Benefits of Hiring a Building Envelope Consultant

Benefits of Hiring a Building Envelope Consultant


Successful Building Envelope Project with a Consultant

Engaging a building envelope consultant is like working with a professional trainer to achieve your fitness goals. He’s an expert in his craft who knows what it takes to succeed and how to ensure the objective is achieved in an optimal way.

What is holding you back from considering the use of a building enclosure professional? Building owners may not even consider using a building envelope consultant because they don’t understand the value brought to the table, but there are many benefits to hiring a building enclosure professional.

Building Envelope Consultants Deliver Appropriate Design Solutions

The primary benefit of using a building envelope consultant is the thoughtful and site-specific design solutions they can deliver to clients. Without a consultant, unintentional design flaws are a common issue when designing repair, replacement and/or remediation projects. This can lead to an array of issues, including water intrusion, structural instability, etc., resulting in the potential for litigation.

Paul Ridley, author of “Designerless Roofs – Who has Liability for Faulty Design,” writes:

“When a building owner forgoes use of an independent design professional, he increases the risk that the roof will not meet his requirements concerning performance, cost, appearance or longevity. This is because critical choices of materials and design of details will be made by someone whose principal role or financial interest is selling materials or installing a roof, not the provision of design services.”

So, without a building envelope specialist to provide appropriate design, the building owner could be left stranded if something fails prematurely.

Designs require a detailed perspective and mistakes made during the design stage of the project will be carried over to the actual construction. Building envelope consultants are trained to look at the building holistically and can factor in elements that may not be apparent in the project scope.

For example, a building has two roof sections, but the owner only wants to work on Section A. The building envelope specialist should factor in Section B’s drainage locations and capabilities when delivering an appropriate design for Section A. The primary goal of a building envelope consultant is to avoid unnecessary costs during construction, and this starts at the design stage.

Building Enclosure Consultants Assure Accountability

Managing Risk and Reward: How much risk do you want to assume as a building owner?

Accountability ensures that the project is executed effectively. Unless the Owner is familiar with building envelope science and standards to make sure there is quality workmanship and accurate construction sequencing, he could be given a finished product that is sufficient on the surface but apt to fail prematurely. Building envelope consultants provide quality observation time to clients to ensure that projects are completed to the designed specifications and per industry standards.

Accountability also comes into play when choosing materials and products. Building envelope consultants are familiar with building codes and energy standards as defined by the local and national code jurisdictions. Certain materials simply perform better than others, and it’s best to understand what might work practically in a specific geographic region, and for that specific facility.

When it comes time for the design to be implemented, building envelope consultant can perform quality observation during the construction phase. Contractors can be master tradesmen and provide excellent workmanship, but even the best can use a little outside input. As times have changed, we have seen a shift in the labor force that has prompted the use of building enclosure consultants in a more active construction observation role. This collaboration ensures that the Owner is given an exceptional product.

Building Envelope Consultants Create Competitive Bids

Utilizing a building enclosure specialist generates competitive offers in the bid process. As was mentioned, a primary benefit is the design solutions building envelope consultants provide. This design details what the problem is, what the solution will be and how to carry out the installation. Without that focal point, the Owner may not know what he wants. If he goes direct to contractors, the owner may get quotes and proposals ranging from A-Z that may or may not actually solve the problem. Some contractors and manufacturers have the reputation of including fine print legal language along the lines of the following to avoid liability:

“Please know that [EXAMPLE] is not an architect, engineering or design professional, and consequently assumes no responsibility for any such services.”

But if a building envelope consultant is engaged in the process, the Owner should be provided quality design documents that eliminate ambiguous liability verbiage.

The pre-bid meeting is an opportunity to further examine the bidding documents, to review the scope of work with the designer, to ask appropriate bidding questions and to review the existing site conditions. The contractors then offer competitive bids, and the Owner is provided solicitations that are competitive in nature.

Building Envelope Consultants Navigate Warranty Difficulties

Who is responsible for what?

The terms of the warranty can be confusing. They are often framed as a legal document with exclusionary language and requirements that the Owner must abide to. Typically, with roofs, warranties are issued by manufacturers (and in some cases the installing contractor) after their technicians have confirmed the roof passes minimal industry standards. However, some companies assume roles as both manufacturer and contractor and without a building envelope consultant, there may not be the necessary checks and balances in place to ensure quality craftmanship before issuing a warranty. This can force the facility owner into a cycle of sub-par work and lowered expectations. Using a building envelope consultant helps avoids this pitfall.

Contractor warranties typically last anywhere from one (1) to two (2) years. Something we see happen is that when the contractor warranty expires, the building envelope system hasn’t been assessed since installation. But because the contractor warranty is now ineffective, many issues lurking that would have been the contractor’s responsibility are now left to be negotiated with the manufacturer or left to the owner to conduct the appropriate repair work. We delve into warranty management with more depth in “Address Issues, Make Claims and Get the Most Out of Your Comprehensive Warranty Management.”

When it comes to building envelope projects, we like to visualize a three-legged stool. The three legs represent product, design and installation. When working in tandem, the finished project stands on its own, and the Owner should be receiving a complete project. When one or more is absent, the risk of a premature failure or significant building envelope issue is bound to occur.

Technical Assurance is committed to delivering excellent design and construction services, maximizing your building assets’ service life; it’s in our best interested to ensure that your project is a lifecycle cost success. If you are interested in partnering with a building envelope consultant for your next project, connect with us today.