Begin with the end in mind.
By Steve Nelson, RRC
The following is an article that was previously published in our corporate newsletter (formerly known as Perspectives). With the end of the year drawing near and companies scrambling to finish ongoing projects and also be well-positioned for the start of the upcoming year, we thought re-running the content would be timely. We hope the details offered below are of value to you as you plan your upcoming roofing projects for 2017.
Let’s assume you have determined a roof in your inventory is beyond repair, and must be replaced. Obviously, if it is leaking at an unacceptable level and immediate resolution is required, replacement timing takes care of itself. The cost of a reactive project will, more often than not, cost more than if a proactive replacement project and roof management program had been in place.
Implementing a roof management program allows you to select the most advantageous time to undertake a roofing project. Consider the following factors when determining the timing of your next roofing project:
Funding Requirements: Requirements for project funding in certain fiscal quarters or “drop dead” completion dates at fiscal year’s end can make the start date for the project critical. If the project starts too late to allow sufficient time for the contractor to meet the budget driven timing objectives, they may need to add additional crew, or work premium overtime hours, both of which can increase project costs.
Facility Specific Restrictions and/or Opportunities: Scheduling your project when it has the least potential to disrupt facility operations could help avoid unnecessary costs such as production shutdown, the need to move product, or provide alternate accommodations to tenants or customers. Industrial facilities often require roofing projects to be completed over a scheduled shutdown period that is fixed on the calendar. Retail facilities may not want construction taking place during peak holiday shopping periods. Educational facilities typically require roofing work to be completed over breaks when classrooms and dormitories are least occupied. Roofing a building space being remodeled for a new tenant may be less expensive if the roofing occurs before or during interior demolition, and not after the interior is completed. By lowering the contractor’s risk of construction related leak damage, you may also lower your costs.
Geographic and Weather Impact: The location of your project site can also determine the most advantageous time of the year to undertake a project. A project schedule that results in roof installation during inclement weather conditions can adversely affect the daily work schedule and increase the cost of construction. Winter projects in the north, when available daylight work hours are fewer and cold temperatures slow the installation process, can seriously impact a contractor’s productivity and quality. Summer projects in the southern sunbelt can require night work at premium rates to escape the heat. Persistent daily rains in regions like south Florida and/or the coastal northwest can interrupt projects for several days at a time. Scheduling your project to avoid, as much as possible, these types of predictable weather delays may allow the bidders to anticipate a shorter project duration, reducing the cost of the project.
Market Influences: Traditionally, contractors throughout most of the country are looking to build a backlog of work during winter months to ensure a strong start to the new roofing season when weather breaks in the spring. Projects bid during late fall and winter months for spring starts, often see the most aggressive bidding and obtain the best pricing for the owner. Projects scheduled for completion during peak roofing season, when contractors have an abundance of work, may see inflated pricing. If a project must be done during peak season, plan ahead. Design, bid, and commit to the project early, so the contractor has you on their schedule and material orders are placed to meet your targeted start date.
By being aware of how these factors can impact the cost of roof construction, you should be able to position your roof replacement project on the calendar to avoid influences that can unnecessarily inflate project costs. Anytime you can schedule your project to reduce the contractor’s risk, remove obstacles to production, or create incentives, you have an opportunity to lower your roofing costs.
PLANNING: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Having identified the most advantageous time to undertake your project, you need to plan the steps required to implement the project so you meet your objectives. Begin with the end in mind. If the project completion date is critical, consult a roofing professional to get a preliminary estimate of the time required to complete your scope of construction, then work back towards a project start date. Meeting your start date will depend on allowing sufficient time to properly design, bid, and award the project. Following are steps in the process that should be anticipated; the value, scope, and/or complexity of the project will dictate how formally or informally each of these steps must be performed and the time required to complete them.
Site Due Diligence: The more complex the project, the more time should be allowed to gather necessary site construction information. Depending on the existing roof substrate, special quantification measures such as fastener withdrawal, moisture content, or adhesive bond testing may be required to make a sound judgment during the system selection process. If chronic leaks or interior condensation have been experienced, and related damage is evident, a condition assessment of the deck and structural supports may also be appropriate.
Design Development: Roof system selection is becoming more complex as building and energy codes continue to evolve. Appropriate system options narrow considerably if your project is located in a High Velocity Wind Zone, or in one of several environmentally sensitive regions, such as California or the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) region of the northeast corridor states. Insurance carriers, such as FM Global, set a high standard for system approvals. Identifying a roof system that meets all required project criteria can become time consuming, depending on which restrictions apply to a specific site. The proposal for a new roof system design should be reviewed and accepted by the end users at the facility to ensure it meets their needs. Compliance with building codes and insurance requirements sound basic, but it is an important step that is often skipped. We suggest a preliminary compliance review prior to going too far down the road.
Construction Documents: Basic elements of the bid documents can be addressed during the design development period. Once project specifics are confirmed and accepted, final drawings and documents are completed and, if appropriate, submitted to the selected roof system manufacturers for review of warranty eligibility and to your insurance carrier or risk management organization for final review and comment.
Bidding Process: As bid documents are being finalized, potential bidders can be identified who are authorized to install the specified roof system(s), have the appropriate experience and resources to undertake the project, meet ever increasing safety qualifications, and have manpower available at the time the project schedule dictates. Holding a bid meeting at the site to orient bidders to nuances of the project can reduce the potential for bidders to leave something out that could become an issue later. Ample time should be allowed for the bidders to generate their bid. When pressed for time, some bidders may add an unnecessary contingency to be certain they are covered, or may drop out of the bidding if they don’t feel they have sufficient time to properly address all aspects of the bid. In either case, the result can be less competitive bidding and higher quotes. For large and/or complex projects where significant dollars are at stake, coordinating interviews with two or more of the bidders may be necessary to evaluate and confirm their understanding of the project and determine which bid represents the best value.
Contract Approval and Award: We have seen this process vary from a few days for preapproved budgets, to several weeks or months depending on the procurement structure.
Review Contractor Submittals: This process provides a quality assurance step. It further validates the contractor’s understanding of the project requirements and makes certain the appropriate materials are being ordered; and, any required approvals or permits are in place before construction starts. Contractors may need to provide information more than once to get all of the necessary submittals approved and be able to order materials for the project.
Project Permitting: Where obtaining permits is required, most often it is a matter of a week or two. However, in certain parts of the country, for instance California and South Florida, permits may take several weeks or even months to work through the bureaucracy. In places like New York City, the hiring of expeditors may be required to help navigate your permit request through the system.
Planning ahead and allowing ample time in the overall project schedule to properly complete the design, bid, and preconstruction processes, whether it be several weeks or several months, can pay dividends in terms of securing more competitive bids. By creating good competition among qualified bidders, providing clear and concise bid documents, and allowing sufficient time for bidders to develop and feel confident in their bids, you set the stage for more aggressive pricing without compromising the quality of your roofing project. Communicating and enforcing high-quality standards for your roof construction project also has long-term cost implications in terms of lower repair and maintenance costs, fewer leak related costs, and less frequent roof replacements down the road.
Now is the time to be preparing for Spring 2017 construction starts. If you have questions regarding the planning and implementation of a roof replacement project or would like to discuss your next roofing project, feel free to contact us at 319.393.9100.