In the restoration business owners and architects need to know how to define their expectations from contractors regarding workmanship and quality. One effective way to deliver this is through test panels and mockups. They help to confirm material selection and methods of installation as well as historic profile finishes that need to be matched to the existing building.
Visual test panels installed prior to the bidding process is the most cost effective way to steer the contractors down the right road when it comes down to pricing out a project. Contractors appreciate owners and architects that have set aside some money in the design and development stage of the project to establish material matches, like brick, stone, mortar and plaster among other materials. Attributes such as color and texture can be reviewed and agreed on by the project team, with any adjustments made before the materials are ordered and installed.
The owner, architect and contractor can use test panels and mockups as a way to evaluate efficiency and effectiveness of the completed work. Technical field representatives can also be on hand to offer suggestions for recommendations to improve product performance. Once approved, test panels and mockups should be the standard for the work and retained for reference throughout the construction phase to serve as a basis for comparison to the work-in-progress.
Whether part of the contract documents or performed under a separate arrangement prior to bid, test panels and mockups should 1) address the range of conditions representative of the entire project; 2) be installed with the specified materials next to the original materials; and 3) be installed by the workers that will be performing to work in the construction phase. Failure to execute effective test panels and mockups can result in unnecessary additional work due to an unhappy building owner and his picky architect.