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Facility Manager’s Rx for Building Success


By Bob Bailey, AIA, CCS

Maybe you just joined a health-care facility and are taking on a new construction project. Maybe this is your first big project with a new employer.

Or maybe you are living through a building project and/or dealing with all of the construction details without a construction background.

Facility managers understand how to manage property, but they may not be familiar with construction documents.

Meanwhile, critical information and requirements lurk in the Project Manual that accompanies the drawings for a construction project.

© / Squaredpixels

Knowing what to look for in the construction specifications can help facility managers avert extra expense and problems later on.

Understanding what to look for will help you ensure a successful project.  Keep these “Top 5” in mind to make your next project go more smoothly.

1. 'Front End' Documents

Officially, these are procurement/bidding requirements, contracting requirements, and general requirements.

Many health-care organizations have developed their own documents for these requirements. If yours is among them, verify that your design professional is using the latest edition of them.

If your facility does not have its own front-end documents, carefully review the ones that the design professional has drafted and make sure they meet your organization's needs.

Your facility’s input will be required for healthcare-specific items such as infection-control risk assessment and the procedures required to mitigate the risk.

Also remember that the general (Division 1) requirements apply to all of the technical specification sections. Thus, they address not only the contractor’s administrative requirements, but also building product criteria and execution requirements.

The bidding and contracting requirements should reflect the procedures that are preferred by, and will best serve, your organization.

2. Facility Standards

Here, we are talking about items that organizations often select and standardize facility-wide. These include door hardware (keyed cylinders, locksets, door closers and exit hardware); specialized communications items such as emergency codes and their means of alert; and nurse call systems.

© / Squaredpixels

From soap dispensers to communications systems to door hardware, many items in a large healthcare facility may be standardized. Facility managers must become acquainted with these.

Standards may extend to:

  • Washroom items purchased from a preferred vendor such as hand sanitizers and paper towel, toilet tissue and soap dispensers;
  • Floor coverings, ceiling materials, paint and other finish materials;
  • Fixed furnishings such as headwalls; and
  • Building signage (and fabricator).

In each case, be sure that the specifications agree with your facility standards.  Discrepancies could leave your facility paying for products it doesn’t want.

3. Quality Control

Where construction involves structural steel work, cast-in-place concrete, masonry, soil conditions and similar engineering issues, the International Building Code requires verification and inspection of this work. That code also requires the owner (or the design professional as the owner’s agent) to employ the agency for the verification and inspection.

Your design professional can direct you to qualified testing and inspection agencies, but your facility must be prepared to pay for structural verifications and inspections. The specifications need to be written to correctly reflect those requirements.

Depending on the scope of the project, field quality control is recommended for elements of the building envelope and for the doors and windows.

This may include inspection and testing of air barriers in wall assemblies, flood testing of horizontal waterproofing, water infiltration testing of fenestration, and inspection of fire-stopping at penetrations and joints.

© / toddmedia

The International Building Code requires verification and inspection of structural steel work, cast-in-place concrete, masonry, soil conditions and similar engineering issues.

Healthcare-specific assemblies that require testing are radiation shielding and radio frequency shielding. The facility’s physicist often performs the radiation shielding test, while the RF shielding supplier or installer typically performs that testing in the presence of the owner (and architect if there is one).

4. Warranties

Specifications should call for warranties for roofing systems, wall panel systems, fenestration/glazing systems, and other critical assemblies.

Roofing warranties can be particularly complex. Review these carefully with the design professional—possibly with a technical rep from the roofing manufacturer that will provide the basis for the project's design.

Wear warranties on floor coverings and warranties on high-performance paint finishes for exterior wall panels and fenestration are also important. Specifications should ensure that all warranties your facility owns are submitted when the project concludes.

5. Extra Materials

Also known as “attic stock” or maintenance materials, these will be needed at the facility to replace materials that become damaged or worn.

© / Alexei Cruglicov

Specifications should detail requirements for extra tiles, carpets, ceiling panels, paint, assemblies and other materials that are likely to need replacement.

Such items include resilient floor tile and wall base, modular carpet tile, ceiling panels, paint and special assemblies that use replaceable components such as impact-resistant wall guards.

The specifications should call for extra stock to be furnished. Two to five percent of the quantity of the material installed is typical. Ideally, the extra comes from the same production run so that it matches the original materials in color, texture and pattern. Extra materials should be packaged, labeled and ready for storage.

Taking 5

Overall, you know your property best. Understanding the history of recent construction projects, their delivery method, and their challenges or successes will help you on projects moving forward.

Making sure these five items are addressed in your project’s construction specifications will give you an edge and help you shine as a qualified professional—whether you are new or a veteran presence.


Bob Bailey, AIA, CCS

A full-time specifier for more than 25 years, Bob Bailey, AIA, CCS, CSI, LEED AP, is Specifications and Constructability Specialist for IKM Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA. An award-winning specifications writer, Bob is the founder of the Pittsburgh Specifiers' Roundtable and immediate past president of CSI Pittsburgh. His professional passions: continuing education and internship development. Contact Bob.



Tagged categories: Architects; Good Technical Practice; IKM Inc.; LEED; Specifiers; Building envelope; Building materials; Fenestration; Health Care/Hospitals; North America; Roof coatings; Specification; Wall

Comment from Sharon Campbell, (4/6/2016, 10:21 AM)

Great information for the "newbies"

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