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Determining Above Ceiling Space Requirements for MEP Systems

Posted by: Ruben De La Fuente on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ceiling Height Diagram

During the construction phase ductwork installation related setbacks, delays and added costs can be avoided when proper consideration is given to above ceiling coordination during the design phase. All too often architects, designers and engineers take for granted the amount of space needed above the ceiling for ductwork, lighting, fire protection and plumbing piping. However, when it comes to the reality of construction they find it’s a field coordination nightmare.

During the design phase it is critical to carefully consideration how much space is needed to route the MEP systems above the ceiling. Owners always want to maximize floor to ceiling heights, but will rarely raise the building height due to cost. The result leaves little if any space for the installation of the MEP systems. Therefore it is imperative for MEP designers and engineers to coordinate with architects during the design phase and determine space requirements for routing their systems.

Consider the following when determining above ceiling space requirements for MEP Systems:

  • Dimensions of ductwork, piping, light fixtures, flues, etc.
  • Insulation thickness (adds to all around ductwork and piping dimensions)
  • Installation clearances
  • Installation items such as brackets and hangers
  • Crossovers (ductwork, piping, lighting, sprinkler heads, etc.)
  • Structural beam/open web joist dimensions (open webs of joists can be space saver for small miscellaneous items)
  • Is a soffit possible?

Effective communication during the design phase will result in fewer change orders and avoid installation problems during construction. At QDG we assign a project leader to coordinate with project stakeholders on every job.