In any undertaking, two heads are usually better than one. In construction design, this principle is especially relevant - with so many variables and moving pieces, it’s always good to have a second set of eyes to scan the work for errors and opportunities.
A peer review provides you with an unbiased assessment of your design team’s work, by analyzing the project’s code compliance, efficiency, quality, and clarity. Because every project comes with one-of-a-kind challenges, an independent reviewer may use their unique experience to suggest optimal design solutions.
In construction, a peer review is an independent verification of a project’s plans and specifications. Typically, it zeroes in on the following factors:
- conformance with local building codes
- design quality
- design clarity
To be effective, the professional reviewing these design elements should have considerable experience in architecture, construction, and engineering.
In California, buildings have many codes to comply with. Regardless of your building’s size and function, you may need the following permits before construction can legally commence:
In addition to permits, most buildings in the state require planning department approvals before work gets green-lighted. The process can be lengthy, as hearings by various commissions can drag on for months.
The good news is that you have control over the expediency of the permit process. By submitting a compliant design, you can avoid multiple revision cycles and shorten the time it takes to get your paperwork.
A typical permit submittal includes:
- Geotechnical Report
- Site Services and Grading Plan
- Demolition Drawings
- Structural Drawings and Calculations
- Architectural Floor Plans
- Building Elevations
- Mechanical Drawings
- Electrical Drawings
- Plumbing Line Drawings
- Technical Specifications
- Title 24 Compliance Forms
- Title 24 Disabilities Access Compliance
A peer review of your permit submittal can expose compliance issues in these supporting documents and recommend corrections. The ability to rectify the code-related errors before the design lands on a building official’s desk can cut processing times and get your project moving faster.
Constructability is a relatively new tool in project management, and it typically gets deployed during the design phase. It mobilizes the project team’s construction knowledge and experience to enhance the ease and efficiency of construction while curtailing the project’s environmental impact.
In simple terms, constructability aims to deliver your project faster, cheaper, and greener.
A peer review boosts your project team’s knowledge pool by giving it access to the reviewer’s expertise and unique industry experience.
Being an outsider to the design process, the reviewer may also notice opportunities that your design team was too close to see.
Design quality is subjective. Some clients may be content with a building that stands upright and keeps the weather out while prioritizing short construction times and cost-efficiency. To others, design quality might go beyond the basics and encompass functionality, energy efficiency, and community impact.
It’s up to you to set quality expectations and make sure that architects and engineers design your building to reflect them. A peer review can help you meet your quality standards by scrutinizing the efforts of your design team. The reviewing professional can assess the design based on your criteria, which may include:
- structural integrity
- envelope integrity
- structural, architectural, and MEP integration
- building’s functional program
- energy efficiency objectives
While exposing potential defects is an obvious function of peer review, a reviewing consultant’s unique experience can also identify opportunities to enhance design quality.
Design clarity is the ease with which the general contractor can correctly infer your vision from drawings and specifications.
Lack of clarity can come from simple omissions, or inconsistencies between architectural, structural, civil, and MEP plans. The design process is akin to a jigsaw puzzle where each discipline must fit their piece in seamlessly with the rest, and despite your design team’s best efforts, sometimes they don’t. This inadvertent lack of clarity can lead to unnecessary RFIs, interpretation errors, and change orders.
A third-party peer review is an excellent opportunity to “test” the clarity of the design before a contractor has to build from it. Being detached from the original design process, an independent consultant can see the “big picture“ better than those who were directly involved. It’s also much easier to address clarity issues in an informal setting rather than letting them emerge as RFIs or change orders after construction begins.
How We Can Help
If you are planning a construction project, a peer review can be an invaluable tool. A third-party assessment of your design can reduce permit processing times, make construction more efficient, improve design quality, and help you avoid RFIs and change orders.
Our team at Design Everest has over 14 years of experience in design and engineering, and each of our engineers brings unique industry experience to the peer review process. By performing an unbiased verification of your design team’s efforts, we can pinpoint code violations, highlight cost-saving opportunities, help align your building’s design with your vision, and improve the clarity of the project documents.
Contact us now and we will provide you a FREE Consultation with a quote. We also provide virtual on-sites and virtual consultations.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.
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