacement projects under the guidance of an experienced building envelope specialist.
6. New Construction Experts
When constructing a building, having a consultant on hand is a vital addition. Building envelope consultants:
- Avoid Construction Pitfalls – Avoid design problems prior to construction, providing an expert eye to review and explain. Consultants know the best material selection and can propose the most adequate selection. Building envelope failures are a leading cause for construction litigation, but the consultants’ thoughtful and creative insight throughout the construction process help clients avoid those potential pitfalls.
- Ensure a Unified Building Envelope System – They ensure unified and continuous building envelope systems. Consultants synchronize project design and construction phase documents to ensure unified integration of building enclosure systems.
- Offer Superior Construction Coordination and Supervision – Support is provided for construction coordination, field issues are resolved quickly and delays are minimized due to anticipated issues.
7. Sustain for the Future
To sustain the building’s integrity, it is recommended to undergo periodic maintenance and assessments with the consultants. This investment allows for early detection to avoid major damage before a little issue escalates to larger, catastrophic problems.
A proactive plan can show cause for repairing something today to extend life and ultimately lowering total cost of ownership of assets. An initial assessment combined with ongoing preventative maintenance helps keep critical repairs top of mind and first in line for budget approval.
For example, water leaks that have been ignored will continue to wreak havoc on the building envelope. Any issues that result from inadequate integration and continuity of water, air and thermal barriers also increase ongoing operational, maintenance and repair costs. Our team of experts use ASTM and AAMA test methods for finding leaks preemptively so that we can resolve issues quickly and thoroughly.
Partner with Technical Assurance
When you know there are issues with your building envelope (either the façade or the roof) but don’t know where to start, your first step is to request a free consultation with our team.
Our initial assessment of your existing building envelope or review of new construction drawings can open up opportunities to catch small issues before they become larger, make suggestions for improvement, and ultimately ensure you have a sustainable building envelope that keeps a low cost of ownership.