Put Me In, Coach: Adding The Right Specialty Consultant To Your Project Team
Joe Sugiyama is the Vice President of Pre-Construction at CA Ventures.
Before breaking ground on any new project, one of the first steps is to assemble a team of skilled players to see you through the project lifecycle. You’ll begin by onboarding your starting lineup — an architect as well as civil and structural engineers. This group represents your core team who will ensure your building has proper utility connections, determine if the project is structurally sound and marry your vision for the project with the community in which you are building.
But what about your bench talent? These are consultants who won’t have a role throughout the entire project, but who can be called up at the right time to see you through a thorny issue or provide expertise above and beyond your main team. I like to consider three key players on all developments: accessibility consultants, dry utility consultants and building envelope consultants.
I recommend hiring at least one if not all of these key resources as part of your project team to ensure you have the right players on the field at every stage of your project.
Concerned your architect could use some expert input to manage all relevant accessibility codes? Put an accessibility consultant in your lineup.
What they do: No matter what or where you’re building, accessibility codes and requirements can be extraordinarily difficult to decipher with numerous locations around your site needing attention. Whether you are looking at cross slopes on a sidewalk or clear floor space requirements for a shower, even an experienced developer can struggle to be sure that they have addressed all applicable accessibility standards at every location. A skilled accessibility consultant can guide you and your architect in the right direction during both design and construction.
How they make a difference: Accessibility consultants will analyze every drawing sheet to ensure that both local and federal codes are being followed and will also visit the project site during construction to take measurements and look for construction issues that can cause a building to be out of compliance. If not addressed properly, the cost of making these corrections after the fact can quickly add up. An accessibility consultant should be well-versed in both local and federal accessibility codes, be familiar with the design development process and have the ability to travel to the site to ensure that the design is being enforced.
Dry Utility Consultant
Need someone with the hustle and focus to relentlessly manage your utility needs? Time for the dry utility consultant.
What they do: A dry utility consultant can help a developer navigate the nuances of your local power company’s program. They generally know the market and the key utility players and can assist a developer with complicated relocation projects, determining fees associated with permanent power and telecom services, and can assist in right-sizing electrical equipment on your site.
How they make a difference: If not properly evaluated, any unresolved utility items can have severe repercussions. A qualified dry utility consultant will ensure the project has a proper utility strategy at all phases of development. They will schedule regular meetings with local utility companies, manage on-site visits to parse out any potential conflicts and help formulate budgets for a project’s utility scope by leveraging their local contacts and historical knowledge of the area of the development.
Building Envelope Consultant
Need a save against potential moisture intrusion? The building envelope consultant will have the expertise to protect your project.
What they do: A leaky building can cause a multitude of challenges with a developer’s tenants and can have a costly impact on a building’s systems. Often, water intrusion stems from either a flawed design or shoddy construction, but this can be avoided by hiring the right envelope consultant (Note: the “envelope” here refers to the building’s exterior system, meant to keep moisture out of the building). A building envelope consultant can serve as a second set of eyes on your design to reveal if there is any systemic issue that will cause issues in the future.
How they make a difference: A building envelope consultant’s first role is to review the architect’s design details at critical locations, such as window flashing, roof design or drainage designs, and challenge the architect on design decisions and offer strategies to make details more constructible and watertight. Your envelope consultant should also be engaged to review your project’s shop drawings and product submittals, as these documents can slightly tweak the specific details drawn by the architect with manufacturers’ installation methods. Regular site visits to review mock-ups and inspect construction quality allow the consultant to catch installation issues before they are multiplied across the project.
When assembling your project team, a small investment into three key consultants can have an immense impact on your development’s health, code compliance and schedule.