Remodels or additions to existing buildings
Remodels or additions to existing buildings or historic buildings have special considerations.
Historic buildings need to maintain specific standards as far as not drilling into wood or stone surfaces and most of the properties have certain rules they have to follow avoiding wire mold and conduit. Wireless system can be considered when access is limited.
Companies that are involved in this type of work understand that the labor hours are not the same as on a normal new project. Often if it normally takes 30 minutes to run wire to a device or appliance and another 30 minutes to install, wire, program and test the device this figure will be different in historic buildings.
Owners would be prudent to hire an electrical engineer also known as professional engineer PE to measure the building and design the systems whether they be security systems or fire alarms. The engineer can then produce a CAD DWG drawing for the owner that can be used to bid off of along with a set of specifications.
The requirements of the code and the local fire marshal also need to be considered. Code interpretation and requirements need to be discussed before the bids are requested.
If the building requires voice evacuation with speaker strobes rather than horn strobes this is a very big price difference. If the system requires horn strobes or speaker strobes inside the classrooms and not just in the egress pathways this will change the price drastically.
The determination of these type of things comes from IBC/IFC and NFPA 72. The local fire marshal should also be involved and the person that is in charge of the historic society.
The fire alarm contractor or owner will also need to hire an electrical contractor for any high voltage work that needs to be done such as high voltage duct detectors, stove shut offs etc…
When considering wireless there are different products that can be used and you need to understand that batteries normally need to be changed every 2 years and in many of these devices or appliance there are 4 or 8 batteries in each device/appliance. Currently there are no products that are wireless that can integrate with voice evacuation so wireless speaker strobes are not available yet. When you think that wireless may be a good fit an RF test needs to be performed which takes 70 min for the RF main test plus the leap frog test which can take much longer so if you are the owner you need to pay a contractor to do these tests.
For historic or buildings that you will add fire alarm or other systems the owner should pay an alarm company for a site evaluation where the contractor puts a tech or technicians in the ceiling, in the tunnels and behind the walls, up every hatch, in the boiler rooms and in the crawl spaces to find out what it will really take to complete a job such as this.
I have worked for 3 alarm companies in the last 22 years and on one such project we estimated 440 hours for a historic fire alarm and we ended up going over 169 hours . This is a risk you need to take as an estimator and as an alarm company when bidding projects. This same organization had additional buildings they wanted us to bid on and we were not the low bidder on the additional buildings because we learned or you could say we paid for our education on the first building so we would not make the same mistakes on the future buildings. On new buildings the labor is easy to estimate as long as you know how high the ceiling is, if you need a lift, the amount of wire you need and the access especially when the building is being built so you can coordinate wire runs etc….
So the point of this blog is to understand that existing buildings have special considerations that need to be done right and not by the lowest bidder because the lowest bidder will often try to cut corners or they may not provide the best equipment.
At Peak Alarm we pay our insurance, we license all of our people, we buy and install the proper cable, we figure in the penetrations that will be required, we put the proper fire chalk in the penetrations, we hire a licensed electrical contractor for high voltage work and we finish the job.
My name is Larry Love Larry@peakalarm.com 801 428 1384 cell 801 898 6003 and you can call me for any of your historic buildings that need fire alarm or security and we can walk through the options that we can provide for you and go over the plans and specifications in order to complete your project right the first time. Going with an experienced company that has been in business for fifty years will be a positive experience.
Peak Alarm currently only has 3 complaints on the www.bbb.org Better Business Bureau and two of our competitors have over 3000 complaints on the BBB. There is a reason for this so instead of just believing the google reviews you should also check out the Better Business Bureau. When a company offers you free equipment understand that they will make their money by charging you more per month or for more months than you would normally sign up for. Be careful when deciding which alarm company to use.