At F&D International, our professionals enjoy sharing knowledge. Below are some of our recent articles and industry tip sheets. Our goal is to assist you to make informed decisions for your capital construction projects.
F&D International provided the architectural design and engineering consulting for this home in Boulder County. The homeowners wanted to update the home with an emphasis on Craftsman inspired accents throughout, and this major remodel included updating the home with a new roof, insulation, energy efficient windows and doors throughout, replacing the siding and painting the exterior of the home to give it a fresh new look. Additional updates include a terraced landscape with native stone walls and new plants. Interior updates included adding a bathroom, updating two bathrooms, new paint, updates to laundry room, new floor coverings, all interior doors and window coverings. Photos show the before and after, what a change!
Historic Courthouse Renovation
We are pleased to announce that F&D International has been awarded a contract for the renovation of the historic Montrose County Courthouse. The F&D team has just started on the structural assessment, architecture and engineering design for the renovations and upgrades of the building.
We are honored to be working with the county on the courthouse which was built in 1922. Designed by the architect William Bowman, it was place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. This building is a vital piece of Montrose history and we are very pleased to have been chosen to assist the county and the citizens of Montrose county in their effort to preserve this beautiful building.
To read the full article about the courthouse and its history click here:
ADA Compliance Inspections
Do all of your buildings comply with ADA requirements? You may think that people with disabilities can navigate your facility with ease, but total compliance with the Americans with Disability Act is surprisingly rare. You need to understand how to assess, categorize and prioritize your facilities, allowing you to formulate a timely, scalable ADA Transition Plan that YOU have control over. F&D International recommends that every business, corporation and public entity begin with an accessibility survey report. The accessibility survey report draws attention to deficiencies or items that are not within compliant regulations. Items or elements that do not meet minimum specifications for requirements of compliance are recorded, and noted into a report. This is often referred to as a barrier removal or transition plan.
How long does the inspection process take?
The size and type of facility, along with the number of elements contained, determines the inspection time. Most inspections can be performed in a few hours, however large facility or site inspections of multiple buildings can take longer.
Detailed report of non-compliant findings
The end results of our inspection is a detailed report of the findings of non-compliance and a proposed action required to meet compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or state regulations, or related access standards.
Compliance is financial protection
Just like driving a car without insurance, it only takes getting caught once to realize it is much less expensive to comply on your own now than to pay fines and penalties on top of making the necessary changes. Give your business the ability to plan for changes and associated costs to keep necessary expenditures under control.
You maintain control of the compliance process
Once you’ve completed a proper evaluation and have a sensible and defendable ADA modification plan on file, you have given yourself control of the compliance process (and control of the costs). But without a legitimate plan, a lawsuit or formal complaint could turn control of compliance (and your budget) to the courts or an enforcing agency. By having adjustments done now, you avoid the possibility of having someone else dictate how and where your budget is spent.
As of the 2010 census, 18% of our population is disabled, and that number is growing. If your business isn’t compliant, you’re missing out on a potential sales growth of 18% – and you’re also holding your breath and hoping that nobody sues you.
There are five main areas that account for some of the most common violations. Scope them out to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for a lawsuit.
1) Entrances and Routes
Can someone using a wheelchair or scooter get into your building? If your entrances are only accessible by stairs, you have a problem on your hands that a makeshift plywood ramp won’t solve.
This applies even if your building was built before the ADA was established. Buildings are required to keep up with evolving ADA standards wherever reasonably possible.
2) Parking Areas
Accessible parking spaces seem uncomplicated, but they frequently trip up building owners who don’t realize that there’s more to parking stalls than just painting the International Symbol of Access on the ground. Access aisles where wheelchair users can enter and exit vehicles are particularly prone to issues. The aisle needs to be connected to an access route that leads directly to the entrance of the building. Curb ramp slope issues are another major problem, they may have been designed correctly but not constructed correctly.
Slope issues can plague the rest of the parking lot also; even if they are the correct dimensions, many exceed the maximum slope of 1:48. This may be because the grading wasn’t done correctly or because the asphalt is not level
Restrooms are tough to get right due to the sheer number of requirements for those spaces. There are many different things you have to get right, what seems like a simple variation of height or distance can be hard to fix. In addition to the cost of fixing it – which is what will happen in some kind of settlement – there will also be financial penalties and the cost of attorney fees and experts. It gets very expensive when you get a complaint, so it’s much better to take a proactive approach and do an ADA survey. Restroom-related violations typically fall into one of these categories:
Toilet stalls: The placement and location of dispensers, grab bars and other toilet accessories – not to mention the toilet itself – frequently causes trouble for building owners. If not placed correctly this may cause the grab bars to be in the wrong place as well.
Sinks: Many sinks are not compliant, and this is a big one. Check the sinks in your restroom and breakroom – they’re required to be a maximum of 34 inches high. The height can be thrown off by simple design choices like the type of fixtures chosen.
Room size: Restrooms need at least 60 inches of uninterrupted space for wheelchair users to maneuver around. A restroom that doesn’t comply with this basic requirement can’t be fixed easily or inexpensively, causing its owner untold headaches if the non-compliance leads to a lawsuit.
4) Accidental Barriers
Some barriers to access result from deferred maintenance rather than being designed into the building. For instance, a perfectly designed accessible parking stall becomes non-compliant when the striping fades too much to be read or when the blue sign at the head of the parking space is vandalized or stolen. Door pressure and speed are both regulated by the ADA so that doors are easy enough to maneuver and don’t open or close too fast, but over time they may need some maintenance to bring them back into compliance, adds Employee training can also play a role, so periodically review all spaces to make sure people aren’t accidentally creating barriers.
In restaurants, one common problem is that the lower section of service counters, which is intended to let someone in a wheelchair wheel up to it and sign a credit card slip, will be non-compliant because of the way staff is using it. People will put a cash register or a stack of menus in that area. That’s just a lack of knowledge and training.
5) Misunderstanding the Law
Building owners frequently confuse ADA mandates with building codes, but code compliance improvements are only required if you’re substantially altering a space or building a new one, but ADA compliance is mandatory even if your building was constructed before the requirements became law.
If you have an older building, you should be budgeting dollars every year to remove barriers so that your facility becomes accessible. The law is approximately 28 years old now – if you had a complaint and an attorney asked what you’ve done over the last 28 years to make your facility more accessible, and your answer is nothing, and that puts you in a weak position. This requirement applies to all spaces open to the public, even for spaces that only occasionally have outside visitors.
People often think the ADA is about building codes, but it’s actually about civil rights, and civil rights apply to everybody. There are only two groups that are exempt, religious organizations and exclusive clubs that own their own buildings. However, if a church or club rents its building out for a wedding or benefit event where non-members will be attending, the ADA applies to them fully, even if it’s a one-time event.
Bringing in an ADA Accessibility consultant like F&D International to conduct a survey of your buildings and grounds will help you get on top of your accessibility problems and help you find things that may make you vulnerable for a lawsuit. This survey could also help if a lawsuit does come up; at least you have already started taking the steps towards compliance. Many items are not expensive to do, like replacing old knob-style door hardware are restriping your parking lot.
Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings
Pre-Engineered metal buildings (PEMB) are very versatile, and over time the industry has become more sophisticated by adding sufficient design capabilities to accommodate more complex buildings. At F&D we are experts at thinking outside of the box, so we can help our customers achieve all of their goals. Our experience with pre-engineered buildings, not only in the design phase, but also in the field, provides us with a strong ability to provide creative and cost-effective solutions for our customers. We approach every project with a Value Engineering mindset. Helping our customers keep overall costs down, without sacrificing quality, service, and most importantly the aesthetics of the building is our main priority.
Benefits of a Pre-Engineered Metal Building
Pre-engineered steel buildings are very cost effective and efficient for many types of public capital construction projects such as maintenance facilities, fire stations, warehouses, airports, and even administration buildings. They offer economical options that accommodate larger interior spaces and high ceilings. That is why many municipal facilities invest in metal building systems for their infrastructure. They provide a high return on investment, and meet the need for both function and form; and the exterior facades can be modified to meet the distinct appearance and design needs of each client’s project.
Energy Efficiency and Performance
Metal buildings can utilize a multitude of high-performance insulation options – from fiberglass to rigid board, which can meet or exceed energy conservation code requirements of both ASHRAE 90.1 and the IECC.
The F&D team provides an organized and efficient streamlined approach throughout all phases of the pre-engineered steel building construction process that result in cost-effective construction solutions.
Mission Critical Facilities
These are the buildings that keep our communities safe and are critical in an emergency. Fire stations, public works buildings, police, and national defense sites are specially categorized and engineered accordingly. Pre-engineered buildings are perfect for this type of use because of the sturdiness, durability and low maintenance requirements.
Versatility is key as every municipality requires these structures in a range of environments, especially in Colorado, but they also want them to fit seamlessly into the community. Twenty years ago these types of buildings used to stick out like a sore thumb. These days, you may drive by one without even realizing it’s a metal building. They can be finished with materials that blend them into the surrounding community and integrate into the character of the neighborhood.
At F&D International, we have worked with most of the major pre-engineered metal building manufacturers in the U.S. and we have years of experience designing and engineering these type of buildings. Our design experts would love to talk to you about your project.
Reasons to Consider Historic Preservation
Old buildings attract people.
Is it the warmth of the materials, the heart pine, marble, or old brick — or the resonance of other people, other activities? Maybe older buildings are just more interesting. The different levels, the vestiges of other uses, the awkward corners, the mixtures of styles, they’re at least something to talk about.
America’s downtown revivals suggest that people like old buildings. Whether the feeling is patriotic, homey, warm, or reassuring, older architecture tends to fit the bill. Regardless of how they actually spend their lives, Americans prefer to picture themselves living around old buildings. Some eyes glaze over when preservationists talk about “historic building stock,” but what they really mean is a community’s inventory of old buildings ready to fulfill new uses.
Old buildings have intrinsic value. Buildings of a certain era, namely pre-World War II, tend to be built with higher-quality materials such as rare hardwoods (especially heart pine) and wood from old-growth forests that no longer exist. Prewar buildings were also built by different standards. A century-old building might be a better long-term bet than its brand-new counterpart.
New businesses prefer old buildings. In 1961, urban activist Jane Jacobs startled city planners with The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which Jacobs discussed economic advantages that certain types of businesses have when located in older buildings. Historic buildings have an intrinsic charm and a story to tell and they make sense for businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, brew pubs and many other types of small businesses. They also provide a sense of civic pride and community awareness as well as making downtown areas more attractive and appealing.
Cultural Benefit. By seeing historic buildings — whether related to something famous or recognizably dramatic — tourists and longtime residents are able to witness the aesthetic and cultural history of an area. Just as banks prefer to build stately, old-fashioned facades, even when located in commercial malls, a city needs old buildings to maintain a sense of permanency and heritage.
Architecture is a direct and substantial representation of history and place. By preserving historic structures, we are able to share the very spaces and environments in which the generations before us lived. Historic preservation is the visual and tangible conservation of cultural identity. Architecture is one aspect of our heritage with which we can interact and adapt. Some buildings have specific historic context and must be meticulously and exactly preserved.
Most buildings, however, can be occupied by a business, lived in, and interacted with. These buildings change with us, thus recording a piece of each generation’s story. We have an obligation to respect this community resource and preserve it for future generations. Preservation works within the established history and location of cities and towns to build on the rich culture already at hand.
The preservation of historic buildings is a one-way street. There is no chance to renovate or to save a historic site once it’s gone. And we can never be certain what will be valued in the future. This reality brings to light the importance of locating and saving buildings of historic significance — because once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever
The F&D International preservation professionals have extensive expertise in the assessment, repair and conservation of a wide range of historic building types and materials. Using sophisticated inspection methods and testing techniques, we apply the science of preservation to develop innovative solutions to restore historically significant properties.
Health Care Facility Condition Assessments
The team at F&D International provides a full range of facility inspection services for health care providers. Our mission is to help our clients make informed capital purchase and improvement decisions. A formal facility assessment is one of the keys to solving infrastructure issues, plan for renovations or purchase or sale. We provide a professional team of architects, engineers and cost estimators with expertise in:
• Assessment of existing buildings for expansions or upgrades
• Analyze building for future capital expenses
• Analyze deferred maintenance issues
• ADA / Code compliance inspections
• Determine whether to renovate or replace aging buildings
Healthcare codes are written to a higher standard and need to consider everything from seismic concerns to fire resistance; for these reasons, a building assessment is an important tool for the health facility professional to manage the process of capital expenditures and budgets for renovations, upgrades or new construction. We will work closely with your management team to identify solutions and create a realistic plan for implementation.
For nearly 20 years F&D International has provided clients with a wide range of architecture and engineering services across the entire Rocky Mountain Region.
Site Selection for Fire Stations
One of the most important issues in fire station construction is the selection of a site. This decision will be the driving factor of nearly all of the subsequent decisions for the project.
Finding an adequate site for your fire station can become a really huge issue, and a few of the key issues to consider are:
• The process of site selection and acquisition can be tedious and difficult. Sometimes the community will already own a site that will work, sometimes a resident will donate land; but usually the land must be purchased.
• Donated land. This is a great idea, but quite often the site does not meet the requirements, zoning or response criteria.
• There is no perfect site, but with good site planning and design team, there will be options to explore.
Obtaining a site that meets your requirements can take a while and is a somewhat complicated process, but take your time and carefully explore all options.
In site evaluations, response times within the station’s geographic area is a critical factor. A careful analysis needs to be conducted that includes all factors such as:
• Site should be located on, or adjacent to a main travel artery that will provide good access, visibility and egress for emergency apparatus, and adequate alerting of the public of the departing fire equipment.
• The site should provide acceptable access to secondary streets to allow fire equipment and personnel to respond.
• Streets should have adequate width and shoulder width so that vehicles can safely pull over when fire equipment is coming up behind them.
• The main travel artery should not be a heavily congested area with an overabundance of traffic signals or stop signs if at all possible.
• Another factor to consider is the proximity of rail road crossings, churches, schools or other factors which could cause safety hazards and delays for emergency equipment.
Additionally, the site should also provide rapid response time to areas in your community that are target “hazard” areas such as factories, assisted living homes, nursing homes and hospitals. You will also need to consider areas of the community that has inadequate water supplies, water pressure or water volume issues which could seriously hamper the ability to extinguish a fire.
Heavily congested downtown areas are another concern because the buildings often share common firewalls, which in most cases have been breached and this can cause significant flame spread from building to building. Additionally, older buildings may lack fire detection systems and fire sprinkler systems which can make the situation even worse.
Traffic Intervention Systems
There are some tools to assist making a high-traffic site more acceptable. These systems use electronic beam to change traffic signals for responding fire apparatus in areas of high-density traffic flows in intersections. Typically the beam coming from responding emergency equipment changes a traffic light for the cross traffic to red and for the through traffic (responding fire apparatus) this changes to green so they can quickly move through the intersection. In addition to this type of system, there are also hardline connections to traffic signal controls that can be used.
A perfect site for your fire station may not be possible, but a “good” site is very possible to find in an established community as well as in a new development; you just have to take the time, and remember that this could be one of the most important decisions you will make for the station.
The Benefits of a Program Manager
For most municipalities, a major construction project does not come along very frequently. Administrators with a large renovation and construction program are faced with a dilemma – use their current staff or bring someone in to manage the program. They typically have limited experience with capital construction projects and as a result, these decision-makers can find themselves facing a very costly enterprise, for which they rarely have the expertise or the time required to handle efficiently – and expensive mistakes may be the result.
The Program Manager
You can compare a program manager to the CEO of a corporation, albeit in this case a very specific corporation. A program management team must possess skill sets that include public relations, financial consulting, planning, design, construction, management and the ability to effectively bring together a diverse group of people in a very short period of time. A construction program is very similar. The program manager is the “eyes and ears” of the owner and the manager of the many complex parts of the construction process. A qualified PM firm will have a staff of highly trained professionals that will have the broad experience necessary to handle anything from ordinary to out of the ordinary that happens – surprises are all too common on a construction project, especially in renovation, and a seasoned and experienced PM firm will help to minimize those all to common surprises. With a qualified PM firm there is a good chance that someone on their staff has experience with almost any problem that could arise and this will ensure that it will be handled quickly and effectively – saving you stress, and money while maintaining the project schedule. For example, on one fire district construction project the land deal fell apart just before closing. We were able to identify another parcel quickly due to our connections and experience working with this type of transaction. There was no lost time due to this incident and the new property was an even better location.
Staffing up in-house with good personnel is an option, but it is unlikely that they will be equipped with the control systems and technology necessary to manage the project successfully. Even the most dedicated staff members may not be able to keep up with the schedule and time needed to provide sufficient management. Then there is the problem of down-sizing after the completion of the project. Usually the out-sourced PM team is no more expensive than an in-house team – and is without the overhead costs and disruption to your internal staff. When the project is over the PM firm goes away. Most important to the client, because a PM firm is an independent third party representing the owner’s interest, the program may be viewed as more objective, credible and will get better buy-on than if the program is managed in-house.
Many municipalities will turn to an architect or a general contractor for guidance, but they usually only offer services that directly address specific issues – they do not have knowledge or oversight of your entire program – thus their solutions can be inefficient or short-sighted and may actually cause more problems. On the other hand, the PM participates in every step of the project and has broad oversight of the budget, schedule, quality of work and the client’s goals.
Well Rounded Expertise
A good PM firm is essential in helping the client make sound financial, economic, design and construction method decisions and should be brought on as early as possible in the process, usually way before design and financing.. One of their most important roles is to guide and advise the client in funding decisions, design options, construction methods, as well as assembling the design and construction teams that will be reflect your culture and goals. An experienced and reputable PM firm will bring systems and procedures perfected through years of experience and refinement. Working without them is like flying in a plane without navigation equipment – it is just not a good idea.
With tight budgets, the need to coordinate the many professional disciplines needed for the success of a project, and with so much at stake, it makes sense that more municipalities are turning to a PM to coordinate their capital construction programs, manage the project and make sure that you are getting what you bargained for.
Experience Across Multiple Industries
Organizations are increasingly realizing that traditional forms of project management cannot accommodate the ever-changing landscape of today’s economic, social and business environment. For this reason, a PM firm that has experience working in numerous industries offers an advantage to the district, due to their exposure to numerous funding methods, economic analysis, design and delivery methods, entitlements, multiple contractors, and building methods. A PM’s staff has had exposure to numerous types of requirements, problems and solutions that are an asset to their client. PM firms have the ability to bring new and fresh ideas and methods from one industrial sector to another. This ability to share knowledge across industry sectors brings value to the client and allows capital projects to be executed in a more efficient manner.
What Services Does a Program Manger Provide?
A program manager will put together a plan that will customize their scope of services to the client’s needs. Like a CEO carrying out the needs of its organization, a PM carries out the needs of the client. These services are varied and diverse; may include early program services such as a comprehensive facility assessment, bond referenda strategy services, definition of concepts and needs, pro-forma and economic modeling, assembly of the project team including architect, contractor and consultants. From here they would provide pre-design services, design phase services, procurement phase services, construction phase services, post-construction phase services, and move-in services. A PM firm will also maintain project files for several years after completion. But their involvement should not stop there – there may be warranty and maintenance issues several years later and a good PM firm will make a commitment to helping their clients with these. For instance, our firm was recently called by a previous client who needed information about design and maintenance issues associated with a very complex boiler system nearly three years after project completion. We had the drawings, specifications and warranty information at-hand and were able to effectively handle the situation for them.
What Does it Cost?
There are no hard rules for this, but the fee should be for services provided – nothing more. There can be many variables in the fee such as whether the client can provide a temporary office, if specialized services will be required, if there is a need for a public relations person, and other specialized components. A good PM firm will typically provide guidance and efficiencies that are valued well above their fees; PM firms bring a wealth of experience and knowledge that can be leveraged by the client. Some examples could be their value engineering and cost estimating experts will likely generate cost savings, or the ability to provide funding strategies, the ability to address bond holder questions and concerns, resolve design and constructability issues and many other cost saving attributes. Their team can quickly mobilize to provide the most sophisticated processes and technology available to effectively control costs, schedules, quality and agreements – each of which will translate into value and savings.
Master Planning and Growth Management for Fire Districts
Nearly every community in the United States has seen an increase in population and most will continue to do so. This rapid pace has been a significant challenge for fire districts, and with an increase in their service populations coupled with an aging population, emergency call volumes are also increasing.
Many times, these demands for services have increased faster than the capabilities of the fire districts providing them and all indications are that community growth will continue to be a critical issue for many years to come. We have the resources to work with you to develop your Growth Management Plan to assist you develop solutions for the long-term needs of your community.
• Define the current level of services being provided
• Analyze your projected workload based upon an assessment of potential growth in your community
• Develop an analysis/forecast of anticipated workloads
The F&D team will provide the leadership for community outreach sessions of service expectations, define the level of service needed, and assist you with the development of performance measures and targets. Based upon projected growth, community expectations and analysis of your current facilities, equipment and staff, we will then provide you with a Facility Master Plan to assist you with the growth management of your district. Our analysis of your options will include cost estimates, and a range of options to achieve your goals.
Our growth management plan will provide you with an evolving, long-term planning document that will establish the framework for future facility related decisions to support your strategic plan and mission for your district. Your growth management/master plan will reflect a clear vision and will be created in an open process involving our team and community input and will set a logical course for your district and community for the next 5, 10 and 20 years into the future.
Our steps include:
• Complete a Facility Assessment Report of each facility
• Review Goals and Objectives for the future use of each facility
• Review Technology Improvements
• Analyze Station Locations
• Analyze Risk Mitigation
• Review your Organization Structure
• Review your Resource Deployment
• Analyze Funding Options
• Look at New Service Opportunities
Your Master Plan Should Include
• Profiles of the current fire protection and emergency services system, including the capabilities and limitations of the system.
• Identifies the nature and extent of the risks faced by the citizens, their property and the environment.
• Establishes goals and performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of the fire and emergency services system in future years.
Your Master Plan reflects the fire department’s desire to enduring professionalism. It also takes a critical look at the fire department’s services, the environment it operates in and should continually seek means to improve itself. It is also important to understand that this document looks at the fire department using a snapshot in time. Therefore, while the fire department is going through the planning process, it is continually implementing many of the recommendations in this document – improving its operations and service delivery.