Common issues and how commissioning can help

June 27, 2018

 

 

I have been performing commissioning services for 11 years how and over these years I have seen some reoccurring issues in projects. These issues not only cause headaches for the Owner, but for the Design Team, Project Managers, and Contractors as well.  I will list these issues out per individual group and as you read through the list you will notice some repeating items, because many times, the same issue impacts more than one team member and resolving this issue benefits multiple parties. At the end of this post I will tell you how incorporating commissioning into your project can help to alleviate these issues.

 

The list of issues identified below are examples of common issues that I have seen over the years, see if any of them look familiar to you.

 

Building Owner

  • Delays in schedule

  • Excessive change-orders

  • Increased cost

  • Building not functioning properly

  • Utility usage higher than expected

Design Team

  • Lack of coordination between trades prior to construction documents going out

  • Equipment and systems do not get installed as they were indicated on the construction documents

  • Equipment and systems do not operate as intended

  • Excessive change-orders, RFI’s, etc.

  • Occupant and Owner complaints after occupancy

Project Manager

  • Delays in schedule

  • Excessive change-orders, RFI’s, etc.

  • Increased cost

  • Building trades not coordinating work amongst themselves

  • Lack of detail and clarity in construction documents

Contractors

  • Lack of coordination between trades

  • Lack of detail and clarity in construction documents

  • Excessive change-orders, RFI’s, etc.

  • Delays in schedule

 

Now let’s look at how commissioning can help alleviate these issues.

  • Delays in schedule. Commissioning can help reduce schedule delays in several ways. One way is by utilizing a technical commissioning approach (to learn more about that, click to see our FAQ post here) to keep the burden of filling out paperwork and testing time off the Contractors and keep that burden on the Commissioning Agent. Another way commissioning can help reduce schedule delays is through incorporating document reviews during the design phase into the commissioning scope of work. Whenever the Contractors have a detailed and clear set of bid documents to work with, this reduces RFI’s (request for information), change-orders and such. All these things take precious time during the construction process.

  • Excessive change-orders, RFI’s, etc. By incorporating commissioning reviews during the construction document phases, we can help reduce change-orders, RFI’s, etc. which are caused from lack of coordination, detail and clarity of the bid documents.

  • Increased cost. By reviewing construction documents for coordination, detail, and clarity we can reduce change-orders, RFI’s, etc. which drive the cost of the project up. See blog post about this topic.

  • Lack of coordination between trades. Having an engaged commissioning agent and by utilizing a technical commissioning approach, we can help to facilitate coordination amongst trades. Another tool for increasing coordination between trades is utilizing mock-up installations of common installations (i.e., variable-air-volume (VAV) box, finned tube radiation, window installation, etc.). Mock-ups provide an opportunity to have all trades review the installation and discuss up-front any issues or concerns before moving onto full scale installations.

  • Lack of detail and clarity in construction documents as well as lack of coordination between trades in construction documents prior to going out to bid. By reviewing construction documents a minimum of 2 times we can help to facilitate coordination amongst the Design Team. It is also helpful to have a fresh set of eyes looking things over. Remember – a commissioning review is NOT a peer review! We look for coordination between trades, appropriate details for the equipment being designed/installed, adequate clarity and detail in specifications and sequences of operations, constructability and serviceability, etc.

  • Occupant and Owner complaints after occupancy. Commissioning helps by ensuring that equipment and systems function and perform as intended, complaints related to indoor air quality, temperature control, HVAC noise, etc. are greatly reduced if not eliminated.

  • Equipment and systems do not operate as intended/building not functioning as intended. Commissioning ensures that equipment and systems are installed and operating per the design intent through functional performance testing.

  • Utility usage higher than expected. By ensuring all equipment and systems are operating correctly and systems are not fighting each other such as simultaneous heating and cooling (unless this is intended as part of a dehumidification sequence within an air handling unit) we can reduce energy usage. See blog post about this topic.

  • Equipment and systems did not get installed per construction documents. Commissioning ensures that equipment and systems are installed and per the design intend through thorough prefunctional checklists. We also make sure that the installations meet the manufacturers recommendations and have sufficient installation clearances for future service.

 

By incorporating commissioning into your project, especially early during the design phase, we can bring value and help alleviate problems for all team members involved in a building project. Eliminating these problems saves time, warranty call-backs, frustrations, and MONEY!

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