2019 hospital construction survey

In March, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) released the results of its annual construction survey. Each year the survey focuses on different core topics – this year, the spotlight was on (1) the cost of regulations and uneven code enforcement, and (2) forecast for new construction, major renovation, and building systems in 2019-2020.

A summary of the results on code compliance expenditures, covering respondents’ experience over the past 3 years includes:

  • > Spent an average of 13% of design funding on consultants for compliance issues
  • > Spent an average of 7% of construction funding on addressing citations during surveys
  • > Spent an average of 10% of construction funding on correcting compliance issues due to conflicting or improper code interpretations
  • > Almost half (45%) of respondents said they have incurred extra costs due to conflicting or improper code interpretations on a construction project

The article recommends starting early in the project to have regular conversations with the AHJs about compliance issues as they arise, and try to achieve consensus with the AHJ on interpretation before costly changes are necessary.

Survey forecast of new construction, major renovation, systems replacements and upgrades:

  • > 23 percent of respondents said that they are currently renovating or building acute care hospitals, and 22 percent said they plan to do so within the next three years.
  • > 9 percent of respondents are building new or replacement plants, or renovating plants, this year; and another 14 percent plan to do so within the next three years.
  • > 34 percent of hospitals are replacing or upgrading their air handlers/ventilation in the next 12 months, and another 11 percent are doing so in 13 to 24 months.
  • > Nearly 22 percent of respondents said they are currently replacing or upgrading plumbing fixtures and piping, and another 5 percent are planning to do so in 13 to 24 months.
  • > Only 72 percent said they plan to do commission their finished projects this year, compared to 74 percent last year and 70 percent the year before. It was opined that many minor projects do not require commissioning.
  • > 28 percent of respondents noted that they are replacing or upgrading security systems in the next 12 months, compared to 20 percent who said that last year. Last year, 4 percent reported they were currently replacing or upgrading their telehealth systems, but this year only 2 percent said that.

Although not mentioned in the ASHE article, the impact of 5G in hospital systems as capabilities begin to roll out in 2019 is likely to be significant, and security systems will be an essential element of replacements or improvements in communications systems.

According to Chad Beebe, CHFM, FASHE, ASHE’s deputy executive director for advocacy, “I would say that any major system in the construction project has to be commissioned to ensure the institution that it will operate as designed. We recommend to all of our hospital clients that commissioning is an essential part of the process of planning, design and construction.”

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