To promote and encourage shared use of existing and new communications towers as the preferred option rather than construction of additional single-use towers, many municipalities have posted edicts that new towers are not to be built if an older tower can be used near the intended location. This has brought about the need to modify many structures to increase their load handling capabilities since studies show that approximately 50% to 60% of the nation’s 250,000 towers are at or near their load capacity.
Changing out a few braces that will not impact the existing foundation is the desired remedy of all tower owners when their structure needs reinforcing to accommodate relocated or additonal loading. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.
Selecting an engineering firm to provide a retrofit design to bring a tower into compliance requires a careful assessment by the client. The industry is fraught with numerous dissapointing and delayed rehabililtation projects. The engineering is adequate, but the lack of the engineer’s practical installation knowledge create the difficulties, adding to the project’s pricing and delays.
Countless engineering firms can propose a wide range of strengthening solutions, but for some towers it can become a daunting task.
Some tower owners will consult several engineering firms and look into a design-build solution. One common issue in modifications is that an engineer is compensated for an analysis and solution and then the owner or carrier has to find a contractor who will build the plan accordingly, and most importantly, affordably. A design-build plan is a program in which the engineer provides the design and solution along with the bidding so that construction costs can be viewed up front, removing the burden of bidding and project management from the owner or carrier.
Although an engineer’s solution may be technically correct, oftentimes there is no focus on cost and potential municipal, safety and tenant conflicts. Does the modification block a climbing ladder or is it unsafe to implement? Will the design accept new tenants? Will it change the zoning aspects of the site? Will the current carriers need to be taken off line during installation?
Choose an engineering firm and a design that best fits all criteria for the site within the limits of the project’s budget, but also ensure that your selected firm can meet your timetable and provide fabrication and installation drawings with a clearly delineated scope of work.
Retrofitting engineering pricing varies depending upon the size and type of structure, complexity of design and services required.
A picture is worth a thousand dollars or more
Most installation and contractual conflicts arise because the design engineer was not provided with detailed photographs of each section of the structure that would have indicated that transmission lines were required to be relocated, dish mounts reworked because they conflicted with encapsulation collars and other expensive installation variances.
Engineering fees are based upon the structure type and the retrofitting requirements. We recommend that you contact our listed geotechnical and structural engineers to obtain additional information about their services, capabilities and retrofitting experience.