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How to Adapt to Evolving City Regulations

The Challenge

We had an oil-to-gas conversion project that we bid out over two years ago, and had plans and specs done. As we were doing the work, the Department of Buildings (DOB) changed some of its directives. We had a gas meter room inside the boiler room. They were concerned that if there was a gas leak that the gas would go back into the boiler room and explode. The city came out with a mandate in the middle of the project, saying that if you have a meter room inside the boiler room, you need to put a gas detector in there with a device that would automatically shut down the boiler. There were other directives from the DOB as well.

The work in total – with additional work above and beyond the oil-to-gas conversion – came to about $40,000. The board was very upset. I had to tell them that the city’s rules are constantly evolving. As the project was going on, the city had changed the rules. It’s a very widespread problem right now, where buildings will have to comply with different regulations that change the cost of the job even as it’s being done.

The Solution

The engineer, the contractor, and I went back to the DOB and negotiated with them. We saved thousands of dollars.

The Lesson

What boards have to learn is to trust the manager and his business acumen when he’s choosing vendors. And you have to stand behind him. Sometimes in this business we almost feel like when we walk into meetings, we’re adversaries. We’re your allies. Boards have to have more confidence in the firms they hire.

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