Get the Real Numbers
It is common for property stakeholders to rely on a reserve fund study to budget for parking garage work. A reserve fund study can provide a ballpark figure and is helpful for long-term planning. However, a more comprehensive condition survey will provide stakeholders with the level of detail required, including a clear idea of what work is needed and will reveal the true anticipated cost.
A comprehensive survey provides the granular detail required to produce accurate tender drawings/specifications and repair quantities that are tailored toward addressing the current condition of the parking garage. When it comes time to tender the work, property stakeholders will know exactly what they are looking for.
Plan for Overages
Any successful plan must incorporate a contingency for the unpredictable, and the same rings true for any major garage repair program. That is why it is best practice to add extra room within a project budget to accommodate any surprises uncovered during construction. A good recommendation is to carry a 10% contingency allowance for this type of work in order to handle any unforeseen conditions that may arise.
Time Your Tendering
There are good times and costly times to tender a parking rehabilitation project. Around mid-summer, for example, most contractors will already have their year planned out and will be busy with current projects. As such, it is likely their quotes will not be favorable.
During the winter months, on the other hand, is when contractors are typically planning for the year ahead. This can make a weatherproof project like an underground garage restoration more appealing, leading to bids that are more competitive.
Ultimately, whenever possible, it is advantageous to tender late in the calendar year or early the following year when contractors are trying to secure work for the upcoming construction season. Tendering in January and doing the work in August is better than tendering in July and then trying to start the work late in the summer.
Have a Phasing Plan
In order to minimize disruption to owners, it is paramount to consider the full impact of the restoration and phase the work accordingly. Vehicles will likely need to be shifted around and offsite parking arranged, so having a phasing plan in place from the beginning is important.
It is also important to remember that work on one floor of the parking structure can affect the floor level below. If you have a multi-level underground parking garage and you want to do concrete repairs and replace waterproofing system on P1, for instance, you have to close the P2 level directly below because you are going to be potentially chipping deteriorated concrete and removing protection for the cars below.
Phasing plans within the tender documents must clearly identify the requirements and extent of work within each phase.
No matter how old your parking structure is, it is good practice to routinely assess its condition.
Managers and Owners need to keep up on maintenance and inspections, and that includes having the parking garage assessed by a structural engineer on a regular basis. If recommended maintenance work is ignored or put on the ‘back-burner’, there is a risk of opening up your tenants and residents to safety concerns.
Parking garage restoration projects are rarely cheap endeavors. However, with solid planning, accurate budgeting, and ongoing oversight provided by an experienced professional engineer, managers and owners will be setting the foundation for a smart investment.
Tim Van Zwol, P.Eng.
Regional Manager/Associate (Building Science & Restoration)