By Justin Tudor. P.Eng
The leaves are already starting to change colour and will soon be falling into those seemingly endless blankets on front lawns. That means one thing: fall is upon us and winter is coming! As tempting as it would be to snuggle up by the fire and concentrate on keeping warm during the cold months, now is the time to start planning what projects your condominium corporation might need to address in 2022.
Spring restoration projects begin in the fall.
Why start planning now? Money and time!
The main reason to start planning your spring/summer capital projects now is the potential cost savings. Contractors are inclined to pursue and price projects more aggressively earlier in the year to ensure that they have full projects scheduled to keep their crews busy spring through fall. The potential for savings can be increased by holding a formal job showing and pursuing a competitive tender.
When work is scheduled to take place early in the season, it is likely that the project will carry over into fall or even winter months.
Many projects were deferred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This resulted in a late season influx of 2021 projects, rendering it almost impossible to find a contractor to undertake fall restoration projects this year. The early bird caught the worm in 2021, and it’s looking like they will again in 2022.
An ideal timeline for projects that aim to begin as soon as weather permits, usually late March or early April, is as follows:
- October to December: Work with your engineer to develop the project scope of work and overall design
- January to early February: Hold the job showing, receive bids, and select the contractor to complete the work
- February to early March: Contractor has time to order materials and prepare project schedule, subject for Board review
- Late March to early April: Work commences
Remember, large projects take time to plan and implement. Going into a project with the “Do this as fast as possible” mindset can end up costing you more money!
Where do we start?
The first step to any capital improvement project is to review your last reserve fund study (RFS) or capital plan. Ask yourself:
- What is recommended to be repaired/replaced in the near future?
- When is the last time the condition of this item was reviewed?
- Are multiple large-scale projects scheduled for the same year?
- What needs to be prioritized and what can be postponed?
- Do we have the funds to complete everything that needs to be done?
Keep in mind that the RFS sets repair schedules based on a snapshot of what was seen during the site inspection, which could have been years ago. Reviewing the condition of your building’s components will allow you to make better informed decisions on what needs to be done now, and what can potentially wait.
Does it really need to be done now?
Before altering the scheduling of work from the recommendations made in your last RFS, it is important to review the condition of the item(s) in question. A good example of the importance of reviewing condition is a flat roof on a high-rise building with gravel ballast covering the actual membrane. Has the gravel ever been moved to inspect the condition of the roofing membrane? Has a cut test ever been completed to review the adherence of the membrane to the structural deck? Even if the RFS recommends the roof be replaced next year, can it be postponed if the cut test proves the roofing membrane is in serviceable condition?
Especially at larger or older corporations, it is likely that multiple projects are scheduled for the same calendar year. In order to minimize disruption to the owners, recommended work should be evaluated with the more critical work, such as a roof replacement, being prioritized over less critical work, such as corridor carpet replacement.
Scheduling major restoration projects can have a significant impact on the overall budget and length of the project. Corporations should take the necessary steps in planning these projects now to ensure that the best decisions are being made for both the building and your bank account.
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