Experienced construction managers know that bidding out scopes of work correctly is a major element of a successful project. Paving needs to be coordinated with weather and earthworks, mechanical with structural, and masonry with doors for example. Some scopes are straightforward, and some are complex, requiring an experienced project manager to deliver it successfully.
Each discipline comes with its own challenges and security systems are no different. Before you start procurement make sure that you take this into account. Security Contractors that accept the work will most likely bid it out to another company that is specialized in adding more cost to the project. You also lose some control over the scope if given to your contractor’s sub.
Today, we are looking at five items that security contractors typically do not provide:
Perhaps the most contentious and complicated part of any new construction project. Door hardware is one of the most difficult to coordinate. Security subcontractors typically do not provide mechanical locksets, electric strikes, magnetic locks, or barrier free devices; this is for good reason.
The architectural trade providing doors and door frames must ensure that each door and frame have the correct swing, security provisions, preparations for locksets, door power, and communications if required. Consider trying to coordinate this with two or three other contractors to ensure all the frames are correct and there are no changes. This is especially true for design build projects where the design may continue to change well into
The security design may change, but the architectural has not. This will result in frames that do not match the security requirements. It’s best for the architectural contractor to get both sets of drawings and identify any contradictions.
Lastly, on large construction projects there might be a significant amount of time between the procurement of door frames, hardware, and security devices. If a product changes within this time it could lead to incompatible frames or extensive field modifications.
Electrical Power and infrastructure
Another item often overlooked is the electrical infrastructure for the security systems. In some cases, the contractor will be able to provide this service but it can cause congestion in small rooms or areas with multiple trades working in close proximity. This can also affect the schedule of the project.
Many security subcontractors do not employ electricians This may change depending on union agreements and state regulations, however any scope that is over fifty volts generally requires an electrician to install. This will include circuit breakers, electrical, wire, and power receptacles as well as other equipment. If electrical work is required of the security contractor then they must hire an electrician to do it. Generally this is more expensive than directly contracting an electrician for the same work.
It’s best to leave the infrastructure to a single electrical contractor.
Depending on the specific contractor the installation of network equipment may have to be provided by someone else. Similarly, the electrical scope, network equipment is generally not part of the security contractor’s scope and for similar reasons.
However, on new construction projects there is a large scope for a network contractor. They will typically provide network, switches, servers, fiber and ethernet cabling, any patch panels, network jacks, and racks.
Modern buildings use a system called structured cabling where all devices requiring communications are part of the same backbone pathways. Structured cabling provides communications to many different building systems and unless there is a reason for security to be physically separated (think government projects), it will most likely be a part of these same pathways and connect to the same network hardware.
To avoid configuration problems on the network it’s beneficial for all network hardware to be provided by the same company. It makes it easier for the client’s IT staff to manage and maintain uniformity across the network.
Poles, arms, foundations, and other structures
Something I found early on in my career is that security contractors do not install structures or poles. On several projects I have found coordinating this to be problematic. The civil electrical contractor responsible for installing conduit and lighting poles is typically the best option. Most security contractors avoid work like this because of insurance requirements and risk of injury to their employees who do not normally perform this kind of work.
Coordinating either shared lighting poles or dedicated security poles can also be complicated as lighting and security cameras, or other sensors require the pole to remain as still as possible. On windy days security and lighting poles will sway slightly depending on their design. Generally, this is acceptable for lighting, but security cameras must remain still for their analytics to work correctly.
Structures like gantries over roadways may also come with similar problems although, typically these are well defined by a Department of Transportation and tend to be standard for specific roadways. Considering the danger of erecting these structures and the skillset normally involved, roadway signage contractors or intelligent traffic contractors will install these. The coordination items remain the same.
Footings and foundations required for security equipment installed outdoors are again not typically provided by security contractors. Paving contractors working on the site will typically do this work. These installations require significant knowledge or rebar and concrete to build a foundation that will last many years to come. Security contractors will provide required sizing and weights for a properly constructed foundation.
Barrier arms, gates
Lastly, barrier arms and gates are not typically installed by security contractors. This equipment is normally provided by a fence or gate contractor and has specific installation requirements.
Both barrier arms and gates, if installed incorrectly, can burn out the drive motor causing the gates to fail either in an opened or closed position.
Failed gates and arms may also damage the foundation or fence itself. Gates are robust and very heavy, usually made from metal or wood. If they fail, they are hard to move and will cause undue stress to their supporting system damaging foundations and possibly causing damage to vehicles or structures nearby.
There are several considerations to make prior to developing scopes of work and these are a few examples which may greatly affect the success of your next project. Identifying scope gaps and coordination issues early in the design or procurement process will help your project run smoothly.
How Can We Help?
Need help with your next security project bid? We are here to help; Bastion Security Group LLC is an experienced security systems design and consulting firm who understands the complexity of security, information, communications, and technology projects.
We help architects, engineers, and construction managers deliver successful projects to their clients. We also act as representatives to business owners to ensure that designs and installation meet the clients’ requirements.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.