When to Partner with a Building Envelope Specialist
Between the intricacies of today’s modern building designs, the proliferation of new construction materials, the complexities of current building codes, and the natural wear-and-tear on existing structures, it is little surprise that more construction projects these days involve the consulting services of a building envelope specialist.
This important professional coordinates with building owners, developers, architects, project management teams, and construction teams to help them solve and prevent building envelope issues while meeting building code and quality assurance standards.
In many cases, if not most, hiring a building envelope consultant at the beginning of the construction process can avert more costly issues down the road.
But what, exactly, is a building envelope specialist, and more importantly, when should you consider partnering with one? Let’s delve into these questions in a bit more detail.
The Role of the Building Envelope Consultant
The building envelope (also known as the building enclosure) is one of the most important aspects of any structure. The building envelope is the sum of all building components separating the inside from the outside, including:
- Roofing systems
- Exterior wall systems (including curtain walls)
- Windows and doors
- Balconies and terraces
- Slabs, foundations, and basements
Building envelope specialists concern themselves with how well building systems protect a structure against water intrusion, water vapor, air, light, heat, and even noise. They bring extensive knowledge of building science to the table in evaluating issues related to waterproofing systems, energy efficiency, heat resistance, quality of construction materials, and more.
When Is a Building Envelope Specialist Helpful?
A building envelope specialist can add value and help property stakeholders avoid problems during a new construction project or renovation project. They can also help with evaluating building performance or troubleshooting problems with existing structures. Let’s look at some specifics.
The building envelope consultant can work with architects, developers, contractors, and design teams through every stage of envelope design development and the pre-construction process. These responsibilities may include reviewing plans, shop drawings, specifications, construction documents, and submittals to look for any unforeseen areas of concern and make recommendations. Involving the specialist early on can save investors and contractors considerable time and money by helping them avoid costly mistakes.
The building envelope specialist can be an indispensable asset throughout the construction process. They can perform quality control inspections, test products, and materials to ensure they can perform to standards, and make sure building envelope systems are installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and code requirements. The consultant can also ensure the building materials and construction meet the highest energy efficiency standards and sustainability specifications. For example, if a project is aiming for LEED certification. Finally, the consultant can identify potential issues during construction and develop proposals and scopes for repairs along the way to minimize additional costs for compliance.
Upon completing a construction project, a building envelope specialist may evaluate the building systems to ensure that everything meets desired specifications, and there are no lurking surprises. Think of this as a final quality control check or fine-tuning to make sure the entire building enclosure performs as expected before everyone leaves the job site.
Existing Structure Evaluations
Building codes and energy efficiency requirements change over the years, and buildings inevitably suffer from wear-and-tear as they age.
Building envelope specialists may conduct evaluations on existing structures to identify envelope performance shortfalls, recommend solutions to stakeholders, and even develop plans for upgrades and repairs to bring existing structures up to desired standards.
Frequently, particularly in older buildings, owners may notice subtle changes like increased energy bills, increased noise, signs of water intrusion, etc.
When the issue isn’t obvious (e.g., a noticeable roof leak), a building envelope specialist can investigate and find the source of the problem(s), develop repair scopes, gather bids, and even help oversee the repair process, as needed.
Invest Now, Save Later
Perhaps the greatest value a building envelope consultant brings to the table is the money saved down the road. Partnering with an expert at the beginning of the construction process is an important preventative measure to stop costly issues before they start and solve small problems before they become big ones. At RoofSource, we have many highly qualified building envelope specialists within our network, and we’d be happy to provide a referral for your next construction project. Contact RoofSource today to learn more.