Many of our senior living community clients are planning upgrades to finishes in their common spaces and corridors.  Sometimes the scope of work may include replacement of lighting fixtures or suspended acoustic ceiling tile.  However, it may also be time to evaluate certain MEP items routed above corridor ceilings to determine if renovations/replacement may be due for these items, which can be coordinated with the corridor finish renovations.  Some representative budget costs are provided below.  The costs are provided with the assumption that the owner is working directly with the contractor.  If a general contractor is involved, it could cost another 15% for overhead and profit.  Whenever the scope of work gets into the corridor, these items should be considered to minimize the cost of rework:

  1. The suspended acoustic ceiling system (tile and grid) should be replaced, not set aside and reused.  If the same style tile is used, you can save the best tiles for attic stock.  You can budget a cost of $3.50 per square foot of corridor ceiling for new tile and grid.  Allow a 10% value for waste.
  2. Lighting replacements should be included if an upgrade is due.  Have your architect perform a lighting level test to determine the proper level of lighting.  A straight swap of fixtures may cost $175.00 per light fixture.
  3. Corridor floor and wall finish replacement should be considered, but usually this is the one item that the architect has actually included.  If you have vinyl wall covering, this is your chance to move to a system that is easier to maintain such as paint.  Consider adding crown molding.  This is a good time to replace the carpet and refinish the handrails.  If the air diffusers and return grilles are looking worn and old, replace them as well.
  4. Artwork may need to be updated, since taste and style change with time.  Budget $350.00 per picture.
  5. The automatic sprinkler system will need modifications or replacement if it is obsolete.  Contact your sprinkler system vendor to see if your sprinkler heads need replacement, and have the system tested.  Corrosion has been found to be a serious problem that is on the rise.  Twenty-year-old systems that recorded 0.5 mils of corrosion per year a few years ago are recording over 5 mils per year now.  Thin wall pipe will generally provide 10 to 20 years of protection, with instances of failure around 5 years for smaller size pipe.  Make sure the system is properly sanitized.  Fire Protection Engineering Magazine estimates a cost of $6.25 to $14.00 per square foot to replace a complete automatic sprinkler system with cutting, patching, and painting included.  At the high end of the range, fire alarm system upgrades were required.
  6. If the building’s hydronic piping system is routed above the corridor ceiling and the system is starting to experience leaks at elbows, it may be time to consider replacing the hydronic system.  We have encountered heat pump loop piping that is made of PVC in some locations.  In the span of 10 years, some of the pipe has deformed because of elevated temperatures due to failure of the cooling system.  Steel pipe is a superior material for heat pump loop piping.  Space in the corridor ceiling is sometimes between barely adequate and insufficient.  If space is insufficient, consider a single-pipe system replacement for a two-pipe system.  Taco has a proprietary one-pipe distribution system called Loadmatch.  There could be a 10% cost savings, and it requires less space than a conventional two-pipe system.  There is usually a single 4″ pipe running down the corridor ceiling with run-outs to the apartments.  We have seen this system used on one of our projects in Maryland.  Visit the website http://www.taco-hvac.com/ for more information.  The cost of replacing a two-pipe hydronic system currently costs about $8.00 per total building square foot area, while a four-pipe system costs about $15.00 per square foot.  We have seen that a three-pipe domestic water system can be replaced for a cost of $7.00 per total building square foot area.  Careful planning is required.  Talk to your engineer and contractor about the most cost-effective means of retrofit.
  7. If work needs to be done in multiple buildings or on multiple campuses, and the timing looks as though they are fairly close, consider rolling the work up into a single project for a pricing advantage.

zumBrunnen, Inc.

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