Façade Maintenance & Repair

Chicago is an old city boasting some world renowned architecture. But with that age and beauty comes a lot of costly maintenance.   Our Chicago clients are often tasked with making tough capital expenditure decisions with respect to their facades.   Case in point, we recently performed a façade overhaul for one of our clients in the West Loop who was in the process of repositioning an older timber loft style manufacturing property into an office use.   Our façade work included new aluminum windows, lintel replacement and general masonry grinding and repointing. 

If you are a building owner or property manager, here are some things to consider prior to undertaking any façade related project in Chicago:

  • What's your timeline? - Most products you might use on your façade (joint sealant, masonry sealer, mortar, etc) require at least 24 hours with a temperature not to drop below 35 - 45 degrees Fahrenheit.  As a general rule of thumb for Chicago, plan to be done with your project no later than November 15th to avoid issues with cold weather.
  • What's included in your contractor's schedule? - Have they specified calendar or business days?  Have they accounted for holidays?  Have they accounted for potential inclement weather days or will those be added to the schedule as they occur?
  • How much work needs to be done? - The City needs to know how much work will be done to your façade, including details like lineal footage of lintels to be replaced and square footage of bricks to be repointed.  They will use these estimates when calculating your permit fees.
  • Do you qualify for the Façade Rebate Program or Small Business Improvement Fund? - The City of Chicago provides money to property owners in certain locations who meet certain critera ( Facade Rebate Program and SBIF).  While funds for the Façade Rebate Program in 2010 have already run out, it's not too early to familiarize yourself with the program and mark your calendars for next year's application period.
  • How will this work affect my tenant(s)? - While the majority of facade work will, obviously, be done on the exterior of the building, there are a number of items that might require interior access and work that will surely disrupt your tenant.  Plan accordingly and coordinate with your tenants early.
  • Does my contractor plan to hire an experienced (and insured) pedestrian canopy contractor? - Falling debris is not to be taken lightly (link and link).  You want to make sure you have appropriate protection for pedestrians and that your contractor follows OSHA safety guidelines (OSHA).

If you are wondering whether your building complies with all of Chicago's façade requirements or need to be pointed in the right direction,this is a useful website to reference. 

Did You Know- Tuckpointing, as it is generally meant in the field today, is not an accurate definition of the word (tuckpointing description).  More specifically, when contractors refer to tuckpointing they generally mean to say grinding and repointing (repointing description).


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