Getting the Building You Paid For
Your new building may have problems that won't become obvious until it's too late to fix them. Clearly defined deliverables and construction oversight can minimize the risk of unpleasant surprises.
Michael Della Barba (Jun/Jul 08)
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Maximizing Building Value Using Inchstones
minimize these negative impacts on the building owner, a series of
potential indicators can be used at various stages of the project to
predict potential scheduling delays. These indicators - or "inchstones"
- enable the owner to identify potential delays at points early enough
in the schedule to correct and maintain the scheduled dates. We can
define inchstones as contractual sub-tasks with associated tangible
deliverables, which if not completely implemented will directly or
indirectly lead to schedule delays and performance shortfalls. Tracking
these deliverables during the project provides a finer degree of
scheduling oversight for the building owner and gives the project team
notification of potential delays early in the project when corrections
can be more easily and inexpensively implemented.
deliverables associated with the inchstones are almost always standard
components of the contract language in the large projects. However, a
review of the specification requirements during the design phase of the
project is highly recommended to ensure that all critical inchstones
(deliverables) for a project are in place.
Examples of project inchstones during the construction phase of a project can include:
• submittal requirement sheets and approval tracking;
• contactor plans (for installation, startup, balancing, training, etc.)
• point-to-point controls checklists;
• startup notification requirements.
of these documents contain information critical to the proper
specification, installation, and performance of equipment, and should
be precursors to the proper startup, completion, and acceptance of
building systems. Consequently, the lack of these key deliverables at
certain points in the project should be an early warning that problems
will occur later in the construction cycle. For example, if the
schedule indicates that equipment startup is to begin in two weeks, yet
no startup plans (the "what, how, and by who" of the startup) have been
submitted, it is highly unlikely that the startup will be performed to
client expectations or needs. This sets the stage for later equipment
problems, project delays, voided warranties, and higher energy and
maintenance costs to the owner.
Implementing Inchstone Management
inchstones into a construction project is not a major effort. As the
previous examples have shown, it's primarily a matter of tracking some
key project deliverables. However, making the process work to its
potential involves several important steps that the owner should
• Ensure the contract contains the proper inchstones.
• Make your expectations clear to the construction team.
• Collect, organize, and disseminate deliverables.
• Hold the team accountable.
on many projects has shown that any time the owner must occupy a new
building before all systems have been completed and checked per
contract specifications, the owner will incur a substantial cost to the
project in added maintenance, wasted energy, voided warranties, and
building reputation. By adding a tracking process for key project
deliverables spread throughout the building process, the owner can take
an active role in minimizing the likelihood of occupancy before systems
are fully completed and tested, and therefore take full advantage of
the new building.
Della Barba is the director of commissioning services at Environmental
Health & Engineering (EH&E), a Needham, Massachusetts-based
environmental consulting and engineering services firm. For additional
information, visit www.eheinc.com.