What should you know about a housing company pipeline renovation?
A pipeline renovation, or the replacement of a building’s water pipelines and sewers, is the most expensive and longest renovation project during the life cycle of an apartment building. For shareholders, the renovation usually means finding temporary accommodation and rearranging their lives around a new home. The situation may seem daunting for the shareholders, but the renovation is worth it. If the renovation is realised well, the value of the home will increase and the pipelines of the building will be in good condition. Here is a pipeline renovation explained, stage by stage.
Determining the correct time for a pipeline renovation
Over time, the pipelines inside an apartment building become worn and brittle, and their performance deteriorates, which causes blockages and an increased risk of leaks. Water pipelines and sewers will reach the end of their service life when they are 40–60 years old.
The actual service life depends on the material and quality of the pipelines, how well the pipelines are maintained and the properties of the local water supply. Damage caused by leaks in water pipelines, blockages in sewers, defects in the quality and taste of drinking water and failed bathroom waterproofing are also reasons for speeding up the start of a pipe renovation.
“Regular maintenance of water pipelines and sewers will also save money. According to studies by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, it is up to 30% more affordable to perform repairs at the right time than too late,” reminds Jari Marttinen, head of the Raksystems Condition Survey Unit.
A need to reduce energy consumption or to change the heating method are also increasingly common reasons for going ahead with a pipeline renovation, as it is advisable to perform further necessary major renovations simultaneously with the pipeline renovation instead of just repairing the water pipelines and sewers. The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA) supports housing companies in their energy renovation projects: ARA has budgeted almost €100 million for energy subsidies for 2020–2022.
Starting the project with the help of a project manager
In most cases, the representatives of the housing company or the property manager do not have the extensive knowledge that is required to carry out a pipeline renovation project. That is why the project should be carried out with the help of a person who is familiar with the project procedure from start to finish. The project manager will coordinate and arrange for the necessary feasibility studies, manage the planning, chair meetings and ensure that the schedule and costs are kept under control.
In a traditional pipeline renovation, surfaces and waterproofing in bathrooms are renovated in addition to the water pipelines and sewers. Alternative renovation methods, such as cured-in-place piping, can reduce the construction engineering workload and avoid the need to renovate the surfaces in bathrooms.
A pipeline condition survey and a humidity survey for sanitary premises will ensure that the repair methods are correct for the renovation needs. The importance of comprehensive feasibility studies cannot be overemphasised. When the groundwork is done properly, there will be less costs from modifications and additional work.
Well-designed is half done
When the project manager has been named, a project plan or project proposal is prepared. The costs from project planning form a small part of the pipeline renovation project budget, but planning is extremely important. The scope of the pipeline renovation is determined at the project planning stage. The project plan includes all the available options for the schedule and implementation method of the pipeline renovation. The housing company chooses the best option together with the project manager and the design engineers.
Once the project plan has been approved, a competitive bidding to find the contractor must be arranged. At the implementation planning stage, designers ranging from architects to HVAC and automation design engineers prepare drawings and work specifications for the competitive bidding, the building permit and the renovation itself.
Raksystems has more than 20 years of experience from planning pipeline renovations. We provide services from all engineering sectors and we have people specialising in buildings of different ages.
Properly completing the contract stage
When the project and implementation planning is done, a competitive bidding to choose the contract takes place. Normally, two to four contractors are selected for the tender negotiations, and the best option is chosen for the housing company based on price, schedule and skills.
At this stage, a project supervisor needs to be selected to ensure that the work will be carried out according to plan. The supervisor will regularly visit the construction site, document the site visits and participate in monthly site meetings. Good documentation will be useful for warranty repairs, etc.
When the contractor and supervisor have been selected, the contract can be started. The contract stage will last about 8 to 14 weeks per apartment if the traditional implementation method is used.
The contractor’s warranty period for a pipeline renovation is usually two years. The shareholders must remember to inspect their apartments and report any faults or defects before the end of the warranty period, and also in connection with the handover and acceptance inspections after completion of the work.
Good communication from the beginning to the end
It is clear that the progress of the project and adherence to the schedule are of interest to the representatives of the housing company; after all, their homes are being renovated and a large part of their assets are tied to the home. Well-selected professionals ensure smooth communication throughout the renovation project. The project manager will ensure that information passes to the housing company during each stage of the project and the contractor provides information about the project in due time. The more information about the project is communicated by the contractor, the project manager or another party, the less time it will take for the housing company to handle communication.
The shareholders must familiarise themselves with the project documentation and attend information events and annual general meetings on the project to ensure that they are aware of all the details of the renovation and will be able to influence the decisions.
“Raksystems is an excellent partner for pipeline renovation projects, as we can offer a specialist service package including everything from an experienced project manager to condition surveys, as well as designing engineers and supervision during the project period,” says Pasi Kupiainen, head of the Repair Planning Unit.
A pipeline renovation in a nutshell
- Approximately 6–18 months as a whole
Contract stage approximately 8–14 weeks per apartment
- €500–1,500 per square metre
Duties of the housing company
Members of the Board:
- Finding a good project manager, good design engineers and a good contractor
- Making decisions at the planning and contract stages
- Attending site meetings at the construction site stage
- Studying the project plan
- Making decisions at the annual general meeting
- Finding temporary accommodation for the duration of the renovation
- Protecting their movable goods
- Agreeing on any modifications to their apartments and inspecting the apartments at the time of handover