Why Hire a Building Envelope Consultant?

GCI Consultants Building Envelope

Water intrusion is the most common and yet the most destructive issue for the structural integrity of a building.  Thus, hiring a qualified building envelope consultant offers a reasonable assurance against problems and pitfalls developing before, during or after construction.

This powerful statement is sometimes enough to secure an assignment.  However, perhaps due to today’s tough economic environment, more often than not, a more elaborate answer is required to convince prospective clients that hiring a building envelope consultant is worth their investment.  When GCI is in that scenario, we begin by explaining the basics, and then continue by describing specific services.
So, what are the “basics?”  Simply put, a building envelope consultant focuses on solving or preventing performance problems associated with the enclosures of buildings. The building envelope includes:

  • exterior glass curtain walls and storefronts
  • windows and doors
  • wall systems
  • roofs and skylights
  • balconies
  • and at-grade and below-grade slabs, foundations and basements.

The role of the consultant is to collaborate with owners, designers and builders of construction projects to create high performance building envelope systems.  For existing buildings, we perform investigations of envelope performance problems, which often lead to remedial design and/or management of replacement or rehabilitation programs.

And, what are the “specifics?”

  1. On construction projects, the consultant can offer design assistance to architects, developers/owners and general contractors; from design development through construction documents; for all building envelope systems and details.
  2. The building envelope consultant provides reviews of plans and specifications, shop drawings and submittals to identify potential problems and recommend solutions before installation.
  3. We also conduct pre-installation meetings and perform quality control inspections and testing of materials and products during construction.
  4. Similarly, on existing projects the building envelope consultant can investigate and identify envelope performance problems, develop repair scopes including plans and specifications, obtain bids, oversee repairs and provide construction management services.
  5. As an independent, third-party inspector of the construction phase for both new and existing projects, the consultant ensures that all building envelope systems are properly installed in accordance with design and submittal documents, code requirements, manufacturers’ specifications and industry standards.

So, what’s the bottom-line? A qualified building envelope consultant brings to the table his or her specialized knowledge, experience and understanding of the latest advances in building envelope technologies, as well as proper design and construction practices as related to the envelope systems.  These are valuable assets for any project team, and can result in great savings related to building performance throughout the life of the structure.  We are often told that these cost savings and the building owner’s added peace of mind more than offset the cost of hiring a consultant on the front end of the project.