Client Comfort During Restoration: “What Should the Owner Do?”

Sunil Puri

This is the second installment of a two-part article. The first, published in November, dealt with the issues addressed by the contractor; this takes the owner’s point of view. Editor.
To implement a client-oriented restoration program, an owner or manager should envision his or her responsibilities at three stages of a repair program: Project Planning, Repair Document Preparation and Repair Work Administration.

Stage I – Project Planning
In the project planning stage, the owner should select a consultant who not only is experienced in appraising the existing condition of the parking structure, but also well-versed with multi-phased restoration program design. It is useful for the owner to understand that the design of a such a program is typically based on the following elements:
• Type of repairs planned in the program: e.g., waterproofing, post-tensioning, architectural, and lighting and mechanical equipment.
• Number of parking spaces that can be taken out of service at one time in the parking structure.
• Number of substitute parking spaces available beyond the structure.
• Time durations for peak and lowest occupancy.
• Available funds for the repair program.
• Weather conditions.
The owner would need to provide the restoration consultant with information related to available substitute parking, structure occupancy and availability of funds. In addition, it is crucial for a parking manager or owner to discuss the issue of client safety and comfort with the restoration consultant very early in the project planning.
Although the level of parking comfort during an on-going restoration program will significantly depend upon the type of planned repairs, a restoration consultant can help an owner to understand and envision the multiple levels of parking environment expected during the implementation of different types of repairs.
The restoration consultant also can provide information about the probable discomforts to clients, corresponding solutions to address those discomforts and the approximate costs associated with these solutions. Based on this understanding, the owner should clearly establish in writing the needed level of parking environment and the structural outlook during a restoration program.

Stage II – Repair Document Preparation
During repair document preparation, the owner should be in active communication with the restoration consultant. Based on the repair phases designed by the consultant, the boundaries of the project site for each phase should be discussed and clearly established.
The owner should keep in mind that irrespective of location of the actual repair work of each phase and in addition to parking floor levels, the project site boundary may include stair towers, elevators, pedestrian walkways, exits and entrances to adjoining buildings, and connection bridges.
The owner should review a draft copy of the construction documents to ensure that these boundaries are well-marked in the project drawings and are documented in the specifications as per his or her needs.
Attention should also be paid that the repair document package includes traffic control and wayfinding drawings depicting alternative routes. Proper implementation of vehicular traffic control can be ensured by reviewing and discussing the traffic control drawings before the initiation of repair work. These drawings should provide easy-to-follow alternative routes for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Figure 1 shows a typical traffic control drawing for a restoration project. Notice that one-way traffic is converted into two-way traffic to accommodate ongoing repair work in the structure’s northeast section (Gridlines 7-12 / B-C). Also note that loss of parking is not limited to the repair area; rather, additional parking spaces (Gridlines 1-7 / A-B) are rendered unusable to provide the alternative driving routes.
The effectiveness of traffic control during a restoration project strongly relies on the selection of proper temporary signage. Properly installed, it should cover the four zones: advanced warning area, transition area, repair activity area and the termination area. In addition, the location of construction equipment and vehicles for each repair phase should be discussed and coordinated in advance, as should temporary accessible parking. While physical barriers provide the effective means to divert pedestrian and vehicular traffic away from the project site, additional barriers related to air and sound should also be considered as needed. Although the size and type of barriers would be selected by the contractor based on OSHA regulations, an experienced restoration consultant can provide information related to the types of barriers available and the expected protection from these barriers.
Location of air-conditioning vents for adjacent buildings should be brought into discussion with the consultant. The owner should communicate with him or her to specify public-friendly construction materials in the repair documents. The demolition techniques planned for the repair program also should be discussed. Based on the cost comparison and the demolition effectiveness, the technique causing minimum interference in the parking operations should be considered.
An owner should make sure that the contractor qualification form in the bid package requests each bidding contractor to provide his or her experience in multi-phased restoration programs for parking structures. Before finalizing the contractor for the project, the feedback from the contractor’s references should be discussed with the restoration consultant.

Stage III – Repair Work Administration
Proactive steps covered in Stages I and II of a repair program set up a platform for owners to be effective in Stage III of the project. Before initiation of this stage, the boundaries of each repair phase and the anticipated timeline for repairs should be communicated to the clients. This information can be shared by e-mails, handouts, posters and brochures.
The owner should participate in the pre-construction meeting with the contractor and restoration consultant. Although repair documents provide details about expected client comfort and safety, it is in the owner’s interests to present important aspects of this topic in the pre-construction meeting. This strategy helps to make all parties cognizant of the significance of this issue. The owner should discuss the traffic control measures with the project team in every phase of the planned repairs.
At the start of the project, the drawings depicting
boundary lines of the ongoing phase of the repair program can be posted on the business’ website. These postings can be
regularly updated for each repair phase. The owner should regularly review the field visit reports submitted by the restoration consultant. Occasional walk-through review of the project site during the repair program, preferably along with the consultant, helps to discuss and point out items affecting client comfort.
(Although site safety is the responsibility of the contractor and field reviews is the service provided mostly by the restoration consultant, the owner can easily observe the items listed in the sidebar nearby in a visual walk-through review of the project site.)
Any non-compliance related to the issues presented above should be discussed immediately with the contractor’s field superintendent. Updating the restoration consultant about the issues noticed on the project site would help not only to document them, but also to attain another opinion on this matter. The consultant can help direct the contractor’s personnel to the appropriate information related to the issue in the project drawings and specifications.

The process of parking structure maintenance needs to be planned with the comfort and safety of users in mind. An experienced restoration consultant and a diligent contractor are the keys to achieving a successful client-oriented repair project. Because the quality of the parking operations and service correlates to the continuous stream of revenue from clients, the owner should take a leading role in ensuring that the ongoing repair work does not jeopardize the users’ safety and comfort.

Sunil Puri is with Walker Parking Consultants. He can be reached at


Items that Can be Visually Observed by the Owner in a Walk-through Review of the Project Site:
• Barriers are of sufficient height to prevent trespassing.
• Debris and dust-control barriers are effective.
• No construction material is stored at unapproved locations.
• No materials-handling equipment is parked in a drive aisle.
• Public-access area is clear of any oil, water or chemical spillage.
• Electrical cables and temporary utilities are properly protected.
• Proper lighting arrangements are available around the project boundaries.
• Disposable waste is not accumulated on the job site.
• Walkways for pedestrians are protected by a canopy, as needed.
• Temporary signage diverts vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Article Abstract from January, 2008

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