This month and in the next three months, I will be sharing my experience pertaining to a design engineer who is responsible for the construction administration of the project he just completed the design for, with construction underway. The four parts to this discussion are:

  • Preparing and attending the construction meeting
  • Preparing and completing a construction site field visit
  • Preparing and assist in equipment/system startup
  • Preparing and completing an HVAC project closeout punch list

Preparing and attending the construction meeting

As a rule, construction meetings associated with trade contractors are facilitated by the general contractor, construction manager, design-builder, or IPD (integrated project delivery) builder, and more specifically by the mechanical-electrical coordinator. The design engineer is an invited guest at these meetings. In preparing for the meeting, and for this discussion, we will assume these meetings occur during the shopdrawing submittal phase of the project.

From a time management point of view and as a good project manager the design engineer should spend time preparing for the upcoming meeting so that he efficiently performs his company’s contract administration requirements. To do this efficiently, he should complete the following:

  • Create a checklist and then begin compiling the necessary documents. Ideally, all of the documentation should be on a tablet or some other electronic device that allows the designer to pull up the specific document needed for the job site visit.
  • Be familiar with Division 1 General Conditions and any Supplementary Conditions, and have the specific sections uploaded to the handheld computer for quick reference in case questions arise at the construction meeting.

Important contract documents to have uploaded at the shop drawing phase of the work are:

  • Division 1 specifications that address shop drawing submittal, O&M manual, training, filed coordination, and project close-out. It is important to get the message out that Division 1 applies to each subcontractor, as well as the individual trade specifications.
  • Have the HVAC specification and an answer for any conflict between the Division 1 specification and the specific trade specification (something that occurs often because the design engineers and specification writer fail to coordinate tasks like shopdrawing submittal, etc., during the design phase).
  • A helpful hint is to create a “cheat sheet” in advance to be able to quickly refer to when the design engineer gets “push back” from the trades because they haven’t looked at Division 1 and/or their trade specification (another thing that occurs often).

The design engineer should always remember when in the company of the trade contractors that the prime contractor is responsible for the contract documents no matter what the subcontractor has interpreted. 

Prior to the construction meeting, the design engineer should contact the meeting facilitator in an email (always maintain a paper trail throughout the project) noting what you want to see discussed, what needs to be agreed upon, and what you want to come away with from this meeting. 

 Next month: “preparing and completing a construction administration tour of the site.”