We were commissioned to analyze the cost implications for alternative methods for providing fire protection of the steel structure of a high rise New York City building. The building had been constructed with an asbestos-containing spray fireproofing just months before non-asbestos formulations of spray fireproofing were approved for use in the City. The owner of the building had initiated a lawsuit against the fireproofing manufacturer in order to recoup the cost of removing the fireproofing and replacing it with a non-asbestos-containing material.
The cost and schedule implications for several alternatives were studied including: waiting several months for a non-asbestos formulation to be approved, encasing the steel of the building in concrete (a construction technique referred to in the City as “Goulash” construction), protecting the steel with lath and plaster, and protecting the steel with layers of gypsum drywall. In each case, details of the construction were developed, material quantities determined, and costs were estimated using labor, material, and equipment rates derived from historic records for costs at the time the building was constructed. The monthly carrying cost for the project (general conditions, financing costs, land carrying costs, , etc.) were determined by audit of actual construction cost records. A detailed schedule was prepared for each alternative, and compared to the schedule for the actual construction. This allowed the cost impact of the differing construction schedules for each alternative to be determined.
The decision by the building developer to use asbestos-containing fireproofing instead of waiting for the availability of a non-asbestos formulation, or using an alternative fire protection scheme, resulted in great savings in overall construction costs. Some 25 years after construction of the building, the owner incurred costs to remove the asbestos-containing fireproofing and replace it with a non-asbestos formulation. Making an accurate determination of the savings that was enjoyed at the time of original construction, and the present value of that savings at the time the asbestos-containing fireproofing was replaced with a non-asbestos alternative, assisted the court in resolving the claim by the building owner against the fireproofing manufacturer.