Construction people looking at blueprints
December 17, 2021
By Shadi Salman

What to Consider When Choosing a Water Treatment Contractor for a New Construction Project

When a company is planning new construction on a commercial, industrial, or institutional building, one of the biggest hurdles is the tedious and confusing bidding process.

As one of the key owners of this process, the mechanical contractor has the responsibility of selecting the best subcontractors for a number of HVAC and supporting systems. Since it’s impossible – not to mention impractical – for a contractor to know every minute detail about every system, they have to select subcontractors that are not only knowledgeable but can be trusted to keep the project on schedule, up to building specifications, and within budget.

When it comes to selecting a water treatment company for a new construction project, we’ve seen the decision made based on a faulty, but understandable, assumption: that bidding the right treatment system is just a simple, straightforward matter of following the specs. If there’s one thing we’ve learned at HOH over our 50+ years, it’s that a simple, straightforward spec is like Bigfoot – hard to find. Following specifications without question or filter can end up costing everyone involved.

Following Building Specifications

Not only do design engineers have to be versed in a multiplicity of systems, but they also have to know how the various systems work together. It’s no easy task, especially with large, complex buildings. And with multiple parties involved, it’s no wonder that specifying an ancillary support system like water treatment can become a patchwork affair that unintentionally contains mixed messages.

Here’s an example we’ve run across more than once. Say you’re a mechanical contractor and you receive specs for a new hotel building with a 3-page section detailing a cooling tower program and everything associated with the tower – chemical pumps, injection assemblies, and all dependent materials. But when you dig further into the main mechanicals of the project, you find there’s actually no cooling tower planned for this building. So, should your bid include a tower program or not?

That’s a pretty fundamental decision – a cooling tower program can add as much as $12,000 to a project’s costs, so you should be absolutely positive that it’s necessary. But for every extreme situation such as this, there are dozens of others that are more subtle and submerged in the details. That’s where it’s so important to draw on the experience of a seasoned water treater versed in new construction.

To successfully avoid headaches and missteps that can put you over budget, your water treatment sub is going to have to examine the specs, interpret the best intent, bring to bear their specialized knowledge of equipment improvements and efficiencies, and come up with a solution that works. And by “works” I mean a solution that reasonably meets spec, fits the budget and ultimately delivers in the best interests of contractor and building ownership.

Despite the expertise and knowledge that goes into a new building, the specifications and plans just don’t always line up, and mechanical contractors should keep that in mind when accepting bids.

Choosing a Trusted Partner

When selecting a water treatment company, mechanical contractors must consider immediate returns such as making sure their project is under budget. But zeroing in on just the immediate consequences can often lead to projects being underbid and underperforming. The contractor should also be just as confident in a water treatment company’s ability to provide the best return on investment over the long term. At HOH, we’re very intentional about making recommendations that maximize the long-term ROI for the building owner.

For example, we will often have to make suggestions on chemical pumps, which are used to inject necessary treatment chemicals into the water supply. We favor pumps that are reliable for the long term and always spec-compliant but aren’t always the least expensive. Compare this to using pumps that will only last for the duration of construction!Download the Water Management eBook

Building a partnership between contractor and subcontractor also helps a builder owner and mechanical contractor in the future, not just on their current project. After 50+ years of water treatment projects, we find that some of our smoothest projects happen between parties that have worked together in the past. Familiarity and a deeper understanding of a company’s unique work processes can eliminate the kind of confusion you find in our cooling tower program example.

For a mechanical contractor, new construction bidding is more than just picking the subcontractor with the lowest price. Each project is unique and the subcontractor must be able to interpret your project’s needs, regardless of mixed messages from the specifications and plans. The correct water treatment company will come equipped with the experience and expertise to navigate any issue that may arise.

If you have any questions about what to consider when selecting a water treatment company for your next project, feel free to reach out to us.