Maintenance and Repairs

January 15, 2024 Published by South Alberta Chapter - By John Campbell

Enhancing Building Envelope Coherence With Effective Communication

From the Winter 2024 issue of the CCI South Alberta CCI Review

The growing demand on Alberta’s building envelope restoration industry for higher performance requires more communication than ever to effectively complete projects.

The building envelope plays a significant role in a structure’s interaction with everyday life. It is the sci-fi forcefield that protects the structure from constant attack from the natural world. This is important, especially in Alberta’s climate. To correctly maintain this system, it requires special care and attention from trained professionals to ensure projects get the time and attention they deserve.

The undeniable truth is that like relationships and vehicles, our buildings require maintenance. In some cases, maintenance required is minor and requires a quick touch- up or correction. In other scenarios, issues can fester, especially those that go unnoticed or ignored. It is in these situations where we must execute our next steps with careful consideration. As Stephen Covey would say, “The key is not spending time, but investing it.” These wise words can be applied to our as-built structures when it comes time for maintenance or remediation.

When we talk about being time efficient and effective on the next project, the goal is not to say, “Get the quote as quickly as possible and approve the lowest bid.” No! This is a call to spend the appropriate time with the correct professionals and collaborate to tackle the project in question. In our experience we can categorize building issues as either individual or systemic.

Understanding which issue is present and what solutions can be taken to remediate is paramount. Communication is crucial throughout the entire process. Providing detailed information about the issue at the time will help the professionals engaged on the project come prepared for the situation they will be facing. Immediate communication of issues will provide the project team the best chance of diagnosing the issue as efficiently as possible. As a bonus, it is also more cost efficient to investigate issues as they are happening, rather than months later.

So how does your project team understand what they are up against? They can do so by conducting necessary investigation to understand the required repair(s). Alberta is fortunate to have great professionals that can help identify and facilitate the correct repair solutions. Engaging a reputable project team most often lead by an engineer or architect to investigate the issue to its extent will define a strong scope of work. In many cases, this involves identifying the options and most cost- effective solutions. Allowing that time to be invested up-front will provide positive returns when it comes time to complete the project. It will allow for more accurate pricing from trades and contractors, cleaner timelines, and more room for successful communication.

This can be especially important when discussing projects that are being phased or planned for future completion. These points will improve the ability to plan for required funds, helping the condo plan for their future.

To summarize; next time we encounter a building envelope issue, give it the time it deserves. Engage a reputable professional to investigate the issue to its extent. Understand that this may take time, but it is invested time that could yield repair solutions for your building for years to come. This first step is imperative; a poor investigation leads to poor design, which leads to poor execution. So, let’s spend that time up front to truly understand the issues we are faced with. The benefit from having the collaboration on site will not go unnoticed. Repair strategies can be put in place for work that needs to be phased, and it is especially important for discussing project budgets for condominiums and private residences.

In this industry, it is very common to face projects where external pressures create a difficult environment to deliver the scope. If we as an industry are more cohesive and prioritize effective communication on problems, then building envelope failures become opportunities for us to make communities better. They become opportunities to solve an issue for the building and set a path forward that can ensure longevity in the repair strategy. This may increase short-term costs, but we need to consider the long-term savings if the work had been executed successfully at the first opportunity. My wish for our industry is that we continue to work and grow together to better our ability and our communities as we move from project to project.

John Campbell
Fire Ant Contracting Ltd.


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