#TipTime: Tackling Unforeseen Conditions

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   June 28, 2016
#TipTime: Tackling Unforeseen Conditions

Unforeseen existing conditions are traditionally the dominant contributor to additional costs on renovation projects. Some of these conditions are more easily identified than others during the assessment and preconstruction phases of a project. Let’s look at an example from a recent Swinerton Management & Consulting project.

The image below showcases one of the more identifiable and costly unforeseen conditions that was discovered in a ceiling above a corridor; wall penetrations were not fire-caulked, j-boxes were left uncovered with exposed abandoned wiring, and (most costly) the top of the existing wall on the inside of the rated corridor assembly was re-fireproofed.   


In the referenced condition, the corridor side sheetrock terminates at the underside of the floor/roof above it, providing the necessary fit and rating. On the opposite side of the assembly, the sheetrock terminates at the underside of a fireproofed beam. With the irregular surface of the fireproofing, it is impossible to have the top of the sheetrock meet this surface and provide the proper fit to achieve the required rating.

The correct procedure that should have been executed initially at the time of original construction was to hand-pack new fireproofing in the voids between the existing fireproofing and the existing sheetrock; in a three-story building with 60,000-square-foot floor plates and two long corridors per floor, these additional costs can accumulate tens of thousands of dollars per floor.

Our recommendation for dealing with these potential costs in the future is for the design team to make this a focus, particularly in older buildings, and if necessary, perform destructive testing, especially above corridor ceilings. It is critical to understand the fire ratings of these spaces and the type of construction so that the work can be bid competitively.

The construction manager should be involved in these assessments and bring attention to any concerns discovered during the constructability review.  With this knowledge in hand, the client, construction manager, and architect can then designate appropriate allowances in the bid documents to better control these additional costs.