We Are Here to Support You
Despite recent restrictions on construction and social distancing recommendations, many brave individuals are continuing to work on construction projects deemed essential – including new construction, assisted living and healthcare projects, housing / mixed-use projects, and public works. Allana Buick & Bers (ABBAE) is open to support essential projects and essential workers in these disruptive times.
The Coronavirus crisis will eventually end, but the investment in our buildings will last for decades. It is still critical that building projects are water-tight and perform well. With all the current stress and uncertainly, we are seeing first-hand that contractors and sub-contractors are struggling to maintain high level quality of construction labor and supervision.
Without engaged third-party construction observation, the risk of defective construction increases exponentially, now more than ever. The last thing we want after merging from this crisis is inherited issues with sub-standard construction, building leaks and lawsuits. As you know, ABBAE specializes in protecting owners, contractors and Architects from risk of building leaks by providing quality assurance services in the form of inspection, observation and testing. While it was initially a challenge, we have successfully collaborated with our remote clients to be their eyes and ears on essential project sites.
ABBAE is a building enclosure expert with over 33 years of industry experience. We learn how to mitigate risk of defective construction from other people’s failures. Our learning and experience come from forensic investigation of premature failures, leaks and other issues and to assist owners and contractors figure out the issues and act as expert witnesses. Collectively, we have investigated failures in thousands of buildings that cost billions of dollars to repair. This forensic learning has allowed us to be build a very effective quality assurance program to fit most budgets, including full-time and part-time observation services. Our tablet-based reporting is very effective in communicating with superintendents and sub-contractors daily and actively managing and closing out open issues quickly
Common Construction Defects – What to Watch For
Defective construction isn’t always obvious. Small leaks and other seemingly minor issues may represent the tip of the iceberg. If left unresolved, “small issues” can lead to millions of dollars’ worth of repairs. Unfortunately, most defective construction does go undetected because waterproofing elements typically get enclosed relatively quickly following their installation.
To be effective, partially-completed trade construction needs to be inspected before it gets covered up. For example, it is imperative for façade construction that that weather resistive barriers, air barriers and wall flashings are built correctly before each layer is added. Many roofing systems also have critical elements like substrates that need to be inspected and approved before being covered up. Additionally, it is important that the insulation and roofing boards are properly staggered and secured before they are covered up with roofing.
Common construction defects include:
- Window flashings and weather resistive barrier issues
- Curtain wall/window glazing product fail to meet performance standards
- Roofing systems, insulation, vapor barriers and ventilation issues
- Exterior wall (stucco/siding) and façade failures
- Balcony/deck, elevated walkways and podium waterproofing failures
- Material failures
- Building ventilation, air conditioning and plumbing issues
- Fire resistive construction issues with gypsum wall board and smoke seals
The Actual Cost of Defect Reconstruction
In addition to acting as an expert witness, ABBAE also houses an award-winning architectural-engineering division that assists with defect reconstruction projects. We have seen first-hand how expensive it is to repair defective construction. While insurance can alleviate some costs, it’s the building owners who are on the hook for the repairs and cost.
Case Study 1: 650-Unit Residential Complex – Total COR: Approx. $108,170,200
The Project – This project included the forensic defect investigation, litigation support, and defect reconstruction for a 650-unit residential complex. By the time our staff finished the forensic investigation and testing, we had documented defects in the expansive curtain wall system, roof, parking garage, private balconies, common areas, and fire-resistive construction. Defects included several construction/installation related errors, particularly in the curtain wall system and the common, recreation areas. There were also significant design defects which should have raised red flags for experienced construction quality assurance monitors.
The Cost of Repairs – The Cost of Repairs (COR) for this project ended up being over $100 million dollars. That’s over $166,400 per unit! Many of these issues could have been prevented with qualified, third-party construction monitoring.
- Curtain Wall COR: $45,891,982
- Below-Grade COR: $22,211,722
- Balcony Deck COR: $2,365,954
- Roof COR: $88,256
- Fire-Resistive Construction COR: $11,439,643
- Building Defects – COR $26,172,656
- Total Building COR: $108,170,213
Case Study 2: 419-Unit Residential Complex – Total COR: Approx. $73,971,500
The Project – This project included the forensic defect investigation and defect reconstruction for a 419-unit luxury residential complex. This was a high-profile case which included significant defects at the curtain wall, below-grade area, plaza decks, plumbing, HVAC systems, and fire-resistive construction. Specific defects ranged from excessive condensation in the interior pool area, water intrusion, and improper drainage (to name a few).
The Cost of Repairs – The COR for this project ended up costing over $70 million (over $176,500 per unit). Like our first case study, many of the construction-related defects like the curtain wall and drainage issues could have theoretically been mitigated by engaged and effective third-party construction quality assurance monitoring.
- Curtain Wall COR: $1,726,712
- Below-Grade Area COR: $14,652,206
- Common Area COR: $3,235,097
- Total Building COR: $73,971,509
Mitigate Construction Defects with 3rd-Party Construction Observation & Testing
Statistically building enclosure components have the highest rate of system failure. As we’ve shown, it’s also some of the costliest defects to rectify. It is imperative that owners and developers hire independent firms to provide high-level construction observation, particularly during building enclosure construction.
We have seen again and again in the field that vigilant construction monitoring is the most effective strategy for reducing defective construction (and generally increasing a building’s life expectancy). Over our three decades of experience, we have found that the retroactive costs to repair enclosure defects typically way exceed the costs of proactively hiring a qualified building enclosure consultant by a factor of 5-10x.
Traditionally, professional third-party construction observation services also lead to a reduction in contractor Requests for Information (RFIs), Change Orders (COs), and other items that can delay construction and increase costs.
Retaining a qualified independent consultant to monitoring enclosure installations also confirms that installations were completed in accordance with the construction documents and industry standards, and document areas of non-compliance. Performance testing while you still have the contractors retention, the crew at the jobsite and the ability to reject expensive fabricated items like window and curtainwall modules.
Our construction monitoring and observation program has several goals:
- To confirm product installations are completed to owner/industry/manufacture standards
- To confirm product installations are completed in accordance with the construction documents
- Testing for air and water intrusion performance of assemblies like façade, waterproofing, and roofing
- To flag potential areas of concern missed in the original construction documents
- To document situational occurrences (be it bad weather, high humidity, an earthquake, a questionable employee, etc.) that may impact the quality of current installations down the road
How We Can Help
ABBAE provides a construction quality assurance plan with proactive (vs reactive) goals based on real world experience with failed buildings. Instead of providing a list of problems with the current construction, our team of experts provides solutions in real-time.
Our architectural engineering departarment (in conjunction with our construction monitoring division) have developed a detail-oriented, construction monitoring methodology over three decades of experience with building enclosure design and forensic analysis. Our construction monitors are some of the most highly-trained in the industry. They are also supervised by licensed architects, engineers, and certified building experts.
ABBAE provides the following quality assurance services:
- Construction monitoring for Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC)
- Product installation monitoring for warranty compliance
- Factory visits to verify compliance with shop drawings and industry standards
- Testing with industry-specific requirements (such as the Air Barrier Association of American’s QEP Program for example).
Let our licensed professionals and building experts guide you for your projects, to help assure the projects are being installed in accordance with the design documents and to industry standards. With COVID-19, its becoming harder to control and manage our projects for quality assurance and ABBAE can partner with you to help manage this essential part of construction.
In-House Expertise and Staff Resources
As mentioned, ABBAE has some of the most highly-trained construction monitors and building experts on staff. Our in-house staff of 200+ includes:
- Registered Architects
- Licensed Engineers—Structural, Mechanical, and Civil
- Certified Residential Building Inspectors (ICC)
- Certified EIFS Inspectors (CEI)
- Registered Roof Consultants (RRC)
- Registered Waterproofing Consultants (RWC)
- CETCO Certified Waterproofing Inspectors
- Registered Roof Observers (RRO)
- GCP Applied Technologies Preprufe Watertightness Warranty Inspectors
- Registered Building Envelope Consultants (RBEC)
- Registered Exterior Wall Consultants (REWC)
Questions – Ask an Expert
Allana Buick & Bers’ Mechanical Engineers, Enclosure Consultants and Building Experts are here to answer your questions about ventilation, air circulation, and HVAC maintenance. Follow us on twitter or visit our website for answers to your questions and discussions with other hospitality personnel and building experts.