For those consulting engineers and HVAC contractors involved in a client’s building program there are five project delivery methods to take this program to fruition. These delivery methods, based on ASHRAE 2020 Handbook, HVAC Systems, and Equipment, Chapter 1, Figure 1. Process Flow Diagram are:

  • Design-Bid-Build (D-B-B);
  • Design-Build (D-B);
  • Construction Management (CM);
  • Integrated Project Delivery (IPD); and
  • Performance Contracting.

Dropping off performance contract as a hybrid project delivery, the other four methods all share the same project close out requirements:  

  • HVAC equipment and system training;
  • Operation and maintenance (O&M) manuals;
  • Preventive maintenance (PM) work orders (not always a contract document requirement); and
  • Warranty.  

I have a favorite phrase: “Begin to close out the project at the start” that usually doesn’t occur to the client’s detriment. Historically, training, O&M manuals, and warranties are part of the contractor’s close out phase as the construction job nears its end. I always ask, “Why is that?”

In the “preconstruction phase,” which begins soon after the client and contractor sign an owner-contractor contract, the equipment submittals begin to come in from manufacturers. The HVAC contractor and design engineer, in that order, are required to review and approve submittals for the project based on the contract documents (drawings and specification).  

After all approvals, equipment will begin to show up on-site based on the contractor’s installation, startup, and commissioning schedule. Simultaneously, the client’s facility staff will begin to receive instructions and O&M manuals. The warranty documents usually don’t show up on the client’s desk until the job is completed, and, often, individual equipment warranties may not even make that submission.

So, why do contractors wait until the very end, when the close out process can begin immediately after the various HVAC equipment submittals are approved in the pre-construction phase? Years ago, an HVAC contractor’s project manager told me, “That is the process so why change it?” I’ve always advocated the following be inserted into the up-front general conditions and supplementary conditions:

Within 45 days after equipment submittal approval, the contractor shall submit the following to the consulting engineer:

  • Equipment O&M manuals, including parts and material, trouble-shooting checklist, adjustments, etc.
  • Not always specified by others, I would always require each equipment manufacturer to fill in a standardized PM work order template that included space for special instructions, tools to bring, tasks, and frequency needed to maintain the equipment throughout the year.
  • Training schedule, along with a training agenda via PowerPoint, that includes prerequisites the facility staff had to read/review the approved submittal, the approved O&M manual, etc. in advance of training that may occur on-site, in the classroom, and/or require a trip to the factory.
  • Warranty document(s) with the start date left blank until the client accepts the project and/or equipment.

Unlike D-B-B, the CM, D-B, and IPD project delivery methods offer the best means to “begin to close out the project at the start,” because the communication lines between the client, design team, and construction team are far better than D-B-B.