No matter how careful you are, there will always be something that gets overlooked. The best practice on any new or retrofit project is developing a clear and effective communications method with your design and construction team. Assign the most qualified person to represent your church on that design team and, if at all possible, allow them to make this their top priority.
Especially in the technology areas that our organization represents, it’s so important to have your project representative understand the needs of the church board, pastor, paid or volunteer system operators, and every other major technology user. They need to have input on what they need and want. This is so easy to say and so hard to do. The main reason is that technology changes so quickly the users don’t know what’s really available. Add to that the lack of available time during the year to have these discussions it can be quite frustrating.
Most cost overruns occur on technology projects because someone forgot to ask the users either how they intended to use something or where they intended to use it. For example, determining the audiovisual system placement and whether it will be used from the front or rear of the room. Or, selecting the best location of the control and display devices. For the most part, pay special attention to the placement of any devices that use a conduit system. It’s quite costly to change after the walls and floors have been finished. Even if the system is wireless, the placement of remote devices needs to be properly designed, as the distance limitations are important. The list of things to consider goes on and on, but the main point is that most change orders for electronic systems are a result of guessing on how the equipment is to be used. Do yourself and your organization a huge favor and find this out ahead of time.
A great new tool for organizing your project is the Construction Specifications Institutes’ (CSI) MasterFormat 2004 document. This is an awesome new way to develop your technology plan with the project architects and design engineers. It’s like the Dewey Decimal system of construction information. All the latest systems technology is organized into three new divisions. Division 25 is for your integrated building automation systems, Division 27 is for the communications systems, and Division 28 is for your security and lifesafety systems. It’s a great way to develop a technology plan for your church as you can use each section as a checklist of what needs to be discussed with your architect, engineer, consultant, and the people who will be using the systems.
You can’t avoid every mistake or eliminate change orders entirely. Advancements in technology, product availability, and the simple desire for the latest and greatest will always drive changes in the original design. Typically, electronic systems manufacturers are very good about designing products compatible with prior generation product installation methods. But the longer the project cycle, the more you will experience. A good technology consulting firm and systems contractor will keep you informed of these changes as the job progresses. To locate a qualified systems contractor or design consultant in your area visit www.nsca.org/directory.
National Systems ContractorsAssociation (NSCA)
(800) 446-6722 www.nsca.org