Fall is in the air. October is a month of pumpkin patches, ciders, lots of football, beautiful leaves that are changing colors, and much more… This time of year also brings Halloween!
In honor of the scariest night of the year, we wanted to offer up a little insight into how you can avoid any kind of scare when it comes to planning for an HVAC upgrade. We’ve compiled a few of the top things that are forgotten about when it comes to planning for a future HVAC upgrade.
Keep reading if you dare…
Start Planning BEFORE You Need an Upgrade
It’s not always going to be possible, but consider having your HVAC contractor give you an idea of the status of your current mechanical systems so you can start to know more about how certain systems may or may not have much operational life left.
The aim would be to gather information that can tell you more about the working condition—and from there, you can prioritize and (hopefully) start to set aside funds for a replacement or upgrade, based on that kind of projected timeline or schedule, if you aren’t already planning for it.
Don’t forget to include maintenance costs of the upgraded system into whatever budgeting your doing. It’s a critical component in the longevity and efficiency of your system, and you want to do it on the right schedule, so be sure to plan that into any kind of upgrade or retrofit plans you’re creating (3).
Get Clear On Total Project Cost
Depending on the nature of your project, you want to be sure you are crystal clear on the total upgrade and/or construction cost, but also the details that impact that number. For example, how much interruption will happen for tenants and is that also somehow reflected in potential costs or implications for the project? (1)
Another part of this: are temporary utilities required during phases or even days of the project? If so, are those potential costs also outlined? Imagine if you have portable heating and cooling units on-site for part of the project; who will be paying for those capabilities? (1)
Consider a Contingency In Your Overall Budget
Even though some costs will be unanticipated, and you can never predict that they will happen, there are still ways you can plan out typical costs that aren’t always mentioned in an initial quote.
The idea is to try to “build in” a bit of contingency budget into your plan so that if something happens, it doesn’t make the project completely out of scope.
Ask your HVAC contractor if they have common issues they see in projects like yours. Your job is to do your best to see what some of those potential, un-described or unforeseen expenses may be. If those unforeseen things don’t happen, then that’s in your favor. (1)
Another part of this evaluation: When can the work take place? Is renovation construction limited to only those hours in which the space is unoccupied, or can work take place without interfering with operations? That can lead you down a path to start to see some potential unforeseen costs you may not have thought about.
Remember That Timing Matters for Your HVAC Upgrade
Don’t forget how timing really does matter with your upgrade. First, timing matters in the sense that schedules and budgets need to be realistic and feasible. Consider when changes need to be made, and work back from that date to ensure a successful project timeline (2).
What you want to avoid is a situation that puts unrealistic demands on tenants or building occupants, even if you believe they will be rarely interrupted.
Don’t Forget About Implications for Tenants or Workers
Part of the picture with any kind of system upgrade is the building control upgrades specifically.
You’ll need to make sure that your operators and technicians have the skills to take on monitoring, operating, and maintaining (as much as required) the new systems (imagine: pneumatic control systems to direct digital controls, as one example).
Often times this is a component that can be forgotten about or overlooked until the change is made—and then staff are forced to quickly learn skills they don’t have at that time.
Do what you can as you plan to be sure those that those that need to know are equipped with the right skills to operate new systems (and controls) so that your system will in fact be more efficient than your old system. Nothing would be more painful than to invest in an upgrade, only to have it operate less efficiently due to operator error (3).
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