At this year’s The Buildings Show, HH Angus’ VP Operations & Director, Commercial Division, Kevin O’Neill, joined a panel with Kris Landon, Senior Director Construction, Enwave Energy Corporation, and Sean Smithson, Executive Vice President, Modern Niagara Group to share insights and strategies to improve the construction closeout process. The panel was moderated by Tom Coyle, Director, BTY Group. Here are some of Kevin’s key takeaways on construction closeout from the consulting engineering perspective:

Why construction closeout can be stressful

Closing out of a construction project is the culmination of all the hard work of the team to transfer a project to an end user. If the closeout is not completed properly, deadlines are missed, owners are upset, and costs spiral out of control. Closeout starts as soon as you begin working on a project, and it is important that you get ahead and stay ahead to avoid stress and lost profits for all involved. It is an essential component of the construction process – and can make or break an otherwise successful construction project.

How specifications help the closeout process

Specifications are as critical as constructability, schedule, and budget. It is essential that the specifications are edited and modified for each project and are read and understood by the builder and trade contractors. The specifications are written to define the scope of work, the owner’s requirements, the quality and performance of equipment, items pertaining to process and, in some instances, references to construction phasing. When it comes to construction closeout, specifications must be updated to capture the specific requirements for the project and for equipment, methods, and procedures that are to be generally followed. All of this helps to ensure a smooth closeout process. The specifications should outline:

  • Shop drawing submission protocol
  • Procedure for clarifications
  • Specific manufacturers and specialty equipment
  • Minimum testing requirements or 3rd party inspection
  • Site review by the engineer including milestone reviews

Specifically for closeout, the specifications should also provide:

  • A list of attic stock/spare parts to be turned over to the owner
  • Outline of the general and specific training requirements for owner’s personnel
  • A checklist of requirements for application for both substantial and total performance
  • General and specific warranty requirements

Energy performance or measurement and verification as a closeout deliverable

The expected or even guaranteed energy performance for new or renovated buildings is becoming more common, especially for P3 projects and projects that have received government funding. In this case, the specifications will outline target or maximum energy use or green house gas emissions and will refer to measurement and verification requirements post construction.

Obligations of the consultant or engineer in closeout

Engineers are required by local building codes to review the work performed when our drawings and specification are the basis upon which a building permit was issued. We conduct periodic reviews to ensure that the work generally conforms to the permit documentation; however, these can be augmented depending on the requirements of our service agreement with the client; for example, they may include:

  • Recording any deficiencies found
  • Reviewing reports of independent testing agencies, other 3rd parties, and installing contractors, such as fire alarm verification and sprinkler systems reports
  • Interpreting plans and specifications when requested by the client or contractor and responding to RFIs
  • Reviewing shop drawings and samples

When reviews should take place

Deficiency reviews are conducted when the work has been declared complete and are carried out on a sampling basis. The review by the engineer does not replace or supersede the reviews, deficiency lists, or punch lists developed by the contractor and sub-trades.

The engineer’s reviews can be milestone reviews, performed when areas are finished and in advance of services being concealed. We also provide reviews for occupancy as required by local codes and local inspectors, as well as providing certification for both substantial and total performance following complete application by the Contractors.

Requests for Interpretation (RFIs)

Engineers provide written clarifications when an RFI is submitted by the builder. The RFI process ensures that the intent of the specifications is clear. In the case of site issues that inevitably arise, the RFI process documents the exchange of information, and may trigger an adjustment to the contract in the form of a change order or site instruction.

The best RFIs are those that provide a possible solution to the issue at hand. These can even be submitted after the issue has been reviewed on site or discussed offline. However, RFIs for the sake of creating paperwork only distract and bog down the team.

It is important to include language defining the RFI process in your specifications. When HH Angus is acting in a sub-consultant role and providing Division 00 and 01 specifications, we must review what the prime consultant has prepared in this regard to mitigate and avoid nuisance RFIs described above.  

Role of the engineer during trade contractor execution of specifications

The obligations for the consulting engineer vary from project to project during the trade contractor execution of the specification requirements during closeout. In addition to a general review, the consultant may be asked to:

  • Participate in planning for commissioning activities and to attend commissioning meetings
  • Attend factory witness testing for major equipment
  • Attend, on a sample basis, start-up testing of equipment
  • Review test results for systems that may be turned over ahead of occupancy or substantial completion (plumbing, for example); and
  • Monitor that as-built or record drawing information is being updated.

The consulting engineer also typically reviews the following documentation:

  • O&M Manuals
  • Shop drawings and 3rd party certificates, testing or otherwise
  • Training records
  • As-built documentation
  • Warranty information and contact details
  • Commissioning reports
  • Final testing, adjusting, and balancing reports required for substantial performance
  • BIM and Modeling turnover requirements

Closing thoughts about closeout stress reduction

Planning for construction closeout starts at the beginning of the project. The basis of the processes required to ensure a smooth transition from construction to closeout are outlined in our Engineering documents. However, this is just one part of a larger operation. Effective closeout will also highly depend on the experience of the owner and the trade partner. Regular communication of our expectations throughout the project assists with ensuring that we achieve the desired outcome; however, reducing stress is only possible when all parties are aligned to this common goal.


Kevin O’Neill
VP Operations | Division Director, Commercial

Infrastructure Ontario and Niagara Health have announced the selection of EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare as the preferred proponent to design, build, finance and maintain the new South Niagara Health Hospital project. The EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare team includes:

  • Applicant Leads: EllisDon Capital Inc. & Plenary Americas LP
  • Design Team: Parkin Architects Ltd. & Adamson Associates Architects
  • Construction Team: EllisDon Corporation
  • Financial Advisor: EllisDon Capital Inc.

HH Angus is providing consulting services for mechanical engineering and conveyance systems (automated guided vehicles, autonomous mobile robots, and vertical transportation) as part of the design team. Congratulations to our Healthcare bid team on this significant win.

Located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the new hospital will be a full acute care hospital that will include a 24/7 Emergency department, diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical services. The latter will include medical, surgical, and intensive care inpatient beds. The facility will also include ambulatory services; post-acute Complex Continuing Care (CCC) Inpatient services; and Centres of Excellence specializing in stroke, complex care, geriatric/psychogeriatrics, and wellness in aging. The new facility will integrate technology that supports innovation in and delivery of high-quality healthcare. It will also be designed to achieve LEED Silver certification and is working toward being the first WELL™-certified healthcare facility in Canada.

To read more about the project, click on the link below:

South Niagara Hospital (

Our Digital Services team is heading to the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas next week to attend workshops, learn about the latest trends and network with other subject matter experts. HH Angus is a certified AWS Partner and our team includes members accredited as both Cloud Practitioners and Cloud Economics partners.

Digital Services team member, Augusto Valdivia, commented that “HH Angus is technology agnostic with respect to implementing smart buildings solutions across our clients’ infrastructure portfolio. We achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) certification to leverage cloud-based solutions to help our clients integrate disparate building systems, sensors, and assets so they can have access to real-time insights in order to make better decisions, efficiently manage daily building operations, and stay on track to meet sustainability goals.”

If you are at the conference, or if you can’t attend but would like to hear about conference highlights, you can connect with @augustovaldivia. Our team can explain how we help modernize traditional building management with data analytics and the cloud.   

Design for commercial buildings is primarily concerned with creating the most suitable environment for people-oriented spaces. Almost forty years ago, HH Angus created a specialized division for tenant work to address the fast-paced schedule of the commercial fitout sector. Our in-house designers and engineers understand the priorities and objectives of commercial clients, as well as the speed-to-market factor that is inherent in this type of work. Today, our successful relationships in this market are a result of following a few simple rules: respond quickly, provide total client support, deliver solutions with long-term value, and always keep focused on one important goal - the client's peace of mind.  

What's a Fitout?

A fitout is the customized interior design of empty building space to make it suitable for a tenant’s intended use. From office space and medical clinics to pharmaceutical and landmark locations, our scope of work often includes designing and servicing a variety of spaces such as offices, meeting rooms, food service areas, AV installations, washrooms, breakout rooms, showrooms, and specialized clinic spaces and many others. Systems to be designed may include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, audio visual, security, communications, IMIT, IoT, lighting, and life safety, as well as providing designs that meet LEED®, WELL™, Fitwel and WiredScore standards. 

Wildeboer Dellelce

The Cooperators

Sam Cabral, Associate Director and Tenant Services Leader, points to the deep experience of our team in delivering successful projects for our clients: “Our clients are highly creative in visualizing future working spaces that are often designed to provide a ‘wow’ factor for clients who visit the space and for employees who work in them.

“Our design and engineering team plays an important role in collaborating with the interior design team during the early stages of the project, where we are able to share our expertise in achieving the desired functionality and prominence of the electrical and mechanical systems. Lighting and ductwork are excellent examples of this. Lighting plays a very important role in the client’s vision and the ambiance of the space; it also contributes to occupant comfort and provides an opportunity for energy savings. Similarly, ductwork can be used as a design element in exposed areas or strategically concealed to meet the aesthetics of the space. Our team has deep experience working in a variety of office spaces and they are always prepared to provide options and solutions to successfully meet the client’s vision”.


Holt Renfrew

COVID Changed Everything

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the workplace functions.” said Andy Crosson. Andy is an Associate Director in the firm’s Angus Connect division and has a background of 25+ years in design and project management in the commercial sector. Companies must provide a safe, yet flexible environment for staff and visitors, which often means different types of spaces than before the pandemic, requiring a new workplace design strategy and significant investment in new technology and systems. Our tenant team can provide technology consulting services for desk hoteling systems, room booking system design and collaboration space AV design. 

“A successful desk hoteling and room booking system will provide a simple-to use-interface, secure integration with corporate IT platforms, and analytical information on space and room usage patterns to inform future space planning decisions.  Collaboration spaces were traditionally not designed for the hybrid meetings which have become the new normal. Our team can help with AV designs that seek to provide a comparable experience for remote attendees to that of the in-person attendees.”

HH Angus’ fitout team also assisted our clients in mitigating health concerns during the pandemic. Jimmy Ma recently joined the management team for HH Angus’ Tenant Services group and noted, “Throughout the pandemic, our mechanical tenant department has been assisting our clients with landlord upgrades. These include HVAC filtration systems and UV lighting within compartment units in commercial towers, as well as carbon dioxide sensors tied to building automation systems to control fresh air supply demand loads… all with a view to providing safer and healthier workspaces for tenants.”

Serving Clients Nationally

Our dedicated team works with interior designers, end users and contractors across Canada to achieve the end client’s vision for interior fitout and design.  We’re currently working with clients across Canada, including The Cooperators in Montreal, Markham, Guelph, and Edmonton; Novartis in Montreal; TD Bank in Ottawa; and AstraZeneca in Toronto.

Dayne Perry, based in our Vancouver office, is a Manager in HH Angus’ Commercial Division and directs many of our Tenant Services projects: "The team has a unique understanding of what it takes to deliver custom design on an accelerated schedule in order to ensure occupancy takes place as quickly as possible. With our expanding offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa, we’re able to provide trusted local services to our long-standing clients across the country, and we’re particularly excited to be seeing heightened interest from clients in exploring more sustainable solutions for their spaces.


Lexis Nexis

Sweating the Details

Jimmy Ma identified one attribute of the Tenant team that’s really appreciated by clients - a strong focus on getting the details right: “One thing that’s been proven over and over in fitout projects is the importance of always paying close attention to the specifics of the project, taking time to understand the client’s needs, and being available to address issues that inevitably arise during construction - all this goes to the purpose of avoiding stress for our clients. I think this is one of the keys to our success in this sector.”

Whether it’s multiple storeys or a single floor or office, in new or existing spaces, our designers and engineers deliver solutions and long-term value to enhance our clients’ investment.



For more information on our fitout and lighting services, or to discuss your fitout needs, please contact:

Sam Cabral, C.Tech, Principal
Associate Director, Commercial Division

Dayne Perry
Manager, Commercial Division

Andy Crosson, P.Eng.
Associate Director, Angus Connect

Jimmy Ma
Manager, Commercial Division

*Hero image - AstraZeneca fitout

Last evening, the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction recognized UHN’s Toronto Western Hospital Stack project, a vital part of the hospital’s Powerhouse Redevelopment. Congratulations to our client, UHN - the University Health Network, Milman & Associates, the structural engineering team, PCL Construction and Ellesmere Fabricators. HH Angus served as prime consultant and M&E engineers. The generator exhaust stack won in the category of Steel Works – Sculptures – Outdoor Pavillions.