As architects continue to imagine and design complex projects; it is becoming increasingly common that fall arrest and tie-back equipment are located on terraces of buildings.
As the condominium market is still as competitive as ever; builders and developers are coming up with special features and incentives to lure buyers. Items like barbecues, bars, built in kitchens, gardens, lounges, hot tubs, patio furniture, and even pools are frequently being included on terraces of buildings. While these are great selling features for buyers, they do create complications when designing window washing and fall protection systems.
These condominiums are so lucrative that every detail is considered. Therefore, as much of the buildings equipment is hidden as possible in common areas and private terraces (to not disrupt the aesthetics). This usually means on terraces that our equipment is recessed under some sort of removable paver stones. This regularly causes two major problems:
1) the paver stones over the recessed equipment are not actually removable
2) items are placed over top the recessed equipment
If it is planned accordingly there is a simple solution for problem “1)” as there are covers and inserts that can be manufactured and installed in paver stones that allow for them to be (rather easily) removed whenever recessed equipment (underneath them) require access.
If the design of the window washing and fall protection system is provided to the architect then the architect can review to ensure there are no disruptions.
What should the architect review?
1) They should ensure that no items (the special feature and incentives mentioned above or any others) are placed over top the recessed equipment.
2) They should confirm items that are in line with the point of suspension (perpendicular from the parapet to the equipment) will not interfere with the rigging lines.
This is where problem “2)” can become complicated. The architect and equipment manufacturer have communicated and reviewed all of the areas but then a tenant installs a deck and built in kitchen on their terrace (usually without contacting the condominium corporation). This makes accessing the recessed equipment nearly impossible which may mean a drop of windows cannot be washed or a section of the building façade cannot be maintained.
While usually a worker can move some items like small barbecues or potted plants, some items like large barbecues or large planter boxes simply cannot be moved. A worker in some cases may not even want to move anything because they are concerned about damaging the property.
It must be stressed to tenants the importance of communicating any additions and modifications to their terrace that they are making. The tenant should notify the condominium corporation and then the condominium corporation should contact the window washing and fall protection system manufacturer. Also, the condominium corporation should notify tenants when the equipment is going to be inspected or used so that the tenant can remove any items that are over the recessed equipment.