Bridging the Gap Between Construction Closeouts and Facilities

David Trask| February 20, 2019

Imagine being six months into the management of a new building and you’re still waiting for the construction close-out package. A pipe bursts at 2 a.m. in Room 2365 on the 3rd floor. How will you find the water shutoff? How long will it take? How much will the damages cost? Every hour the water runs and inflicts damage…the more money the emergency costs the organization.

Or, let’s say you engage with an architect to develop plans to renovate three rooms on the third floor of a ten year old building. Where do you find the most current As-builts? Do they include the TI’s that were made four years ago? If the right documents don’t get handed off to the architect, you may be in for expensive change orders.

These scenarios and others were discussed during a highly-attended webinar – Bridging the Gap Between Construction Closeouts and Facilities – hosted by FacilitiesNet and sponsored by ARC. Attendees listened in as David Trask, National Director of Facilities Solutions at ARC, stressed that having instant access to Conformed As-builts is a key component of efficient facilities management.

Conformed As-builts are the most up-to-date drawings that represent the complete history of design and construction-related changes for newly-constructed buildings and renovation projects or tenant improvements (TIs) for existing buildings. These documents are essential to facility project managers who are overseeing construction projects and facilities teams who use this building information for day-to-day service response and during emergencies.

That’s why ensuring the successful handoff of a construction project close-out package is extremely important to facilities teams.

How Maintaining Current As-builts Can Go Off the Rails

Trask walked attendees through the challenges that arise with As-builts during different stages and types of construction projects, and once the building is in operation:

  • Design – Before construction begins it’s not uncommon for there to be a number of requests for design changes. They must all be captured in the form of updated drawings or the close-out package will not be accurate or complete.
  • Build – When construction is in process, revisions may be made in the form of change orders and can often cause delays. Again, all of these changes need to be documented.
  • New Buildings – Building operations can not wait for delivery of the close-out package. Given that 90 percent of project closeouts are still paper-based it often takes 6 – 12 months from the time a project is completed for a general contractor to complete the close-out package.

Essentially, facility teams operate in the dark until they receive the documents. If they make any modifications to equipment or the building itself, it’s impossible to document those updates without the close-out drawings in hand.

Another challenge arises when the documents are delivered. While they may be primarily paper-based, it’s not unusual for information to arrive in other formats: 3-ring Binders, BIM Models, and/or USB drives are a few examples. It’s a headache and creates barriers to efficient facilities management when facilities technicians have to search through multiple formats of building information.

  • Existing Older Buildings – Current As-builts are essential when it comes time to renovate or make other building improvements. It’s common that team members with the longest tenure possess the knowledge about which drawings are the most current. What if they are on vacation or worse yet, retired?

If the architect uses outdated drawings it’s highly likely that it won’t be discovered until construction begins which will increase the likelihood of change orders that can cost thousands of dollars.

Whenever a TI gets completed, what’s typically handed off is a paper drawing of only the section of the building that was touched by the project. Think of it as a single puzzle piece. What facilities teams need to see is that TI in the context of the entire building history.

So far, all of the examples about what can result when Conformed As-builts aren’t maintained during the design and construction phases. Trask then covered the impact of missing As-builts when buildings are operational.

Missing As-builts Lead to Other Facilities Management Misses

There are several ways missing As-builts can impact Facilities teams:

  • Productivity and customer service suffers when facilities technicians can’t find the building information they need to complete work orders.
  • Retiring workers often leave before their institutional knowledge can be captured and documented for future reference.
    Onboarding becomes costly when new hires must shadow other workers rather than getting up to speed quickly with mobile access to building information.
  • Preventive maintenance tasks get missed which results in expensive repairs and overtime – up to 50 hours per month per team.

Starting Off Right with New Construction and Renovations Requires Digital Options

Whether the current state of a building is brand new or 20 years old with multiple renovations or TIs, having instant access to the most current As-builts is essential.

Trask revealed ARC Facilities as a software solution that addresses the challenges of capturing Conformed As-builts and other essential information throughout the Design, Build and Operate lifecycle of the built environment. All versions of documents can easily be captured and stored in a cloud-based digital repository for instant retrieval from mobile devices and sharing by facilities teams.

When facility teams make the creation of a digital repository for all documents related to new construction or renovation projects a project specification, they put themselves in the driver’s seat for successful facilities operation and maintenance – post-construction. It’s a win-win situation. General contractors get paid sooner and facilities teams can operate more efficiently sooner.

Attendees learned what an action plan for bridging the gap between construction closeouts and facilities management should include:

  • Go digital with building information
  • Convert to cloud-based storage and retrieval
  • Be mobile
  • Use solutions like ARC Facilities that are:
    • Easy-to-use
    • Collaborative
    • Save Time
    • IT approved – makes their jobs easier
  • Include project spec that requires digital delivery of project close-out
  • Launch succession planning
  • Hire Millennials to complement your team – they are more tech-savvy
  • There was an active Q&A session during which Webcast attendees submitted a number of questions that indicated a high degree of interest and demand for this solution. One of the top questions from several attendees was “how do these documents get captured and updated throughout the project?”

Trask stated that if they are working with ARC, their professional services team partners with the facilities teams to structure the digital repository, ingest existing plans and hyperlink them to ensure a comprehensive view of building history. Once set up, project and facility team members can easily upload and update documents on-the-fly. The changes are then synced with the building information repository for access by others.

Moving Forward to a Better Way

Find out how ARC Facilities helps facilities teams streamline storage, updating and access to new construction or renovation project documents and puts them in control of managing built environments with ease. Productivity increases, customer service levels go up, emergency response times shrink, preventive maintenance tasks get completed on time, and overtime costs go down.

About the author

David Trask National Director - Facilities Solutions, ARC

David Trask has presented at IFMA World Workplace, IFMA Facilities Fusion, ASHE, AIIM, Facilities Expo, Construct Canada and numerous other events across the U.S. and Canada with a focus on helping organizations better manage their facility information. Trask shares Facility best practices in Healthcare, Municipalities, K-12 School Districts, Universities, Federal Agencies, Retail and Private Owner Groups while providing key takeaways that can be put into practice in your business.