Using Value Engineering for Flooring Selection
As the popularity of commercial renovations and retrofits flourishes, so does the need to find practical, cost-effective ways to restore buildings back to, or better than, their original grandeur. Unlike new construction, renovations require additional planning to determine the most efficient and cost-effective ways to design, source and build.
Flooring selection presents a significant challenge, since it comprises one of the largest outlays of any construction project. The process of value engineering allows construction teams to select products that offer the greatest return on investment with the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). Analyzing current assets within a building allows specifiers to select materials that best complement existing, usable infrastructure. Outlined below are a few things to consider when using value engineering for flooring specification.
Consider the Building’s Purpose
First, it’s important to take a holistic view of the building to determine the day-to-day activities of the space. Typically, there will be a variety of uses for a building but pinpointing the overall objective of the space will help narrow flooring section. For example, healthcare facilities have strict standards for using aseptic and hypo-allergenic flooring material, while educational spaces often require flooring that enhances concentration by lowering acoustics. Understanding these non-negotiables up front will help avoid setbacks during construction.
The building’s traffic flow is also a key consideration. Both the amount and type of traffic should be factored into the equation. High-traffic areas and the weight of heavy loads can quickly and significantly impact the condition of a floor. The activities of the building’s occupants should be considered as well. Workers who are on their feet for significant periods of time each day, such as teachers and nurses, will require flooring with higher ergonomic properties.
Have a Clear Vision of the Product Timeline
Proper planning keeps a project moving. Before beginning any construction project, be sure to create a comprehensive timeline that can be shared and discussed with all stakeholders. This will also give subcontractors (flooring, plumbing, electric, etc.) specific direction regarding their work schedules and anticipated milestones.
The timeline should also detail when subcontractors’ equipment and materials should be procured, staged and installed. Subcontractors can then take ownership of material selection, product staging and logistics management, freeing up supervisors to focus on other tasks during construction.
Start with a Good Foundation
Equally important to flooring selection is installation. Even the highest-quality flooring can be quickly compromised without proper installation. Regardless of the flooring type, using a certified installer not only results in proper installation, it may also ensure the floor’s warranty is not voided due to failure to comply with the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.
The building’s current infrastructure should also be closely analyzed to determine which flooring is best suited for installation. The condition of the subfloor as well as moisture and humidity levels can impact installation time and cost. If the subfloor needs to be removed prior to installation, count on additional labor expenses.
Look for Long-Term Value
Budget constraints make it tempting to cut corners in order to cut costs. Selecting a floor that can withstand everyday wear and tear will add to its longevity and reduce the number of repairs needed over the floor’s lifespan.
Maintenance plays a vital role in a floor’s TCO. It’s estimated that maintenance can account for up to 80 percent of the overall lifetime cost of a floor. Maintenance expenses include labor, supplies and equipment needed for upkeep. Flooring such as premium rubber, which requires little more than mopping with water, can greatly reduce TCO by lowering maintenance costs.
Keeping it Green Matters
The act of renovating a building is an exercise in sustainability. Keep those eco-friendly practices going by choosing building products that embrace sustainable practices. Flooring made from recycled, renewable or naturally sustainable products means less impact on the environment.
Additionally, rubber flooring products are free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plasticizers (phthalate) or halogens (e.g. chlorine) and help contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Floors that are GREENGUARD Gold for low VOC emissions are widely recognized by sustainable building programs and building codes around the world.
Embracing Form and Function
Flooring can have a significant impact on the look and feel of a space. It should be stylish, yet practical. By balancing aesthetics with purpose, flooring can satisfy performance requirements while providing exceptional eye appeal. Wayfinding techniques embrace this practice by offering attractive lines and patterns to help guide occupants to their correct destination within a building.
Evidence-based design (EBD) can also play a key role in flooring selection. This process, based on credible, scientific research, allows specifiers to choose a flooring solution with their desired attributes. Flooring that increases noise absorption, minimizes slips and falls, improves indoor air quality (IAQ) as well as many other benefits can be considered using EBD.
The Risks of Cutting Corners
Selecting a product purely on price without understanding the needs of the building and its occupants can cause the flooring to fail long before its projected lifespan. Practices such as life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) looks well beyond initial cost to determine a product’s TCO. Factors such as installation, maintenance, labor, disposal and countless other considerations are collected and aggregated to determine a product’s long-term viability.
Additionally, cheaper flooring products can impact IAQ in several ways. The chemicals or subfloor materials used during installation, composition of the flooring material as well as the chemicals needed to clean the floor can contribute to poor air quality, potentially affecting the health of occupants.
The Value of Value Engineering
Value engineering can be a challenge to execute. It requires a great deal of upfront knowledge and planning to determine which products will perform the best over the course of their lifespan and in cadence with the rest of the building’s infrastructure. However, the rewards of this process far outweigh the time and effort it takes to implement.
Value engineering can significantly influence flooring selection, since it impacts nearly every square inch of a building’s linear space. The knowledge derived from this exercise will help construction teams specify flooring products that provide the best quality and overall value, while ensuring the beauty and integrity of the renovation project is maintained.
Tasha Hughes is a Marketing and PR Specialist at nora systems, Inc.