Elevator Contracts – Shop All Exclusions

raquel-martinez-96648For some, shopping is about more than finding bargains, it is an obsession. They can’t quit comparing apples to apples and finding success in each penny saved. This is despite the fact that quite often going to store after store means burning more gas and time than actual savings generated.  Of course, the more costly the item, the more justification there is for doing a thorough job of looking around and comparing products.

When it comes to elevators, it seems like everything is expensive, especially when it comes to repairs that are outside of the warranty or maintenance contract. People feel trapped by the contract and elevator company, so, often the work is approved without considering other options. But shopping around can help lessen the overall cost of elevator ownership.

If, like most buildings owners, you have a standard oil and grease agreement, you may find that there is lots of (necessary) stuff left outside of the contract or that has been excluded.  For instance, service calls and parts are usually specifically not covered, and good luck getting any major repair to fall under the current maintenance agreement you have. Even full service agreements have their limits. Usually, for repairs outside of the agreement, you will be required to get a quote for the work contractually excluded and only after approval will the work begin. What your current provider may have failed to tell you is that in most circumstances you can ask a different elevator company for bids as well. You get to do some shopping.

Keep in mind, exclusions are reasonable in most cases; owners are just unaware of them until the elevator needs work that is outside of the contract. Here are some of the more common exclusions you need to keep in mind:

  • Vandalism or elevator misuse – This is not just graffiti in the elevator car but any intentional act that hurts the operation or aesthetic appeal of the elevator. An elevator door that has been hit one too many times with a cart can be an example. It is excluded because vandalism is difficult to predict and there’s no way to get a firm handle on the costs until after there’s a problem.
  • Obsolete parts – most elevator contractors and contracts charge a premium for the difference between the normal purchase cost of a regularly available part and the cost to custom manufacture it or find someone that will. Oftentimes, when you start hearing “modernization” mentioned by your technician, it is because parts are getting hard to find.
  • Modernization – It is rarely covered in most elevator contracts. Modernization is excluded because it is a major update to systems and can be quite costly. A modernization really requires a second opinion and an estimate.
  • Proprietary Parts – Proprietary parts are not always excluded directly, but having access to parts and tools that are limited to a specific company makes getting a different company to work on your elevator or bid for work extremely difficult. Never purchase an elevator with proprietary parts and/or control systems. Doing so will severely limit your options for choosing a maintenance service provider.
  • Damaged underground pipes (for hydraulic elevators) – Corrosion can cause real headaches, especially regarding old elevators. Fixing corrosion, otherwise known as replacing pipes, can be a huge cost and is excluded in most contracts.
  • Items outside of the control or scope of the elevator contractor – This can mean a lot of things including, but not limited to, major things like power surges, power failures, or lightening strikes or minor problems caused by debris in door tracks that are preventing doors from functioning. Sometimes, even keys left in the wrong position can generate a service call and can e excluded by maintenance contracts. We have all heard of the $1000 light bulb. If light bulbs are not covered in the service agreement, they can indeed cost you a precious amount.

Especially when it comes to modernization and pipe replacement it is more than just a simple apples to apples comparison for pennies on the dollar. These are very expensive jobs and multiple bids need to be obtained. Extensive upgrades to the elevator cab should be open for multiple bids, as well. Remember, almost any elevator tech can work on any other elevator regardless of the brand (only proprietary parts can be an issue). So, do some shopping and see what others have to offer.  The difference could be thousands of dollars.

If you are in Illinois, we can offer more specific information and estimates. Visit us here.

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Modular Ready for Disaster

Credit Mark Murray
Photo Credit – MassLive/Mark Murray

Imagine if a tornado or other act of nature destroyed your local school just before summer break and just twelve weeks prior to the first day of class for the next school year.  What would you do then? How would you meet the needs of the community, students and teachers? This time of year with hurricane season bearing down on us, it is a distinct possibility that a damaging storm could occur.

Elias Brookings Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts was faced with that problem.  It was June 1, 2011 when a tornado moved quickly through the city, leaving damage to property and four dead in its path. Significant damage was done to some of the school buildings, leaving Brookings Elementary unusable.

With classes for the next school year slated to start on August 29th, options were limited, so a bold plan was announced. An entire functioning temporary two-story classroom building would be operational by the first bell of the new school year, to be used while a new building would be planned and constructed. Complicating matters was that two-stories were needed for the temporary school building due to the limited space available on the property, so an elevator had to be part of the package.

Modular was the only solution.

Modular Saves the Day
Photo Credit – MassLive/Mark Murray

Phone calls were made, meetings were held, plans were drawn up and within weeks modular classrooms were being hoisted into place. The elevator was designed, built, shipped and installed in just six weeks.

For people not familiar with the elevator industry, that accomplishment is nearly miraculous, despite the fact that we do it every day. Most elevator construction, including the hoistway, takes 8 months or more, not eight weeks. The good news for Brookings Elementary, the staff, teachers, students and parents, is that school was opened as promised, on time.

School Opens on Time
Photo Credit – MassLive/Mark Murray

Regardless of the disaster, there are times that buildings and vertical transportation are needed quickly, and modular buildings and elevators can help save the day. Sometimes modular helps reduce costs of business interruption or enables school to open quickly or on time. In some circumstances, like for Brookings, modular is the only solution.

Also, in this case a temporary fix was needed, but offsite construction is more flexible and faster to install than standard stick-built projects, whether it is temporary or permanent. If you are in a situation that needs a fast building solution, modular building should be considered.

An MRL Still Needs a Pit

basis-brooklyn-mrl-finalEveryday at Phoenix Modular we field questions about elevators. When we get the same question multiple times, we usually make it the subject of a blog post as it’s likely that there are more people out there with a similar inquiry. A question that we are getting on a near-monthly basis often goes something like this…

Caller: I was doing some research about machine room-less elevators, and thought about maybe getting one installed and I was wondering if it still needed a pit?

PME: Well, we do provide machine room-less elevators (MRLs), but they do need a pit as all commercial quality elevators do. There are components that have to go under everything and just putting the motor at the top does not change the need for a pit.

Click for the rest of the conversation and the solution.

Safety: A Primary Concern of Modular

This traction elevator is one we toured at Elevator University.
Safety equipment is a must.

If you work in construction at all, you’re probably familiar with the the term “workplace falls”. Two past headlines concerning workplace falls involving elevator shafts include: “Worker Critical After Fall Down Elevator Shaft” and “Man Recuperates After Surviving Fall Down Elevator Shaft.” In the first example, the scaffolding the man was working on collapsed. He fell down the shaft and suffered two broken legs and a broken pelvis. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The second man didn’t fare as well. He was finishing concrete near an elevator opening when he lost his balance and fell 45 feet, breaking two vertebrae and ribs. Fortunately, he still has feeling in his legs and plans to walk again in the future. A third recent accident is under investigation, but it seems that it was an accidental fall down a hoistway as well, this time resulting in death.

Click for ways to be safe!

Elevator U Report: Maintenance – It’s Just Business

Recently, I sat in on a great discussion at Elevator U regarding elevator maintenance. Elevator U is an organization that has an annual gathering of elevator pe

Elevator U Final

rsonnel from colleges and universities around the country. The conference is a great opportunity to meet and greet some great folks in the elevator business and to learn a lot of valuable information through taking part in the various seminars and breakout sessions about the industry. One of the speakers this year was Dr. Clemense Ehoff, an accounting professor at Central Washington University. He is a published writer on information specific to the elevator industry, especially elevator maintenance.

During his presentation, Ehoff made a couple of important points about the vertical transportation industry that ought to be paid special attention by those that own buildings with elevators…Click for the whole report.