April 2023

2C — April 2023 — Owners, Developers & Managers — M id A tlantic Real Estate Journal


O wners , D evelopers & M anagers By Daniel Axson, P.E.,​ ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC Buyer Beware: Finding a Good Consultant


hether you are an architect, engineer, or contractor, evalu-

changed overnight. A week before beginning the investiga- tion, the region experienced a severe rainstorm. The following morning, I received a call from the property manager, who re- ported an additional 80 leaks. A small problem became a big problem seemingly overnight! Sensing the residents' dis- tress, I advised the client that we dedicate our approved bud- get for testing, foregoing a report until we could get a handle on the conditions. By the end of the week, we found systemic issues with the build- ing envelope, so I advised the

HOA to retain an attorney as the building was approaching the end of the statute of repose, and repairs would be costly. The new attorney retained us to continue our investigation and write a report in advance of litigation. We discovered many issues, but one, in particular, stood out to me – the floor line detail responsible for manag- ing water in the cladding. The as-built conditions considerably departed from the original de- sign, so much so that it couldn't be a coincidence. Reviewing the construction period documen- tation and communications

revealed that the contractor retained a 3rd-party consultant who proposed an alternate to the originally designed detail, and the Architect of record ultimately approved it. Here's where things went wrong – the proposed joint, while cheaper to construct, after examination by an ex- perienced building enclosure consultant, it was made clear that the design would not perform as expected. But the Architect approved the change requested by the contractor. In litigation, the Architect began to bear some responsibility

for the proposed change. Ulti- mately, the parties settled, and the building underwent almost an entire recladding project. In hindsight, the Architect relied on the recommendation of a 3rd party without assessing their reputation – as a result, the Architect was included in the lawsuit. The recommendations of a good consultant can profoundly influence a project's success, far outweighing the cost of the services. Establishing that your consultant is credible, reliable, and empathetic is essential. Has the consultant established credibility by understanding and anticipating your needs and identifying those you may need to be made aware of? Has the consultant demonstrated that they are reliable? Are com- mitments made and kept? Does the consultant create a sense of comfort in discussing chal- lenges and potential conflicts openly? Conflicts and differ- ences occur on most projects. And finally, is the consultant motivated by the challenges of your needs rather than being focused on their own needs? Now for the comical part – about two years later, as we finalized the repairs on the first building, I crossed paths with this same consultant on an- other litigation case. This time he was an expert witness for the contractor. While standing around with the attorneys and myself, this consultant bragged that none of his designs had ever had a leak – my attorney and I had a good laugh. Daniel Axson, P.E. is re- gional manager of facilities services for ECS Mid‑Atlan- tic, LLC. MAREJ Cresa arranges Allied Telecom Group’s 15,000 s/f lease ARLINGTON, VA — Allied Telecom Group has signed a 15,000 s/f lease at 1400 Crystal Dr. in Arlington. With the renegotiation, it reduces their headquarters footprint by 10,000 s/f to accommodate market changes precipitated by the pandemic’s effects on office utilization. Cresa’s Jon Olmstead and Rich Rhodes represented the company in the transaction. 1400 Crystal Dr. is a 308,898 s/f 14-story, class A office building near the Crystal City Metro Station and Amazon’s HQ. MAREJ

ating and selecting a consultant to help with a project can be daunting. Consider the follow- ing story (but hang around for the end of the article for the best part). I received a call from a property manager to report that his 22-story build- ing was experiencing around fifteen persistent but minor leaks. I discussed their issues, visited the site, and then wrote a proposal for what appeared to be a straightforward leak investigation. However, this


EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. From start to finish, our facilities consultants are experienced in due diligence, design, construction and operations to help you protect and maximize your investment.



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