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3 ways to Reduce Change Orders for Door Hardware & Access Control Systems

The demand for secure buildings is creating greater design dependencies between door hardware and electronic access control systems on projects across industries. Historically, owners/architects have relied on boiler plate manufacturer specifications for doors, frames, and hardware. That reliance is now resulting in costly change orders from life safety code compliance issues and mismatched hardware sets. Use these three tactics to prevent change orders related to door hardware and electronic access control systems on your projects.

1. Ensure Specification Clarity & Code Compliance

Many times change orders are a direct result of unclear (“loose”) specifications or contradictions between specifications and current building codes. Make sure your designer has a clear understanding of the current life safety code requirements for your building type, integration dependencies between system components, and owner requirements for functionality. Vetting the designers depth of knowledge for life safety codes and ability to meet specific owner’s requirements will help eliminate issues found during AHJ inspections and prevent the launch of systems that don’t meet end user needs. Last but not least, don’t expect free specifications from a manufacturer to be coordinated with your access control system design. These free specs can work great on simple projects but they can become a major liability on your complex projects.

Real project example: On a recent project, the door swing direction was not specified accurately to meet code. This “simple” issue required replacements and rework on over 50 openings costing the owner $50,000.

2 .  Use One Team for Door Hardware and Access Control System Design

Using a single source for designing your access control system and writing your door hardware specifications will prevent disconnects between the door hardware supplier and electronic access control integrator. Utilizing a single source will also speed up the design process and provide one point of contact for architects and contractors.

Real project example: Multiple doors that required card access did not have the correct door hardware to enable the system to operate as required. This occurred on 20 openings costing the project $20,000 and delayed opening by 3 weeks. 

3. Use an Independent Designer

Engaging an unbiased 3rd party designer for door hardware and electronic access control systems will ensure you are getting the right fit products and that integration “oversights” aren’t made. Too often, designs and specifications are made based on sales targets and manufacturers incentives. Using an independent designer avoids any conflict of interest.

Real project example: An inferior locking set that didn’t meet code was specified by a manufacturer. The inferior locking sets were caught by the AHJ and it cost the project over $80,000 in rework and nearly a month on the timeline.


HSJ provides owner’s representation and design engineering services specifically for Division 8 (Openings), Division 27 (Data Communications) and Division 28 (Electronic Safety & Security) disciplines. The inter-dependencies and coordination needed between these three scopes are all managed by our in-house multi-skilled team. CONTACT US to discuss your project.

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