A manufacturer will usually offer a 10- to 12- year guarantee that is assured by the specialist façade contractor, which totally depends on the façade material used. However, façade warranty is conditional and include a long list of exclusions for things like a lack of or insufficient direct handson access, negligence, wear and tear, failure to handle, and faulty installation.
Any failure in a façade’s material could thus prove to be very costly for the building owner if everything that could affect warranty validity is not fully considered. For example, if building owners refuse to follow the warranty contract’s provisions, the warranty will not cover faults or damage. This will very certainly include a need that the façade system be capable of delivering maintenance personnel safely and efficiently.
Inefficient access, for example the strategies that depends on extended reach and wash poles, may not fully comply with warranty terms. As a result, it is critical to establish direct hands-on access possibilities at early stages of design process, so that cleaning and maintenance techniques can be completely integrated into the overall build programme.
To comply with the manufacturer’s warranty terms, façade contractors will specify the cleaning regime and frequency. This data should then be made available to the façade access specialist early in the design process to help them in the selection of the most appropriate types of façade access equipment. All cleaning schedules and frequencies should be documented and made available to the façade contractor and manufacturer upon request. As all glazing systems are subject to some degradation over time, periodic inspection and maintenance works should be performed on a regular basis. The nature of the glazing material, its levels of exposure, and the location of the structure will determine the frequency of maintenance and inspection.
However, unfortunately buildings are sometimes designed with little or no thought and maintenance crews find themselves having to work around poor planning decisions. For example, on an internally glazed structure, it is fairly common to discover that the glass cannot be moved into the finished building due to inside components, defeating the purpose of having internal glazing in the first place.
Importance Of Enhancing Façade Longevity
The impact of the exterior environment should also be addressed during the development of the façade access plan. While this is beyond the control of the building owner or maintenance organisation, it can nullify warranties. Potential defects caused by the environment must therefore be factored in, and they can be minimised if efficient maintenance strategies are considered early on. Tall buildings, for example, are more vulnerable than low-rise buildings, because to their direct exposure to rain and ultraviolet radiation, which causes a greater rate and intensity of deterioration.
Some part of a façade’s integrity is likely to fail over the course of a building’s existence, which is when the warranty comes into play. The façade access designer must evaluate a variety of interconnected variables via pre-construction reports to guarantee that façade warranties are maintained. All the interested parties that includes the building owner, cleaning company, cladding manufacturer, and structural engineer, should be involved in the process.
Mohamed Merchant is an Associate Director at TÜV SÜD Dunbar Boardman, Europe’s leading elevator, escalator and access consultancy. Operating throughout Europe, the Middle East and India, TÜV SÜD Dunbar Boardman is part of TÜV SÜD, one of the world’s leading technical service providers, which has more than 24,000 employees located across over 1,000 locations. He has 20 years’ experience in mechanical engineering, including 17 years in the façade access industry. During this time, he has designed and delivered façade access strategies and systems for major developments within the UK, Europe and the Middle East, including high-rise residential and commercial office developments, retail centres, refurbishment projects, hotels, hospitals and historic buildings.