Property Management Issues
The Consultant’s Role and What to Expect During a Project
From the Fall 2021 issue of the CCI South Alberta CCI Review
Having a consultant involved in your project can save you time and money while ensuring your construction project goes according to plan. A consultant will help you figure out the issues before embarking on costly repair projects and help create a targeted yet wholistic rehabilitation plan best suited for your project. Once the project is under way, a consultant will provide quality assurance and deal with the contract administration that accompanies a construction project.
The first step in a project is investigating the issue. You may know something is wrong, but need to find out what and why. For instance, maybe there is a water leak at the roof or windows, or there arecracks in the wall. It is very important to determine the source of the problem, otherwise you may take an incorrect approach that won’t be successful. Sometimes, you think something might be wrong and you need to find out for sure. Ways to determine if something is wrong include:
- Technical Audits (compares the intended design to the actual construction and aims to find workmanship problems, hazards, and large risk deficiencies)
- Building Exterior Visual Assessments (per the City of Calgary Maintenance By-Law involving safety concerns)
- Specific Investigations (roof condition assessments, parkade condition assessment, water testing, etc.)
- Building Envelope Condition Assessments (overall detailed assessment of the building envelope’s construction, deterioration levels, and risk)
- Reserve Fund Studies (capital expense planning) While investigation is a great way to understand your building and determine the source of any active problems, a condominium’s Reserve Fund Study is also a valuable source of information. Make sure you understand your Reserve Fund Study and the repairs and replacements forecasted.
Planning and Design
As mentioned, part of the consultant’s role is to help you see the big picture prior to spending significant amounts of money.For example, let’s say you are intending a window replacement. Do you need to take half of the building’s cladding off to properly detail your new windows? What damage might you cause removing some of it? How are you detailing the window installation and can you tie-in other work easily at a later date? A consultant will help you work through these issues and provide wholistic recommendations so you can plan in the best interests of your condominium. In addition, consultants can provide specifications for tested high-end materials and techniques for repairs. A consultant will assist with your understanding of the best-practice design used, not just the minimum code requirement. In addition, understanding material compatibilities and manufacturer’s installation sequences is of great importance during the design phase, and a consultant will assist with these matters.
During this phase of a project, the consultant will recommend contractors for the work. They will assist with providing tender documents to the selected bidding contractors and conducting a site walk-through of the project so everyone is on the same playing field and understands the scope. During the tender the consultant will answer questions from the bidders, receive bids on the project when the tender closes, review the bids, and recommend a contractor to the client for their selection explaining and summarizing the tender documents received.
This is a valuable service to ensure you can effectively compare apples to apples with the bids received. Also, an experienced consultant can ‘see through’ some of the pricing provided and may in some cases provide the condominium with perceived risks that will better prepare them for issues during construction.
Contracts are extremely important in rehabilitation projects. The consultant will guide this process by using standard contracts such as the CCDC2 Stipulated Price Contract. The contract ensures specific roles are contractually assigned to the parties involved, and define parameters like pricing and scheduling, along with other conditions.
During the actual construction, the consultant’s role is mainly to provide quality assurance services and administrate the project so it proceeds per the contract’s intent. The consultant will conduct site reviews during the work and provide direction to the contractor related to quality issues, take care of contract administration like payment certificates, change orders, requests for substitutes, etc., conduct final deficiency reviews, and assist with the project close out, including the collection of warranty documents and final permit closeouts.
What to Expect During Construction
Common things to expect during construction include:
- Changes in scope and price - There are often hidden conditions uncovered when the work proceeds that can change the scope of work and, consequently, the price. Be prepared that the tender price will not be the final price.
- Disruption - Expect construction noise and disruption to occupants, including limited access to some facilities or areas.
- Complaints – It is inevitable you will receive occupant complaints about the construction on site. Your property manager or a representative board member should filter which complaints are directed to the board and which can be directed to the consultant.
- Paperwork – Construction projects generate a lot of paperwork. A good consultant will help you sort out and provide guidance and recommendations. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand and ask your consultant questions when needed.
- Contract Arbitration – The consultant’s duty is to be objective and fair to all parties involved. Do not expect the consultant to automatically side with the owner. The consultant is to arbitrate the contract in the first instance and recommend resolutions to any disputes in a fair and reasonable manner.
- Communication – Report things you see on site to the consultant who will then provide direction to the contractor if needed. Do not provide feedback directly to the contractor as this is often the source of miscommunication which can affect the project greatly.
Construction projects can get messy and stressful, but are necessary to keep your condominium in its best shape, avoid compounding deterioration issues, and maintain resale value. A good consultant will help you navigate the complexities involved in a construction project so you can rest assured your project has the best chance of success.
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