The team of experienced building scientists, engineers, technicians and technologists at Terrapex provides our clients with value-added solutions and competitive services to extend the life cycle of their property assets, optimize energy consumption, and provide due diligence for financing and capital asset planning
Our Building Science services can be completed individually or integrated with any of our environmental, geotechnical, materials testing and hydrogeological services to provide cost-effective solutions.
The following Building Science services are currently offered by Terrapex:
Building / Property Condition Assessments (BCA / PCA)
Building Condition Assessments are carried out for a number of reasons mainly for financial due diligence, identifying future / reserve funding requirements, and evaluation of the condition of a building / part of a building in need of repair or renovation or retrofit.
Prior to leasing/acquiring a property, applying for financing, or managing an existing property, it is good business practice to ascertain the condition of the building(s) and the property as part of the due diligence process.
A Building Condition Assessment (BCA), also known as a Property Condition Assessment (PCA), allows a potential purchaser or property owner/manager to identify current and potential future property deficiencies as well as understand what additional capital costs could be incurred to maintain the property. It allows purchasers to negotiate provisions for ongoing capital costs into the purchase agreement and also provides assurance to lenders that future repair/upgrade costs are included in project finances. BCAs are also included in the financial audits conducted when completing reserve fund studies for condominium corporations or managing assets within equity or commercial real estate funds.
Terrapex completes BCAs in general accordance with the ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), Standard E2018. The assessment includes a visual site inspection and data analyses to evaluate the condition of building systems and major components, which include the building envelope (windows and walls), structure (foundation and framing), mechanical (heating, ventilation, air condition), plumbing, electrical, and roofing. Interior areas (stairways and halls, etc.) and exterior areas (concrete walkways and asphalt parking) are also visually inspected.
The findings of the site inspection are used to ascertain the condition of the facility and develop a life cycle analysis of the various building systems and components. The BCA report is the compilation of the findings, along with reference pictures of the property, and provides opinions of probable costs for suggested remedies of physical deficiencies identified.
Terrapex is well-staffed and equipped to expand the BCA to include evaluation of Indoor Air Quality and any mold or health hazards depending on the condition of the property.
When required, the BCA can be conducted as part of a larger investigation prior to completion of a negotiated property transaction, lease agreement or refinancing. Our team of professional engineers and scientists can conduct a BCA in concurrence with a Phase I ESA, Designated Substances Survey and/or Geotechnical Investigation in a cost-efficient manner and satisfy your due diligence requirements.
Terrapex’s team of experts provide the property information clients require to make technically and financially sound business decisions before completing property transactions and for managing property assets.
Pre-construction Condition Surveys
Pre-construction Condition Surveys are required to record existing condition of the properties adjacent to a site prior to the start of construction activities or excavation works.
The survey is conducted visually and digital photographs are taken via camera. Sometimes, the survey is video-taped especially when the adjacent properties are large and of significance or historical value. Adjacent properties would include in addition to buildings, the sidewalks, curbs, roads and boulevards.
This visual survey will be compiled in a report and would include a record of existing cracks and construction anomalies through narrative descriptions with digital photography and locations of identified items along with recommendations for monitoring activities during construction. Monitoring during construction is normally recommended as a monthly review and especially during the installation of caissons, tiebacks, and foundation construction.
Pre-construction condition surveys (PCCSs) are conducted to help mitigate risks related to any possible future claims.
Technical / Performance Audits
Technical Audits, also known as Performance Audits, are carried out by Property/Building Managers, Property/Building Owners, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Condominium Corporations to support their Best Management Practices. The information is used to support ongoing operation and maintenance of facilities in a cost effective manner.
Technical audits of buildings may be categorised based on the audit scope:
- Building Valuation. In order to confirm the established value of a building or group of buildings, a comprehensive technical audit is completed that includes a review of the building envelope condition, the structural condition of the building, the condition of the parking garage (or other underground structures), chemical and other material storage/handling practices, the condition of the mechanical and electrical equipment, the presence of designated substances and other harmful substances and indoor air quality.
- Confirmation of Construction Specifications. A Technical Audit of a new building determines compliance with the intended design and building code requirements. The “As-constructed” condition of the building or property is visually surveyed, and compared to construction specifications. Deficiencies, if identified are further investigated to identify the potential impacts on the intended function of the new building, ascertain if repairs are required and provide preliminary estimates to complete. Upon completion, these audits also serve as a baseline for any future audits and helps assess the future performance.
- Review of Repair Requirements. Partial technical audit of specific building components that typically require more frequent repair are completed on an as needed basis to identify the type and extent of the repair work required, recommend repair strategy, and prepare technical specifications and contractor bid documents for the repair work. Components of the building that are normally subjected to partial audits include balconies, cladding, parking garage, roof, caulking of windows and façade.
- Fire safety system evaluations. Following their installation, Fire Safety Systems are audited/inspected to verify compliance with the respective Fire and Building Codes. The results are used to identify a deficiencies in the fire alarm system, fire protection system, emergency lighting, and smoke detection system, recommend necessary upgrades and associated costs to implement them.
- Green Building/Energy Audits. The energy consumption audit is carried-out to review: the condition of both the building envelope (walls, window roof); the condition of mechanical and electrical equipment (heating/cooling systems, power supplies etc.); ongoing energy consumption and building operational practices. The resulting data is used to analyse energy consumption costs and recommend potential costs savings.
Non-destructive and/or destructive testing may be undertaken as deemed necessary.
Technical audits of newly constructed condominiums are also carried-out to identify deficiencies of construction under the Ontario New Home Warranty / Tarion B19R program.
Terrapex’s team of building scientists, engineers, technicians and technologists provide integrated technical audits and effective sustainable strategies.
Reserve Fund Studies
Prudent management of a building or property asset, necessitates reasonably accurate prediction of future major maintenance and replacement costs to ensure that sufficient funds are available to cover significant costs when needed most.
A typical Reserve Fund Study (RFS) includes a 30 year itemized expenditure schedule listing all the building components (common elements) together with their estimated remaining life expectancy and replacement costs. A cash flow table is normally provided that gives a projection of the amount in reserve each year taking into account the annual contribution and the assumed interest and inflation rates.
A building condition assessment and condition evaluation of the common area components (corridors & hallways, parking garages, site features, mechanical equipment, electrical equipment, plumbing systems, elevators, structural elements and balconies, exterior walls and windows, roofs, security and life safety systems), in combination with the itemized expenditure schedule and the cash flow table constitute a RFS that provides future / reserve funding requirements to a potential purchaser or property owner/manager. The assessment of the amount of money required from time to time for major repairs and total replacement of various building components is identified in the RFS. The RFS illustrates what additional capital costs could be incurred to maintain the property.
The Condominium Act requires each condominium corporation to update RFSs at least every three years after the initial RFS. The initial RFS, identified as a Class 1 RFS, is a comprehensive study that includes a site visit and condition assessment. The first update of the RFS is produced without a site visit (a Class 2 RFS). The following update should include inspection of major components to determine whether the degree / rate of aging of components is as predicted and accordingly revise estimated life expectancies if needed.
Terrapex completes RFSs in accordance with best practices for life cycle costing and tangible asset management techniques. Each RFS provides a practical approach based on our clients’ requirements and can be adapted to accommodate any changes or adjustments to the initial estimates when conditions change.
Building Envelope Inspections & Testing
The condition of the walls, windows, roof, and common area floors of an existing building is assessed. Normally a visual, non-intrusive inspections will be sufficient to identify deficiencies and deferred maintenance requirements. When required to also identify hidden deficiencies, Terrapex has the expertise to conduct additional investigative tests, including Infrared Thermography, Roof Leak Detection survey, Air Leakage test, Water Leak test, and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) tests.
It is recommended that a thorough initial survey of the building envelope is conducted by a building science specialist for every building or property in order to establish a baseline condition. Subsequently, depending on the condition of the envelope, a yearly / periodic inspection is conducted to anticipate or assess preventive maintenance or repair requirements.
Building envelope inspection will also help to identify:
- requirements for optimizing the energy use;
- insulation level and thermal bridging;
- hazards related to IAQ that affect the comfort and health of habitants;
- accident hazards due to envelope deterioration; and,
- through pro-active maintenance avoid hefty envelope replacement costs.
A typical inspection report contains elaborate description of any deficiencies identified along with respective photographs, and recommended actions with available options to address the concerns.
Inspection and testing of any part or component of the building envelope, replacement or new installation of a roof assembly, exterior insulation and finishing system (EIFS), window or curtain wall, panelised metal cladding, precast concrete cladding or wall, face-sealed or vented joint seals, masonry cladding or wall assembly, and assessment of any proprietary floor or wall systems may also be conducted as a third-party inspection protocol or certification requirement.
Repair / Rehabilitation / Retrofit – Investigation & Remediation Strategy
Repair / Restoration / Retrofit – Consultancy & Project Management
Acting as a Consultant, our expert team of engineers and technologists provides effective yet economic strategies and methodologies for the repair, restoration, or retrofit of a deficient part of our clients’ buildings.
Typically, a condition survey is first conducted to identify the deficiencies and functional problems, and often further investigations including non-destructive or destructive testing is required to ascertain the root cause(s) of the defect or deterioration.
Our strategies and recommendations to address the repair, restoration or retrofit requirements are practical and effective. We supplement our solutions by providing optional creative improvements as a value-addition to increase the life cycle of the building asset.
As Project Manager, or as Owner’s Representative, Terrapex provides value-engineered solutions and specifications for the implementation of the recommended strategy, be it for repair, restoration, or retrofit. Our services may include:
- Contract administration;
- Bid evaluation;
- Recommendations for contract award;
- Budget and cost control;
- Inspection and quality control of site works and installations;
- Mock-up review;
- Schedule and stakeholder coordination; and,
- Close-out of the project.
Our Consultancy and Project Management for restoration works includes balconies, parking garages, walls (masonry, EIFS, glass / windows, concrete, metal), caulking of façade elements (cladding & windows), pavements, roofing and waterproofing.
Design Review and Microclimate Analysis of Building Envelope Assemblies
Design drawings / shop drawings / details are normally reviewed by a building science consultant in order to check compliance with the principles and best practices of building science. Arrangement of the building envelope assemblies, interfaces, continuity of air and vapour barriers, insulation, and other components and parameters are verified, and constructability issues are identified.
Design documents are reviewed as part of Tarion (Ontario New Home Warranty Program) related to quality assurance inspections of newly-constructed condominiums.
We cooperate with your project architect and design team at the design stage and contribute towards the durability and value-engineered solutions of the project.
We perform micro-climate analysis, also known as HAM (Heat Air Moisture) analysis of building envelope assemblies in order to control occurrence of condensation within the assembly, prevent mould growth, and to optimize the U value (thermal conductivity) or R value (thermal resistance) of the assembly.
Any uncommon assembly, be it wall, roof, or floor system requires HAM analysis as part of its performance evaluation criteria. Similarly, any newly developed prototype or proprietary system of a building assembly will require HAM analysis. Such an evaluation is normally provided to builders, manufacturers, architects, and designers.
Tarion's New Home Warranty Field Review Consultancy (FRC)
Inspections during construction of new high-rise condominiums, also known as Builder Bulletin 19 R, as well as new mid-rise condominiums; Bulletin 38 R, are carried out as part of the construction quality assurance requirements of the Condominium Act administered by Tarion Corporation.
Construction of condominiums is inspected by building science firms that are certified by Tarion Corporation as Field Review Consultant (FRC).
As part of our FRC inspection services, we also provide review of the design documents and in particular the drawings and details; we coordinate with the architect and other consultants involved in the design, advise upon any requirements of building science as deemed necessary, and / or detail clarifications for constructability.
Our team of inspectors and supervisors (engineers, technologists, technicians) will carry-out regular ongoing inspections during the whole duration of construction; the risk areas that pose hazards on durability, quality, and functionality of the building will be inspected. Such risk areas include the below grade / foundations, structure, exterior closure / building envelope & roof, fire safety systems, interior finishes, conveying systems / elevators, mechanical & plumbing, electrical, and site works. Level of inspection for each risk area is determined by the FRC based on the size of the building and particulars of the project.
Inspection results are communicated with the builder’s construction site agent, and regular reports including 60 days reports, milestone reports, and a final report along with list of outstanding deficiencies are submitted to Tarion.
Terrapex operates a certified, fully-equipped building materials and testing lab. Apart from testing of materials (concrete, soil, asphalt), the team performs full range of environmental and specialised on-site testing.
On-site air and water leakage tests are conducted on representative samples from exterior windows and doors. Balcony railing test is carried out on a representative sample.
Apart from acting as a third-party inspector during construction, Terrapex also conducts Performance Audits. The Performance Audit is conducted to identify and report on any pending deficiencies or construction anomalies. As required by the Condominium Act, the Performance Audit should be conducted within one year from the date of condominium registration.
Project Management / Contract Administration of restoration works
Terrapex Environmental Ltd (Terrapex) is pleased to assist condominium corporations, property managers, and rental property owners / managers in providing the following investigation and project management or contract administration services to address repair, retrofit, or restoration requirements of their properties and building assets. The scope of our involvement normally consists of:
- Performing Condition Survey Inspection & Testing;
- Preparing Restorations Specifications;
- Managing the Project or Administering the Contract.
These services can be acquired to address performance concerns or preventive maintenance requirements for any of the following components of the building:
- Balcony deterioration
- Parking Garage repair
- Paving rehabilitation
- Concrete Repair (buildings)
- Roofing and Waterproofing
- Roof anchors & window washing safety anchors
- Façade & Cladding:
- Masonry (brickwork, stone work)
- EIFS (stucco and exterior insulation finish systems)
- Insulated Sandwich Panels & Metal cladding systems
- Window & Curtain Wall
- Precast Concrete
- Joint sealant and caulking
Terrapex provides preventive maintenance programs, carefully designed to anticipate premature failure and save costly investigation and rehabilitation works.