The Hidden Timeline of Preconstruction: It’s Smart to Plan Ahead
By: Mike Frech
The Board has approved the A/E Firm’s façade restoration and roof replacement proposal, and the Engineer’s contract has been executed. Board members are anticipating that scaffolding will be installed and construction crews will be on site prior to next month’s board meeting. The Project Engineer and Property Manager wish this was the case; however, a significant amount of work and procedures must be completed and followed before on-site mobilization can commence.
The design phase typically lasts at least 3 to 4 weeks. The Engineer, Architect or Building Envelope Consultant will visit the site to examine and record existing conditions, as well as deficiencies along all building elevations and the existing roof(s). These field notes, and the resulting scope of work, are then provided to the CAD team. The scope of work is also used to create the project specifications. The final CAD drawings and the specifications become part of the bid document package, which is sent to selected contractors.
The standard bid process takes a minimum of 2 weeks. The contractors attend an on-site pre-bid meeting and walk-through. Pre-bid meeting minutes and addenda are issued to explain all facets of the project and address any inquiries from the contractors. A bid matrix comparing the contractors’ bid proposals is provided to the Board, Owner and/or Property Manager.
Before a contractor is selected, post bid interviews of the most competitive bidders should be conducted. Once the contractor is awarded the project, attorneys representing the Board or Building Owner will review, revise and approve the contractor’s contract prior to its execution. This contractor selection process typically takes at least 2 weeks.
During the bidding and contractor selection processes, the required DOB filing forms are being completed and submitted. Additionally, any required asbestos testing is being performed, and all necessary forms are being issued by and submitted to the DEP.
Depending on the time of year, the final phase of filing all permit paperwork, and awaiting DOB approval, typically takes 4 to 6 weeks. This process includes submitting documents signed by all parties to the DOB, addressing any objections, scheduling new plan reviews, and obtaining the permits. Additionally, the Contractor is responsible for handling scaffolding and bridging approval. Lastly, should the DOB require Site Safety for the project or LPC (Landmarks Preservation Commission) approval, an additional 4 weeks for filing and approval may be necessary.
If all goes as planned, the preconstruction timeline is approximately 11 to 14 weeks. If asbestos testing reveals asbestos containing material (ACM) another 4 to 6 weeks to perform abatement and file paperwork will be necessary. Other potential factors can also add to preconstruction time. The work or travel schedules of Board Members or Owners might prevent obtaining signatures in a timely manner. Attorneys might debate the merits or value of specific clauses, or the DOB may present objections.
With no issues or delays, the steps leading up to project mobilization constitute an approximate 3-month preconstruction timeline. Unforeseen issues, logistic complications, and uncommitted parties can increase that timeline to 4+ months. Therefore, it’s important for all those involved in a building envelope restoration project to have realistic expectations of when field work will begin.
The timeline breakdown above is a good reminder that now is the time to begin planning Spring of 2018 restoration projects. If design and contractor selection takes place this fall or winter, filing and permitting can be accomplished in time to begin construction as soon as weather permits this spring.