Communication is a critical but often overlooked component of commissioning, a quality control process that ensures a project’s construction is meeting the owner’s project requirements.
I always take three steps to communicate with mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contractors to help ensure my tenant interior (TI) projects run smoothly.
- “Here is the equipment we are testing. Where would you (the contractor) like to start?” Communicating how many testing hours will be spent on each piece of equipment from the start makes the commissioning process smoother. Construction schedules can be tight, and it’s important to approach scheduling as a team effort.I recently worked on a nine-floor TI commissioning project and quickly learned that the best way to create a commissioning schedule is to provide the framework, and then let the general contractor and subcontractors take the lead. In my opinion, the best way to show respect is to recognize the pressure on contractors as a project nears substantial completion.
- “I’m your (the contractor’s) voice for any significant challenges or questions left unanswered.” Although we strive for perfection, no one is perfect. Not even engineers. At times, the design poses challenges to the contractors that may lead to confusion. Commissioning agents have an opportunity to help bridge that gap by fostering communication between the design team and contractors to resolve challenging circumstances.On a past TI commissioning project with 11 IDF rooms, the exhaust fans were installed to run continuously. Yet, the design specified thermostatically controlled IDF room exhaust fans. By bringing this item to the attention of the mechanical and controls subcontractors early on, they were able to consult the mechanical engineer in time to save significant money and time in the long term.
- “I’m going to take the time to resolve issues in the field. This way, you (the contractor) have an opportunity resolve open commissioning issues before they are brought to the owner’s attention.” Being transparent with the contractors when issues are found builds trust and reduces the risk of the contractor going out of their way to hide something that needs to be addressed. It’s important that the commissioning agent reiterates to the project team that they are working on this together to meet the owner’s project requirements.By being a transparent commissioning agent, I’ve made some friends along the way. Working with people that want to work as a team to deliver the highest quality services and products is exceptionally rewarding.
When we set the stage with respect and open communication, we make room to exceed the industry standards.