June 02, 2020

How to Plan for Unexpected Construction Shutdowns in the Future

The world of building construction as we know it is changing. There are newly established guidelines and procedures just to enter a jobsite; workers are required to wear face masks and wash their hands on a regular basis; and everyone must stay at least 6 feet apart while eating lunch. The way we operate our businesses will not only be affected on the jobsite, but in our offices during the pre-planning and design of these buildings. Sudden and unexpected construction stoppages like what the country has been experiencing will challenge project teams in new and varied ways. How we specify, procure, and manage products now will ultimately affect future projects during unforeseen extended delays.

When selecting any building product, design professionals and contractors usually take the following factors into consideration: availability, pricing, aesthetic effects and flexibility performance, long-term durability, warranties, contractor’s experience with a particular product or brand, design professional’s preferences, and other factors. During unexpected and extended shutdowns, for exterior wall assemblies, three of the most important considerations are material’s exposure to the elements, warrantability, and dates of substantial completion.

Materials left exposed to moisture or UV rays beyond their stated exposure limits could prove to be a costly fix. On a closed down elementary school job site in Pennsylvania, self-adhering rough opening and cavity wall flashings were left exposed. Depending on when these products were initially installed, and when construction operations resume, the products may have to be removed and replaced. Researching a building product’s technical information, advantages, and limitations during the design and procurement phases can inform the selection of a long-lasting material that can withstand the weatherability of uncertain times.

Another challenge is the warrantability of products that have been left exposed or not fully installed (left blowing in the breeze). A hotel project in Pennsylvania was experiencing financial issues which ultimately stalled completion of the building.  The roofing manufacturer would not issue a warranty at substantial completion because materials were exposed for several years. Regarding dates of substantial completion, if there is a delay of up to a year or so, you need to ask the question, when does the warranty take effect? If the existing incomplete application is damaged through exposure, how will that effect the warranty, and how will a manufacturer know if any products were compromised? 

Hammering out the details with building product manufacturers from the beginning, and ensuring the product’s longevity and weatherability, can minimize disputes over and replacement of compromised building products installed on projects that have experienced long-term shutdowns.


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