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Abbot Building Restoration removed and replaced weatherproofing sealant at the Pleasant Street Apartments in Malden, Mass.
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The bell tower at St. James Episcopal Church in Cambridge, Mass., was carefully removed and replaced, stone-by-stone, by Abbot Building Restoration.

At first glance, estimating and bidding a major masonry restoration project may seem rather straightforward. Define the job, price the job, bid the job. While these are the keys to the process, the tasks associated with each of these fundamentals must be carefully planned to assure that the process is successfully executed.

The process begins when the building owner/manager identifies problems, such as water infiltration or deteriorating masonry, that need to be addressed. In most cases, the owner/ manager seeks help from an architectural/engineering consulting firm that is selected based on either past experience, response to a request for proposals, or a strong referral from an associate or colleague.

The owner/manager and consultant meet to discuss the problems. The comprehensive investigation typically incorporates a visual survey of the entire building enclosure, including the roof and foundation. As part of the process, masonry or other exterior components (windows, EIFS, etc.) may be removed in problem areas to determine the nature of the defects.

Hiring an architectural/engineering consultant assures the owner that all aspects of the building restoration are evaluated and considered. These can include not only all of the structural issues, but also technical considerations such as insurance requirements, governmental regulations, and energy code requirements. The consultant is also a valuable ally in selecting and managing contractors throughout the restoration process.

Following the visual and technical investigation of the building enclosure, the consultant generally prepares a condition survey report. This report outlines the problems and recommends potential remedial solutions, provides several options based on a variety of factors, and includes preliminary budgets for each option.

Once the building owner/manager selects an option to be implemented, the consultant prepares contract documents. These include plans and specifications detailing the scope of work to be executed, materials to be used, and warranties required upon completion of the work.

Calling all (qualified) contractors

The owner/manager arranges a pre-bid meeting with qualified masonry contractors, based on past experience and referrals. At the meeting, the consultant distributes, reviews, and discusses the scope of work with the contractors, and often enters into a “give and take” to solicit contractor recommendations. The consultant may then issue one or more addendums that outline accepted revisions to certain aspects of the work detailed in the project documents.

Upon receiving the revised project specifications, each candidate contractor performs a “takeoff” on the plans. This includes a comprehensive review of the drawings and specifications, and one or more onsite visits to the property. The contractor performs his own field measurements to verify the accuracy of the measurements and quantities outlined in the plan.

Following the onsite evaluations, the contractor quantifies units of materials required and areas to be repaired. After the contractor has a complete understanding of the scope of work, he uses his preferred estimating process or technique to generate a bid. Today, this process has become more sophisticated with specialized estimating software.

Once all project costs have been established based on the specifications described in the plan, the contractor enters lump sum and unit pricing, as well as any other required pricing breakdown, onto the bid form. The contractor should also carefully review the sample contract provided in the bid package to assure compliance with the owner's and consultant's terms and conditions. This document is usually the American Institute of Architects industry standard contract.