Whether working on a building remodel, upgrading a less-than-lovely edifice or designing something brand new from the ground up, architects know that adding awnings can dramatically improve any type and size of structure. However, while you may be well-versed in the principles of structural engineering and a talented artist, too, sometimes architects need a bit of outside expertise when it comes to awnings.
Despite the myriad considerations architects have to contend with, somehow awnings manage to have their own set of special issues. Awnings can be expensive, so addressing these design issues up front ensures they will last a long time, continuing to look and function exactly as intended, without the need for repairs.
Here are 9 tips architects can use to help design “repair prevention” into your awnings:
- Think “right awnings, right place” as you consider your options. For instance, architects love retractable awnings for their seasonal versatility, but retractable awnings aren’t always the best choice.
- Evaluate environmental conditions up front. Heavy winds, snow load, pollution and other factors architects think about can also have a significant impact on an awning’s ability to fend off damage.
- Find out about potential “hidden” restrictions. Zoning and building codes are second nature to architects, but sometimes neighborhood, business district, landlord or other localized rules can sneak up on you. Clients may be disappointed about additional limitations, but neither architects nor clients want to face “repairs” in the form of replacement because some regulation went unmet.
- Choose the right structural design and materials. Awnings can be virtually any size or shape you can dream up. They can be all-metal or fabric-covered aluminum or steel framing. Architects that want to spec fabric awnings should be aware that there are numerous alternatives available. You expect durability, but you can choose fabrics with specialty characteristics such as extreme resistance to UV. You’ll want to investigate which fabrics are appropriate to support any graphics you want to display.
- Quality! Architects and clients have a budget, but this isn’t the place to scrimp. Budgeting for awnings has to be based on total cost of ownership, because upfront “savings” are nearly always more costly down the road. Savings come from interior quality or cutting corners, exactly the things that lead to premature repairs. Insist on reliable brand names and longer warranties that indicate top-quality materials.
- Details can be your downfall. Architects don’t usually have to think about stitching or thread quality, but improper sealing techniques are a common source of repairs. Architects that insist on exceptional workmanship across the board know they are preventing future problems.
- Make sure your client understands care and maintenance procedures. Low maintenance doesn’t mean zero. Once awnings are installed it becomes your client’s responsibility to help them remain at their best.
- Architects also recommend that clients perform an annual inspection of their awnings. Weather happens, and occasionally accidents also happen. Fixing small things before they escalate into expensive repairs simply makes good sense.
- Work with an awnings professional to assure appropriate design and specs. Architects don’t have to be awnings experts, you merely need a knowledgeable working partner. They can provide autoCAD drawings and work with you to modify your awning design as needed to achieve your concept. And they can fabricate your design into finished awnings that are perfectly suitable for their location and functional role – on time and within budget.
So yes, awnings can be expensive. But they are also integral to the success of a building or business. Architects that partner with experienced awnings experts are always able to create the right tool for the job, and that is fundamental to preventing future repairs. Architects that explain to their clients how to care for their awnings over time are going the extra mile to prevent future repairs. Learn more about architectural awnings and the tips and tricks to make all the difference .