BY RICK FROBERG, AIA, RRC, LEED AP
Designing next year’s building envelope projects in the fall or winter offers several money- and time-saving benefits.
Now that fall has arrived, this year’s building envelope projects are (hopefully) completed or wrapping up soon. This can only mean one thing: it’s time to start designing the projects you have planned for next year.
When you have completed design documents in hand by the end of November, you’re able to put your projects out for bid between December and February. Here are three reasons why this timing is ideal.
ATTRACT COMPETITIVE BID PRICES
When bidding on a project during the fall and winter months, contractors are generally more inclined to submit a competitive price, as they have yet to fill up their summer schedules. Keep in mind that construction bid
prices tend to steadily increase as summer approaches. In recent years, bid prices have increased substantially from winter to summer, partly due to the booming economy and a shortage of skilled construction personnel.
Designing your project in the fall or early winter can also give you a more flexible construction schedule — and this can lead to lower bid prices, too. If possible, consider scheduling your construction to start
early (let’s say, mid-April) or wrap up later in the year (November). Here’s why: The construction of most K-12 and higher education projects must take place between June and August, when students are out of
class. If your construction schedule gives contractors a little breathing room around school projects, you’re likely to receive better bids. Plus, by giving contactors more time to meet August deadlines, you’ll be
helping out the schools, too.
AVOID WINTER-WEATHER INSTALLATION COSTS
The installation of certain materials, such as those required for roof replacement, waterproofing, masonry repair, window replacement, and sealant replacement work, is largely weather dependent. Of course, it’s
not impossible to install these materials in the winter, but it can be more costly. Winter conditions are not optimal for achieving a high-quality installation of these products, so the work will be more expensive due
to its pace, heating requirements, and other factors. If your project is designed by early winter, you’ll be able to schedule your construction to take place between April and November, when temperatures are
generally suitable for any building envelope work.
ALLOW AMPLE LEAD TIME FOR MATERIALS
Another aspect that is often overlooked is the long lead time some building envelope products require, such as windows, doors, and skylights. The time it takes these products to go from a shop drawing
submittal and review to delivery is often eight to 12 weeks or more — which is almost all of summer here in the Upper Midwest! Bidding your project before the end of February means your long lead-time materials
will likely be delivered by the end of May.
READY TO DESIGN YOUR BUILDING ENVELOPE PROJECT?
Working with a consultant like AET to design your project during the fall and early winter is a wise move that can help your project meet both budget and schedule demands. To set your team up for success
in the coming year, this really is the best season for getting your plans underway.
Rick Froberg is the manager of AET’s Building Technology Division. He can be reached at.