Understanding construction tolerances and design features throughout a project
By Andrew Shomar
Foreseeing every potential construction or design issue throughout a project’s life cycle can be challenging. If unexpected issues do arise, they can have an adverse impact on the delivery of a project. But with proper assessment of potential risks and roadblocks comes a higher likelihood of saved time and money. Most importantly, it also helps to ensure a satisfactory delivery that meets – if not exceeds – a client’s expectations.
That’s why it is imperative that the general provisions of access are identified at concept stage, and are implemented throughout the entirety of a project. At MGAC, one of our specialties is overseeing the process of making a building more accessible from concept stage to occupancy.
Setting a national standard
No matter the project, we always stress how vital it is to understand the general requirements of access and mobility standards (e.g., AS1428.1-2009) and the intent on how to make a building more accessible.
The Australian Standards specifies what design requirements are necessary for new building work as required by the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Design features of this nature may include:
· an accessible path of travel from the site boundary to a building’s main entrance
· circulation spaces of doorways
· general paths of travel
· turning spaces at end of corridors
· passing bays and spatial elements at schematic/Development Application (DA) Stage ensuring this is captured before council submission.
Time and time again, we see modifications of DA approved plans (S4.55 statements also known as Section 96) due to a lack of oversight to capture the required design elements. Ultimately, this comes down to a poor understanding of what is required from an accessibility perspective.
Making building more accessible
As specialised accessibility consultants, we always focus on capturing the finer details as we move from design and construction stage. This means we don’t just look at a single design feature in isolation – we look at every design feature holistically. Our team will hone in on a range of design features for review including:
· luminance contrast of Tactile Ground Service Indicators (TGSI’s/nosings)
· sanitary compartment layout
· installation of fixtures, such as the pan and basin.
These finer items must be captured at the design stage to make certain the overall intent of the design has been achieved. Our role is to help ensure that the occupancy is a much easier and smoother process for those requiring these accessibility features. A lack of attention to these details can have extreme consequences, including significant delays. It can also result in costly variations back to the client by rectification of works (Deemed to Safety or DtS) or a Performance Solution.
This is where our particular expertise understanding of the general provisions of AS1428.1 at every stage comes in handy. We can be on the ground from the early schematic design stage, right through to the liaising with O.C. contractors, designers and architects.
Having a trusted accessibility consultant on hand throughout the duration of the project is essential. It helps to ensure quality site coordination and holistic recommendations that can be easily implemented on-site.