The construction industry is changing and a higher percentage of construction companies work is related to renovations instead of new builds. Renovations are often more complex than green-field projects because the work you are performing can impact existing occupants or negatively impact the building itself.
Today’s article will help to outline some of the common challenges found in renovation work and how to overcome those challenges.
If you’ve ever done any renovation work you will know the number one rule before your start any removals is to know what you are cutting in to. Existing services can or could have been the life blood of the building and cutting into them could have serious consequences.
Before starting your job ask yourself one of the following questions:
- Do I know what this is?
- Is it a dead service?
- What did this do before?
- Does it need to be temporarily fed while I do my work?
- Is there a possibility that there is something concealed behind this thing that I am taking out?
If any of the above make you say ‘I don’t know’ stop, check existing drawings, do further investigation, scan, X-ray or trace the lines to find out.
The number one rule in renovations is that no matter how great the drawings are, you will always find something that is different than the drawings.
In in order to mitigate the impact of existing conditions on a project investigation should be undertaken as soon as possible in a project to expose all buried or concealed surfaces or objects.
Enough can’t be said about the value of investigation. Whether it’s opening access doors in ceilings, doing core drill samples to test bond strength and substrate of flooring, measuring door opening sizes, checking where plumbing feeds come from and the quality of the pipe downstream. All of these activities can identify problems up front so you can spend more time later on worrying about execution of the work instead of that problem you found that now requires the ceiling be redesigned. Some examples of good investigation include:
- Open or cut access panels in the ceiling to identify existing structure and services
- Core drill floors and do pull testing to determine substrate type / integrity and bond strength
- 3D scan existing structure to confirm dimensions and locations
- Measure all existing opening sizes to confirm delivery routes
- Cut openings in walls to determine wall makeup and framing details
- Where possible have mechanical and electrical trades trace all existing services
- Xray or scan to identify services within existing slabs
- Check all as-built drawings on hand
Develop a Construction Plan to Minimize Impact From Renovation Work
The Impact to a property, whether it’s open or closed during renovation work can be huge. When planning your work look at the full property and understand how certain activities will impact each other. Some examples of good planning include the below:
If you’re performing flooring and ceiling work consider starting in different areas and taking different routes through the property. Keep in mind you should finish your ceiling work before starting you floor (that way you aren’t ruining your new floor!).
Mechanical and Electrical services need to be traced and routing understood. Removal or re-work of them may require alteration to the service in areas you were planning on touching. Understand what the impact of this is.
On the same note, understand what type of structural work is required. Structural drawings have a way of not fully communicating the impact on existing ceilings / floors etc required to install something. I’ve been caught a number of times tearing out ceilings I wasn’t planning on tearing out because an engineer wanted a beam reinforced from the bottom.