Architects and Engineers: Take the guesswork out of Asbestos Inspections and Abatement Design

7/7/2017 |

Category: Asbestos

When it comes to designing, executing and managing sizable demolition or renovation projects, Architectural or Engineering firms need to reduce or eliminate unanticipated or unnecessary costs to maximize profitability. This is obvious.

What’s often not obvious is that with every New York State demolition or renovation project, the detection, remediation planning and abatement of asbestos has the potential to bog down timelines, balloon budgets or, if not done properly, have significant financial and legal consequences.

This is because almost all buildings constructed prior to 1980 in New York typically contain asbestos in one form or another. As such, it’s critical to bring in a well-credentialed detection and remediation planning consultant that, beyond being an expert in asbestos (as well as other hazardous materials), fully understands large-scale projects from an architectural or engineering firm’s viewpoint.

The first part of this consideration is making sure your partner is an expert in the detection and planning for abatement of hazardous materials. What are the key attributes you should look for in this regard?

Time in business - the learning curve in this business can be steep; it often takes a decade (or two) for a company to experience the wide variety of detection and abatement scenarios to be found in commercial, industrial, medical and larger residential buildings.

Quality of inspectors - the quality of service an environmental detection firm delivers is a function of the inspectors and planners the firm employs. Look for consultancies with fully-credentialed, well-trained employees exhibiting low rates of turnover as this indicates an understanding of processes, logistics and core businesses.

Multiple inspection disciplines - often the presence of asbestos in older buildings is indicative of construction practices which would include other hazardous substances. As such, more responsive and efficient firms retain inspectors well-versed in and licensed across a variety of environmental hazard scenarios.

Direct owner or partner involvement - no matter how well-credentialed and experienced the inspection team, the involvement of company owners or partners ensures responsiveness and dependability. Their direct involvement generally increases the overall quality of the service platform.

Beyond these core competencies within the domain of asbestos detection and remediation planning, there are traits in a partner which Architecture and Engineering firms should seek that are unique to large-scale demolition and renovation projects. These types of projects can be achieved with greater accuracy, efficiency and cost-effectiveness by hazardous material detection consultants exhibiting the following attributes unique to their business are hired:

Flexible, responsive and available - large scale jobs, especially those executed by firms with many projects, are subject to change. Therefore, hazardous material detection sub-contractors that can deal with short notice, around-the-clock availability and emergency response situations are better suited for these type of engagements.

Predictable pricing - while competitive pricing is important to protect margins, accurate pricing is even more critical in large-scale, multi-faceted projects. Lowball bids that must be modified upward can cause timeline delays; endanger other budget line items and damage company/client credibility.

Active facility operation - many large scale renovations; especially in urban environments, take place in active facilities where vocational or residential disruption must be kept to a minimum. Experience in work area containment and practices that provide building occupant/critical system safety is essential.

Streamlined integration ability - with most major demolition or renovation projects, design firms contend with a vast and varied matrix of steps in the planning and building process. As such, they require responsible self-starting subcontractors who can integrate to operate responsibly and seamlessly within timelines.

Independent ownership - many hazardous material testing consultancies are subsidiaries of architectural and engineering firms. When you partner with these consultancies, you actually contribute to a competitor’s revenue stream in addition to hiring a business not wholly focused on asbestos detection and abatement planning.

In summary, these general asbestos detection and abatement planning credentials and demolition/renovation-specific capabilities are what separates merely adequate hazardous material consultants from those firms that will truly eliminate the guesswork from what is often an unpredictable element of large-scale construction projects.

At Adelaide, we have been working with Architectural and Engineering firms for almost three and a half decades on projects like these. If you’d like to get our perspective on an upcoming project, please contact us.

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