Top 10 Reasons To Hire A Building Envelope Consultant
Top 10 Reasons to Hire a
Building Envelope Consultant
Rick De La Guardia, E.I., M. ASCE
1. Help In Avoiding Design Problems Before They Happen.
Consult with a knowledgeable glazing specialist BEFORE you complete your
design. Working with glass, aluminum, structural silicone and glass Interlayers
and knowing the limitations of the State’s product approval system is a very
Having to change the design of the building envelope does not only affect the
exterior aesthetics but it could impact other trades as well.
Not considering the availability of systems allowing very large spans could create
a situation where additional internal reinforcing is required which could mean
testing and one-time approval or having to design a supporting steel framework.
Do not get caught with a design that looks great, one which the client loves, only
to realize later that there are no approved products that can meet your design
intent…OR…be forced to redesign, causing delays and increasing cost, time and
effort by having to go through the testing and approval route.
2. Help In Minimizing Delays Due To Architectural Redesign
If it is too late, and you find yourself in the position described in item 1, you
will need specialized advice to minimize the affects and the schedules of
You may need help to:
select an alternate glazing system that best fits design intent and meets code
Determine and resolve the affects on interior and exterior finishes.
Consult with the building department on quick resolution.
Obtain a site specific one-time approval to help maintain the design and attempt
to avoid testing.
Provide special inspections to speed up installation and help recover lost time.
3. Ensuring Proper Compliance With The Codes And Standards.
Working in the State of Florida is like working in a foreign country with
respect to building envelope design.
Did you think the State of Florida was governed by a uniform code? Think
again. There are actually 2 building codes in Florida disguised as one.
You have the High Velocity Hurricane Zone (Miami-Dade and Broward
Counties) and then you have the rest of the State.
In addition, every municipality has nuisances which lead to varying
interpretations and enforcement of the code.
4. Assistance In Selecting Affordable & Applicable Products.
All building envelope products sold in the State of Florida must go through a
rigorous design, testing and certification process.
They must obtain a State Product Approval or a Miami-Dade County Product
There are wide variations between the two approval agencies which could
cause confusion and permit delays.
There is a constant change of available products due to approvals that are
expiring, getting renewed and revised or new product approvals being
Do not get caught specifying a system that does not work or costs much more
than a suitable alternative.
5. Help In Avoiding Construction Delays.
If you have to wait until your design is complete and for your contractor to
value engineer your envelope, it may be too late.
You simply cannot change envelope systems after a permit has been issued
by value engineering without going through the entire approval process of
revised shop drawings, calculations, plans processing and permit revision.
Glazing systems typically have very long lead times and even longer when
special finishes are desired.
Do not get caught up in the value engineering craze. There is no such thing
when dealing with building envelope systems.
Do your value engineering during the design phase by having specialized
advise up front.
6. Help In Minimizing Rejected Submittals Or Comments.
Most municipalities in Florida require above and beyond what other states
require for approval of building envelope products due to strict hurricane
Most municipalities differ or have special requirements in their review
Did you know that some municipalities in the West Coast of Florida require
Turtle friendly glass?
Did you know that one municipality in South Florida does not allow metal stud
framing on the building exterior?
Do not get stuck with endless delays and resubmittals by having someone
unfamiliar with the local requirements advising you on glazing submittal
7. Assistance In Selecting A Qualified Glazing Contractor.
Not all glazing contractors do good work. Some do, but mostly while under
Most will try and do the least amount of work possible to get the job done
regardless of quality.
Make sure you have someone knowledge overseeing installation to avoid bait
and switch from approved products to their cheaper alternative (glass,
silicone, interlayer, anchors, etc.)
8. Assistance Resolving Field Condition Issues During Construction.
There is no construction project without something not being as it should.
Having to make design changes, as a result of field conditions, that require
the attention of a qualified consultant or the design engineer are part of the
Do not accept remedial work repairs or approval of deficient installations.
What good is it to have state of the art hurricane mitigation products if due to
field conditions will result in deficient installation?
9. Help In Protection Of Life And Property During a Storm.
The building envelope is our first line of defense during a storm.
It is the only thing protecting our friends, family and property from fierce
winds and wind borne debris.
Make sure that all aspects of your envelope are in order, from design, to shop
drawings, to plans review, installation and inspections.
10. Help In Minimizing Exposure Due To Damage After A Storm.
It is not a matter of if we will get struck by another major hurricane, it is a
matter of when.
We live in a highly litigious society.
Make sure that when we do get struck again, that you have done your due
diligence in ensuring all aspects were done based on all available research,
technology and design to avoid any potential legal claims of negligence
should your project suffer unwarranted damage.
Hurricane Prone States and Regions
Don’t put yourself and your project or client in the compromising position of
Non-Compliance With Codes
Unresolved Field Conditions
Loss of Property
Unwarranted Failure and Liability.
Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from the University of Miami.
President/Founder of DLG Engineering, Inc., a structural consulting firm based in South Florida.
Past-President of the University of Miami College of Engineering Alumni Association
20 years experience consulting in the building envelope and glazing field.
Developed and presented live webinars for the American Society of Civil Engineers on Hurricane Mitigation
Design ( January, July and November 2013)
Vice Chair of the Architectural Engineering Institute’s Curtain Wall Committee.
Presented on hurricane design of glazing systems to:
Florida Structural Engineers Association
ATC-SEI 2012 Advances in Hurricane Engineering Conference
Written articles on:
“Allowable Strength of Glass: How to Design Safely for Today’s Threats”
Glass Magazine, July 2010)
“Growing Awareness: Changes in ASCE 7-10 to Affect Hurricane-Prone Regions” (Architects’ Guide to
Glass & Metal, December 2011)