With aging buildings on the coast line of Florida the need for major renovation comes sooner rather than later.
The debate Is : What to do and how to do it.
When a condominium board meets to discuss a construction/ renovation project, the typical process starts with what to do and how to do it, then a preliminary plan is formed to establish a budget for the project.
The decision to go ahead with the project is not a simple one, and there are a number of issues that need to be discussed and agreed upon first.
If the project is to restore the property after a storm with insurance funds, the issues are: should it be restored it to its prior condition, or should the association take advantage of the opportunity and perform additional property upgrades ? If the latter option is chosen, then to what extent should the association perform additional property upgrades?
If the project is not connected to any storm or property damage, but is an aging building with access wear and tear and deferred maintenance that needs upgrading, then a preliminary budget is established and an architect / engineer is selected to draw up the plans, specifications, the bidding process for contractors and contractor selection.
This is the common way of handling the projects but not necessarily the best way for the property owners. Let’s start first with the architect’s selection. You may have the best architect who is familiar with your type of project but at this first stage of the process you are only getting one opinion from one architect and you have no other way to compare and evaluate the architect’s proposal. This process continues through contractor selection, construction and completion of the project because all trades must follow the architect’s plans and specifications.
An example of one of the condominium project that I was involved after the problem occurred.
The subject building was in the City of Hallandale beach Florida. The condominium board was notified by the insurance carrier that all exterior doors needed to be replace with new hurricane approved doors as a condition for the property insurance renewal. The condominium board awarded the contract to a local door company, which subsequently applied for permits, supplied and installed the doors. Upon final inspection by the City of Hallandale Beach Building inspector it was discovered that the door jamb was fasten into the wall that was made out of masonry units on one side of the jamb and metal framing on the other side. The City inspector failed the final inspection, ordered all doors to be removed and requested a structural engineer to evaluate the problem and make recommendations to reinforce the metal framing side to make it the same strength as the masonry unit side before reinstalling the doors. The door company (the contractor in this case) left the job and refused to correct the problem without getting paid for additional change order, claiming that the problem was (concealed conditions) and not within the contract scope of his work. The condominium board is in litigation with the door company and the project was on hold for almost 2 years. The building permits expired and the insurance policy was going to be cancelled. The condominium board had no other choice but to start the process all over again, hiring a new company and paying an addition $185,000.00 to correct the problem. In this particular example having the consultant on board, the problem would have been discovered prior to bidding and it could have saved the condominium board the additional cost of $185,000.00 plus the cost of ongoing litigation which is unknown.
A more accurate and efficient method is to first hire a construction consultant (owner’s representative) to coordinate and perform the following services:
- Initial project evaluation
- Preliminary budget recommendation
- Prepare preliminary scope of work for architects
- Prepare Request for Proposals (RFP) from architects
- Evaluate architect proposals and make award recommendation
- Review the final plans and specifications from architect / engineer
- Prepare a contractor’s bidding package
- Evaluate proposals from contractors and make award recommendation
- Monitor project quality control and performance for the owners
- Perform inspection prior to payment release
- Completion and warranties verification
- Post completion instructions and operations
In using this method the project is likely to run more smoothly with minimal to zero problems due to the fact that every step of the way is tightly controlled by the construction consultant (which is the owner’s representative) and if an issue arises it can be mitigated on the spot without affecting the entire project. The second benefit is that if your association has to litigate any disputes and or claims you have an expert witness with full backup detailed documentation of the project, which will save time and money and in most cases it will lead to a settlement or a judgment in the owners favor.
The consultant’s job is simply to coordinate and monitor all project activities and the owner can rely on the service of a single, prime professional to manage the entire process of a construction project. The consultant does not replace any of the project professional services, but advises the owner and coordinates all project activities for successful project coordinates all project activities for successful outcome.
involved in a major restoration or remodeling project end up with some construction disputes or costly litigation due to the fact that the job The statistics show that many condominium associations and or property management (referred to as owners) specifications were open to more than one option and the contractor choice or method was not the same as owners choice. Having a clear understanding of the project details to include unforeseen conditions, schedule conflicts, change orders, delays and other details can substantially reduce potential disputes by hiring a Construction Consultant at the early stage before the process starts.
As an example the consultant will make recommendations of how to handle change orders when they arise by creating a menu of services with a set price for potential change orders and further anticipate potential unforeseen conditions for which the consultant will expose the condition and make it a part of the bidding instructions.
Hiring a Consultant is a trend that is gaining momentum and popularity with many property owners and real estate developers, due to the recognized fact that the Construction Consultant produces better results than other professionals, and is a valuable service for a better project outcome.