When you are looking over a skylight shading project for the first time, several factors have to be considered before you can put together a proposal. Measuring, designing and even installing the shading system may be straightforward once the logistics of the project are worked out.
Where will the installer stand while installing? That's the key question. Can this shade be installed from a ladder? Many difficult skylights will require two installers. Is there space for two ladders? Think about the possible weight of the shade. Will the installer(s) be able to lift the assembly, hold it in place and attach it without dropping it and endangering people and property? Many times a ladder will not work.
If the installer will need to stand on a ladder for an extended period, will need to move back and forth across a wide installation area, or if two installers are needed, then you probably will need a scaffold system. These factors need to be considered before you make your proposal because you want the customer to pay for renting these tools. If you don't plan the project properly you will end up paying for the proper equipment or have a small disaster on your hands at installation time when you discover you must have a scaffold.
Proper planning will save you money, speed the installation and send a message to your client that you know what you are doing. It's always a good idea to work closely with your installer on complex projects.
If your project requires scaffolding, start going through the necessary steps on how this scaffold will function. How high will you have to build the scaffold to position your installer at the correct location? You need to know this information to order the correct material from the supplier.
Is there sufficient floor space to assemble the scaffold and room to move it around? Who will deliver, construct, disassemble and return the scaffold? Plan on having duct tape on the site to cover the casters. They are always dirty and too rough for a finished interior surface. If you are working on a plush carpet or polished tile surface you may need to cover the work area with plywood to protect the owner's property.
NEED A LIFT?
So far we have only considered ladders and scaffold systems. Most residential projects can be handled from a ladder, but if you need to be higher than about 15 feet, consider an electric lift system. An electric Genie lift is well suited to many commercial environments. But weighing in at about 600 pounds and manually pushed about, few residential settings will accommodate such a lift. A Genie lift is a great choice on projects where you will be working above 25 feet, require repetitive lifts and have sufficient area around the machine's base to accommodate the required stability outriggers. The lift runs on batteries that are charged overnight. But you need to watch the number of lifts between charges.
You've probably seen large electric lifts that are driven by battery systems into their location and then lift several installers to lofty heights. They look like a great solution, but wait a minute. Do you realize these lifts weigh around two tons? Will they pass through the existing doorways, climb stairs? Are they so heavy they will collapse the floor? Are they small enough to enter the freight elevator? You have to carefully answer all of these questions.
Electric equipment is many times more expensive than manual towers, but if the project is large enough and the building will accommodate these machines, you should be able to justify the cost from a speed and safety stand point.
Your local equipment rental company can be a very valuable source of information about scaffolds and electric lifts. A visit to their yard is a good place to start. If you have a large project that will require some extensive equipment planning, they may send a consultant to the site to talk over the project with you.
The second part of this article will discuss some specific equipment solutions and how rented scaffolds, Genie lifts, large electric lifts and custom made platforms were used in a variety of situations.
Steve Walton is the owner of Shades Of The Future, Inc., a window coverings retailer based in Beaverton, Oregon; www.shadesofthefuture.com.