How to Successfully Manage Building Repair Projects

4 Step Process

March 2017

We’re constantly reminded about the ways a project can go off the rails: budget overruns, poorly defined scopes of work, lack of communication, and contractor deficiencies – just to name a few! These issues often create poor quality projects, and lead to stress, frustration, and extra work for Property Managers.

You can drastically increase your chances of running a successful project by following the Restoration Process. This four-step process is flexible, scalable, and always reliable. As restoration engineers and project managers, this process has become second nature and is engrained in everything we do. The process consists of four steps: Condition Assessment, Bid Documents & Specifications, Tendering to Qualified Contractors, and Construction. For the process to be effective, each step must be followed diligently, at least to some extent – remember, the process is scalable. Let’s take a closer look at each step of the process.

Step 1: Condition Assessment

The purpose of this step is to provide the Owner with the information they need to make an educated decision about how to proceed. Start by asking questions to gain an understanding of the Owner’s objectives and financial constraints. What are they concerned about or trying to accomplish? What is their budget and timeframe?

This next step can be carried out by your engineer or a trusted contractor. They will carry out site visits to determine as built construction details, to assess the extent of the problem, and to carry out any testing or measurements required. Once all the data is collected, an analysis is completed to determine the root cause(s) of the issue and impact on the building. Repair options are then developed along with the pros and cons of each – this is a critical step, there is never just one option. An Owner needs options to make an educated decision. Finally, the engineer will make recommendations based on their experience, taking into consideration the Owner’s objectives and financial constraints.

Once the Owner has been educated about the issue(s), explored the available options, and
received the recommendation of a professional, they are ready to decide on a repair. The next steps
involve preparing a design and contract document package then tendering the work to qualified

Step 2: Bid Documents & Specifications

This step is crucial and often overlooked for small projects – creating Bid Documents &
Specifications that clearly define the owner’s expectations and scope of work. The document must
include a clear, well defined Scope of Work, timelines, a Bid Form, and Contract Conditions. For
larger projects, the Bid Documents and Specifications often include Drawings, Detailed
Specifications, perhaps Optional Items, along with a more elaborate Bid Form and more extensive
Contract Conditions.

Remember – this process is scalable and should be used for projects of all sizes! If your property is
looking to perform low-risk work (i.e. re-landscaping the gardens), draft a brief scope of work to
send to each contractor when soliciting quotes. This is sometimes referred to as a Bid Request. A
lack of clarity in the scope of work will quickly result in confusion, and worse still, you won’t be able
to compare contractor pricing apples-to-apples. This brings us to Step 3: Tendering to Qualified

Step 3: Tendering to Qualified Contractors

Once you’ve decided on a repair and prepared the Bid Documents & Specifications, it’s time to get
pricing from contractors. The first step in this process is to determine which contractors to invite. If
you’re working with an engineer, they may be able to recommend contractors they have worked
with before. In any case, insist that each contractor be called first to gauge their interest and
availability to complete the work within your desired timeline. Only inviting contractors that are
hungry for work and available to meet your timelines is a great way to get sharp pricing and give
your project the best chance to be completed on time and on budget.

The tender process can be formal or informal. A formal tender process would include a mandatory
site meeting with all contractors to discuss the project, a period for questions and responses, and a
firm closing date, time, and location for the sealed bids to be submitted. An informal process, best
suited to smaller projects, would simply involve sending your Bid Documents & Specifications
document to the contractors and requesting pricing.

One further way to scale this process is by changing the number of invited bidders. For a small
project, a minimum of 3 bidders is appropriate. For larger projects, you may invite 6-10 bidders to
encourage competitive pricing.

After the bids are received, evaluate each bid based on price, schedule, and other factors, like
contractor experience or familiarity with the property. For complex projects, have your engineer
perform a sensitivity analysis on unit rate items to assess risk and help develop a sensible
contingency allowance for the project. Once your project budgets are set and you have selected a
bidder, we can begin Construction.

Step 4: Construction

The construction phase is a big one. There are lots of ways that it can go wrong, so we’re going to identify a few key areas to focus on.

The first step is to award the project to a contractor. This is typically in the form of a letter or issuing a PO. For large projects, formal Contract and Permit packages will be prepared. The permit application can add time to your project – if a building permit is required, consider having your engineer apply for the permit to expedite this process.

When the project value exceeds about $50,000, consider using a standard CCDC Contract. This contract forms an agreement between the Owner and the Contractor, and affords powers to the Consultant to act as an arbitrator to resolve disputes in a fair and equitable manner.

Before the contractor mobilizes, be sure to obtain insurance certificates and WSIB forms. We recently completed a project where a resident slipped on a ramp built by the contractor. The resident sued the Owner, and the Owner asked us if we had the insurance certificate. It was not only good enough that we had the certificate, but also that it named all parties as additionally insured.

Once you are ready to begin the work, hold a project kick off or start-up meeting a few weeks before the project starts. This forms a solid foundation for a successful project. The meeting agenda includes items such as schedule, quality control, budget, communication, where to park, where to place the disposal bins, etc. Without this meeting, there will always be uncertainty, lack of clarity of expectation, and more headaches!

During the work, your engineer will complete periodic site visits to check compliance with the specifications and good building practice. We recommend that before any major phase of the project starts that the engineer and contractor meet to discuss the expectations for the project – unfortunately this is often the first time the contractor crews on site have read the specifications. Setting expectations helps avoid issues and conflicts. As work progresses, the contractor will submit progress draws (typically monthly) and the engineer will review them and produce a Certificate for payment. Payment should only be made to a contractor for completed work and work completed properly. Each payment will include a 10% holdback. This 10% is not to cover the cost of deficiencies, it is required by law to protect the interests of sub-contractors and suppliers. If there are deficiencies full payment should not be released.

If there are unforeseen circumstances that change the project schedule or budget – communicate, communicate, communicate! By keeping all stakeholders informed, you can alleviate stress and avoid conflict."