Program to Help New Building Owners Deal With Hidden Costs

Despite the certificate of occupancy, substantial hidden costs from unfinished systems often plague building owners after moving into newly constructed buildings. A new program introduced by EH&E draws on the firm's experience as a leading commissioning firm to help.

Even though a newly constructed building may be certified for occupancy, a variety of hidden issues and costs can occur when mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are not completed prior to the move-in date. As a solution, EH&E's new "Inchstone Construction Monitoring Program" tracks key project deliverables (the inchstones) to maintain the project schedule and ensure systems completion at the time of occupancy.

"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," said Mike Della Barba, Director of Commissioning Services at EH&E, a Newton, Mass. based environmental engineering and consulting firm.

Building owners and facility managers utilize the program to track and organize critical project deliverables that, if let slip, could result in a maintenance or budgeting crisis after occupancy. The program combines a customized service along with a web-based interface management application that provides building owners with instant access to real time information on selected critical project deliverables.

The associated service consists of an initial review of the contract document language to ensure all critical project deliverables are included. Then a dedicated account manager provides all record-keeping services required to maintain site currency during the project, including the creation of electronic documents from printed material as required.

Owners and managers can utilize the password protected, web-based site for information on the construction project schedule and status at all times. The customized application enables instant access to all aspects of the project, including status reports, progress graphs and charts, as well as upcoming deadlines for all identified contractual deliverables.

"Through this system we provide owners with information they can use to more accurately predict project delays early in the project and take action - avoiding the additional maintenance costs, higher energy costs, and shortened equipment life that incomplete systems can cause," said Della Barba.

According to EH&E's engineers, the most common problems experienced by owners and facility managers upon occupancy are equipment start-up deficiencies and balancing delays, either of which can result in many thousands of dollars in unexpected maintenance costs and hundreds of hours of downtime or employee inconvenience.

"The root cause of almost all of these problems is incomplete systems testing prior to occupancy, because while all systems need to be functional to get the certificate of occupancy, verified design performance (full value purchased!) is not a requirement. Our system tracks key indicators that we've shown can accurately predict when this situation is likely to occur, giving the construction team time to react," added Della Barba.

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