Knowledge of specific soil types and grades are an essential part of any construction project. Diverse soil types have different properties and based on the project type, certain soil grades are better suited for construction work than others. Builders use a variety of tools and techniques to assess the soil on a construction site and determine its properties, such as its bearing capacity, permeability, and compressibility. This information is then used to design the foundation of the building, which is the most critical part of any structure. The foundation must be strong enough to support the weight of the building and resist any forces that may act upon it, such as wind, water, snow, or seismic activity.

In previous posts, we’ve examined how erosion and sediment control measures go hand-in-hand with state and federal regulations on construction projects. Today, we will discuss the local soil types, why they matter, and how to properly identify these types with your next construction project in mind.

Oregon Soil Types

There are thousands of soil varieties all over the world. In Oregon, we have a specific soil type perfectly suited for wine growing, aptly named the Jory soil. The Jory soil is a reddish-colored volcanic soil that is rich in clay, iron, and other essential nutrients that provide excellent growing conditions for pinot noir grapes. In addition to the Jory soil, the state of Oregon has over 2,000 soil types that make it prime for agricultural growth.

Agriculture and winery uses are not the only industries affected by soil types. For example, in construction work, soil types and grades are essential in determining load-bearing capacity for building designations, excavation safety measures, and more.

Soil Categories and Types

There are various types of soil that include:

Most soils are a combination or mixture of clay, silt, and sand, and although its composition cannot be fully identified in the field, it still can be evaluated in a few different ways. In addition to types of soil, there are two characteristics of soil:

Cohesive soil is made up of fine particles and contains enough clay to stick to itself. The more clay in the soil, the more cohesive it is and the less likely it is to cave in.

Granular soil, on the other hand, is made up of coarse particles like sand or gravel and will not stick to itself. The less cohesive the soil, the more measures are needed to prevent a cave-in.

Soil Classifications

There are four types of soil classifications:

  • Solid Rock
  • Type A
  • Type B
  • Type C

Type A soil is the most stable for excavation, while Type C is the least stable. It’s important to note that a single utility trench, for example, may cut through more than one type of soil.

Type A

Type A soil is identified as cohesive and has a high, unconfined compressive strength, with a minimum of 1.5 tons per square foot. Examples of this type of soil include clay, silty clay, sandy clay, and clay loam. However, soil cannot be classified as type A if it has been previously disturbed or is currently fissured, has water seeping through it, or is subject to vibration from heavy traffic or pile drivers.

Type B

Type B soil is cohesive but not as well-bound as Type A soil. It is frequently cracked or disturbed and may have pieces that do not stick together well. The unconfined compressive strength of Type B soil is medium, ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 tons per square foot. Some examples of Type B soil are angular gravel, silt, and silt loam, as well as soils that are fissured or near sources of vibration but could otherwise be classified as Type A.

Type C

Type C soil is the least stable type of soil, consisting of granular soils with non-sticky particles and cohesive soils with an unconfined compressive strength of 0.5 tons per square foot or less. Examples of Type C soil include gravel and sand. Soil with water seeping through it is also classified as Type C soil, regardless of its other characteristics.

Determining Soil Types

When determining which soil type is found at the construction site, OSHA uses a measurement called “unconfined compressive strength” to classify each type of soil. This measures the amount of pressure that would cause the soil to collapse and is usually reported in tons per square foot. A competent person should complete the following tests to determine which type of soil before construction begins:

The Pencil Test

Also called the plasticity test, this is an easy way to determine how cohesive the soil is. The test is done by rolling a moist sample of soil into a thread that is about 1/8 of an inch thick and 2 inches long–to resemble a slim pencil. If the sample does not break, it is cohesive.

The Thumb Penetration Test

This can be used quickly to estimate the compressive strength of the soil sample. To test soil type, press your thumb into a fresh clump. Type A takes great effort to indent, Type B sinks to the thumbnail, and Type C sinks all the way. The results of this test may vary.

Pocket Penetrometer Test

This small piston device offers a numerical measurement, although results may vary based on soil samples. To carry out the test, insert the piston into the soil until it reaches the marked line. After that, obtain the reading from the scale indicator. Please note that if the soil has rocks or pebbles, which cannot compress, the penetrometer might produce inaccurate results.

As you can see, there are numerous tests that can be performed to determine soil types; however, results are not always 100% accurate. To ensure worker safety, OSHA suggests conducting at least two tests to determine the appropriate methods for sloping, benching, or shoring to prevent cave-ins.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, soil types and soil grades have played a significant role in the history of construction work, and they continue to be important today. By understanding the properties of the soil on a construction site, builders and contractors can ensure that their structures are safe, stable, and built to last for generations to come.

If you need an expert opinion or consultation on your new construction project, please contact us, and our dedicated team and project managers can help you build it right.

Since 1956, Perlo Construction has completed over 170,000 square feet of winery space, and we continue to partner with some of the most innovative and exceptional leaders in the wine industry to create exquisite and modern buildings that last the test of time. Our latest in-progress winery project for the Owners, Vinovate Wine Services, is no exception. Vinovate is a community-focused custom crush winery capable of producing 40,000 cases of wine annually. They purchased 66 acres of land from local owners who wished for it to be used agriculturally due to the rich volcanic and sedimentary soils and surrounding residential homes.

In this post, we will explore the symbiotic and community building relationship this winery project has become for the community of Newberg, Oregon.

Architect’s rendering of completed project.

Eco-Friendly Methods for Wine Production

Vinovate’s winery, which will be completed by Harvest 2023, has become a symbiotic project involving community, collaboration, and eco-diversity. The Owners, Rob Townsend, Pamela Turner, Bryan Weil and Scott Baldwin, came to Perlo to help bring their 24,000 square foot steel framed dream to life.

The site’s unique features presented opportunities for our team to be creative and continue the Owner’s vision of a first-class, eco-friendly project. Some of these features include the position and angle of the site–which is east-facing. This positioning provides better protection against wildfires, and the stratified volcanic and sedimentary soils beneath are perfect for growing agricultural crops—especially pinot-noir grapes.

“Wines made from grapes grown in volcanic soils can have varied and complex flavor profiles.”

The site’s sloped position also means that it doesn’t have to be irrigated. The Owners are utilizing eco-diverse methods of rainwater harvesting and processing of wastewater to reuse for onsite landscape irrigation and farm equipment cleaning. In conjunction with the eco-friendly theme, Perlo has also focused on early erosion control by planting seeds to keep the soil intact and greenery lush by the time of opening.

Why volcanic soil?
“Soils that have formed where there is a lot of activity from volcanos often have special chemical properties. They are often very rich in nutrients and hold water well because of their volcanic ash content. These soils are called Andisols, and they are often very young, and acidic depending on which type of volcano they come from.”

Symbiotic Relationship Within the Neighborhood

Our project and jobsite teams have built dedicated, trusting relationships between the Owners and surrounding neighbors. This has led to a symbiotic environment for everyone involved. Vinovate’s core focus is on building community and helping small, boutique winemakers expand their reach. Perlo Superintendent Josh Kelly knows the neighbors by name and has addressed any concerns with them every step of the way; “We’ve been keeping the roads clean and working with the neighbors on adjusting our morning hours, and where our lights are during construction so they aren’t being bothered”, a true permeation of trust seeping through.

Additionally, since the site must be upgraded to accommodate the new electrical load, three-phase power will be installed up Worden Hill Road and allow for future opportunities for more businesses to come in. This project has created the infrastructure for more growth, including for other wineries to expand their power grid – an option that was not previously available to them without significant expense.

“I’ve been working with Perlo on this winery project for almost two years now and can’t say anything but great things about the company and team of employees I’ve been working with. I’ve built multiple wineries and multiple tasting rooms during my winemaking career and this by far has been the most positive experience because of how professional Perlo is and how they are able to make these larger projects happen on tight timelines. I would highly recommend Perlo.”

Brian Weil | Owner

Overcoming the Odds

Despite many ongoing successes throughout the project, our project and job-site teams had to overcome several challenges. These included coordinating the following:

  • Expedited pre-engineered metal building design & procurement,
  • Upgrading power from single-phase to three-phase
  • New on site well water treatment, storage, and pumps,
  • New septic treatment system & leach field,
  • New process wastewater treatment system & sprinkler field,
  • Solar panel coordination with electrical gear and utility companies,
  • Wine processing equipment,
  • Sloped concrete floors and concrete retaining walls throughout,
  • Delayed permitting, pushing the project to start during extreme winter weather conditions that included snow, wind, and heavy rains.

Regardless of the challenge, Perlo prides itself on taking problems and finding solutions. As a result, we maintained schedule and completed our pours with strategic timing regarding weather conditions and careful planning. We also helped the Owners and Subcontractors navigate the electrical gear shortage with our deliberate pre-planning and scheduling process.

Final Thoughts

Perlo has built a name for itself as a top local winery construction firm. Our extensive resume in this market gives us a unique look into the scope of the work and its potential challenges before shovels hit the dirt. Each project has unique needs and design aspects; likewise, each client has different preferences and styles. At Perlo, we don’t just build for our clients; we partner with them and take as much pride in the result as they do.

Our teams know how to deliver to our clients the superior projects they envision within their budget and schedule. If you need a best-in-class commercial contractor to build your next winery project, give us a call.

The Pacific Northwest region of the United States has long been known for its natural beauty, strong technology and manufacturing sectors, and progressive values. As the region continues to grow and evolve, real estate owners and investors must adapt to changing market demands, incorporate sustainable and resilient design features, leverage new technologies, and meet the needs of changing demographics.

In this blog post, we will explore how repositioning real estate assets can help meet these challenges and position owners for success in the dynamic Pacific Northwest market.

More than 1 billion square meters of office space globally will need to be retrofitted or converted to new uses by 2050.

Shifting Market Demands: Adapting to a Hybrid Work Model

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many traditional ways of working and living, and the Pacific Northwest is no exception. The office market had hit a 30-year high of 17.3% vacancy at the end of 2022, according to CBRE. With the trend towards remote work and the rise of the hybrid work model, demand for traditional office space continued to decline. However, this does not mean that the office market will disappear entirely. As of March 2023, office occupancy has returned to about 50% of pre-pandemic levels. Real estate owners and investors must adapt to changing market demands by repositioning existing office and industrial assets to accommodate a hybrid work model.

Some options to create more flexible spaces include:

  • Incorporating flexible and adaptable spaces that can be used for co-working or collaboration. For example, a building may include conference rooms that can be easily reconfigured for different group sizes, or private offices that can be rented on a short-term basis.
  • Outdoor amenities such as green spaces or rooftop decks can provide a much-needed respite for workers who spend much of their day indoors.
  • Breathing new life into previously vacant and weathered industrial structures with new additions or tenant improvements.

There has been a myriad of discussions about converting office spaces to multi-family housing, but developers are generally finding this idea is too costly to pursue at this time. Restrictions such as building codes, large floor plans, centralized utilities and other challenges make this option untenable for most investors.

Global real estate giants like JLL see the office market remaining challenging, but with less new construction of this product and a continued, although slow, return to the office, it is not obsolete. Give the increased age of the buildings, regardless of the continued use, JLL predicts that, “more than 1 billion square meters of office space globally will need to be retrofitted or converted to new uses by 2050.”  

224 Logistics is a 1,000,000 SF facility that had been expanded and remodeled over the course of several decades. Perlo completed an entire re-roof, seismic upgrade and a variety of repairs to bring this aging building back to life for future multiple market sector tenants.

Sustainable and Resilient Design: Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change

The Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty and progressive values, but it is also seeing an increase in natural disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. Additionally, workers are demanding more eco-friendly workplaces. In order to increase the resilience of real estate assets in the face of these challenges, it is important to incorporate sustainable and resilient design features into new and existing buildings. One way to do this is by incorporating earthquake-resistant design features such as:

  • reinforced concrete or CMU walls,
  • foundation anchors, and
  • flexible framing systems.

We detailed the importance of and logistics to complete seismic upgrades in a previous article here.

Related to fire risk, defensible space around buildings, such as fire-resistant landscaping and fire breaks, can help protect buildings from wildfires. Evaluating fire resistant building materials, such as concrete, metal roofing and other details, can aid in preventing the spread of fires, as well.


Sustainability measures are important for the environment as well as workers. Measures that can be taken to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings include:

  • Utilizing green energy sources
  • Installing green roofs and rainwater harvesting systems to manage stormwater runoff and reduce the impact of floods
  • Incorporate natural lighting and greenery
  • Install smart windows
  • Utilize controls to manage mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems
  • Install Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

According to a JLL survey, ‘Up to 81 percent of workers aged 21 to 30 expect their company to follow sustainable business practices, and 70 percent of them would prefer to work for a sustainability leader’.

Leveraging New Technologies: Staying Ahead of the Curve

The Pacific Northwest is home to many leading technology companies, and as such, there is a high demand for buildings that can support the latest technologies. Real estate owners and investors who are able to incorporate these technologies into their buildings may be better positioned to attract tech tenants and stay ahead of the curve.

One way to do this is by incorporating high-speed internet connectivity, such as fiber-optic internet, into buildings. This can help attract tech tenants who require reliable and fast internet connections. Additionally, smart building systems that incorporate internet of things (IoT) technology, such as sensors and automation systems, can help improve energy efficiency and reduce operating costs.

What is the ‘Internet of Things’?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes physical objects embedded with sensors and actuators that communicate with computing systems via wired or wireless networks—allowing the physical world to be digitally monitored or even controlled. For example, automated vacuums, self-checkout counters, autonomous vehicles, etc.

Changing Demographics: Meeting the Needs of a Diverse Population

The Pacific Northwest is becoming increasingly diverse, with growing populations of immigrants and younger generations. Real estate owners and investors who are able to adapt to these changing demographics may be better positioned to capture new market opportunities.

One way to do this is by repositioning existing retail assets to meet the needs of specific cultural groups. For example, a shopping center may cater to a particular ethnic group by including stores that offer culturally-specific products or services. Multi-generational housing that allows extended families to live together may become more popular as the population ages and becomes more diverse.

Another way to meet the needs of a diverse population is by repositioning existing office assets to support co-working or collaboration among entrepreneurs and small business owners. This can help create a sense of community and support for these individuals, who may be underrepresented in the traditional business world.

Final Thoughts

Repositioning real estate assets can be a powerful strategy for real estate owners and investors in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. By adapting to changing market demands, incorporating sustainable and resilient design features, leveraging new technologies, and meeting the needs of a diverse population, owners and investors can stay ahead of the curve and position themselves for success in this dynamic market.

By repurposing assets, adding earthquake-resistant features, and integrating smart building technology, real estate owners and investors can create value for themselves and their tenants while contributing to the long-term health and vitality of the region.

Perlo is a Pacific Northwest regional commercial general contractor that specializes in both new, non-residential construction and renovations. If you are considering repositioning one of your real estate assets, please contact us today.

At Perlo, we believe in investing in our people, fostering a culture of growth and development, and take immense pride in the achievements of our team members. Recently, two employees were promoted to Perlo’s Executive Leadership Team due to their hard work and unwavering determination. Today, we share the stories of our newly promoted Vice President’s: Chris Culbertson and Thomas Quesenberry. We will showcase their experiences and demonstrate the potential for hard working individuals to combine their work with the countless personal and professional developmental opportunities Perlo provides to rise to the highest of heights.

Thomas Quesenberry

Thomas has always been excited about his work in the construction industry. He has spent years honing his craft and developing his expertise in massively diverse projects, from towering high rises to historical renovations throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Nearly six years ago, Thomas joined Perlo to focus on healthcare projects, but when the pandemic hit, everything changed. Healthcare construction came to a temporary halt, so Thomas and Perlo quickly adapted to focus on the rising wave of distribution centers and warehouses. Relying on his experience across multiple market sectors, Thomas helped identify a growing client base, expand Perlo’s reach across the region, and provide new opportunities for growth.

One of the things that Thomas loves most about Perlo is that everyone can provide input and has the opportunity to carve their own path. He feels that his ideas are valued and that he can make a meaningful contribution to the company in many ways while also having a good balance between work and personal life.

“I always want to work harder, but Perlo does a great job of establishing a balance between work and home life.”

He advises those seeking leadership positions: “Stay committed to working hard, building strong relationships, and being a trustworthy resource for clients. You should truly want to help people, because they will appreciate the support and think of you for their next project. Lastly, if you have ideas, you’ve got to speak up. To be heard you have to say something.” For Thomas, working at Perlo is a chance to build something lasting with the freedom to pursue the projects and clients of one’s own interests, allowing for a wide range of possibilities.

Chris Culbertson

Chris Culbertson’s journey with Perlo Construction is one of 18 years of dedication, hard work, and perseverance. Straight out of college, he joined Perlo Construction as a Project Manager. He started his humble beginnings with a fold-up table for a desk just outside of Owner Gayland Looney’s office.

Despite the challenge of no privacy, and having papers blown off his desk every time the door opened, Chris remained committed to his work and his goal of progressing within the company. In 2010, he took on a new role as an estimator; “I saw there was a need, so I filled it”.

Throughout the years, Chris continued to excel and collaborate with his team members, always striving to hit budgets and work quickly. Chris says he’s always had the mindset of progressing in his career but didn’t necessarily have a set timeline. His recent favorite project was working on the Amazon Salem project, which was a great success due to the team’s collaboration and focus.

“Keep pushing. It may sometimes feel like no one notices your efforts, but people do notice, and they will reward your hard work—keep at it.”

As Perlo Construction has grown and evolved, Chris remains excited about the future of the company and any challenges that lie ahead. Chris’ inspiring story is one of commitment and a willingness to adapt to change, in addition to his humble leadership. His desire to learn and grow within the company has made him an invaluable member of the Perlo Construction team.

Final Thoughts

We are proud to congratulate Chris Culbertson and Thomas Quesenberry on joining the Executive Leadership Team and are excited to see their impact on Perlo’s future success. We recognize their hand in mentoring our growing team of estimators and project managers. Their promotion will continue the company’s ongoing success and growth for years to come.

If you are interested in paving your own path here at Perlo, visit our Careers page to learn more about our current openings.

Today, we’re sitting down with Dennis Bonin, our Director of Safety at Perlo, to learn about his path into the safety side of construction. As an employee of more than 8 1/2 years, Dennis started as a Firefighter before unexpectedly landing in the world of construction safety. Thanks to his dedication and leadership, Perlo has expanded our safety program, and he has revitalized the image of construction safety in, and outside of the field.

Dennis will be retiring from Perlo in June of this year. We cannot understate how much we appreciate his time with our company, and while we are happy to see him moving on to the next chapter in his life, he will certainly be missed.

Read on to learn more about our Safety Superhero, Dennis Bonin.

What is your soon to be ending role?

I’m the Director of Safety for Perlo Construction, which means I oversee our corporate safe work practices and policies, including compliance with federal, state, and local rules and regulations related to safety in our office and on our jobsites. I manage our dedicated safety professionals who are a committed resource for our construction supervisors and crews. I coordinate and deliver safety-related training with an emphasis on making it relevant to our employees, both in the office and on the jobsites. I’m also responsible for incident/injury investigations.

How did you get into safety?

I was in the fire service as a battalion chief. My life took a turn, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I had a good friend from the fire service that had retired early from an injury and that was the safety manager for Ness & Campbell crane. He told me I should look into safety management and that I’d like it. I hesitated at first, and it took him three calls to encourage me to look into it before I did! At that time, I applied for a job with Hoffman Construction and went to work at Intel in 2010 as a Site Safety Coordinator. I worked there under some really great mentors and worked on that project for about 3 years. Then I had the opportunity to work with Dynalectric as their Site Safety Manager out at Intel.

Once the Intel project finished up, I took a new position here. It was my supervisor from Hoffman that actually recommended me to come work here. I was ready to move into more of a leadership role and this opportunity seemed to be perfect for that, as Perlo didn’t have a full-time safety manager at the time.

I was hired at Perlo in 2014 as Perlo’s Safety Manager, and now it’s been a little over 8 years.

What have you seen change in your time managing safety programs, in general?

Certainly, industry-wide there is a greater emphasis on construction safety in recent years. Not only from a total worker health perspective, but as a demand from clients to improve. There’s also more emphasis placed on organizations to have better safety scores (lower EMR, total recordable incident rates, etc). This is being driven by public and private clients, as well as insurance companies.

There’s also been a greater emphasis on credentials for safety professionals; for instance, CHST (Construction Health Safety Technician) is basically a minimum requirement now, replacing the once minimum qualifications of OSHA 10 and OSHA 30. For a lot of employers, ASP (Associated Safety Professional) and CSP (Certified Safety Professional) are desired. The CSP is basically the highest-ranking certification for safety out there. There’s a lot more emphasis from our clients as well on having safety professionals be credentialled at the higher levels.

Perlo has all of our Field Safety Coordinators working on obtaining their CHST.

What have you seen change with Perlo’s safety program in your time here?

A lot! To begin with, it was pretty informal prior to my role beginning. One individual took care of the administrative aspects of safety for Perlo, so we had a safety manual and the basic reports covered. Our lead field superintendent managed the field component for investigations and compliance, but there wasn’t an audit system at all. When I was hired, we had about 20 superintendents and now we have 45+. So, our workforce has grown substantially. And our safety team went from just me to now having 6 safety professionals. As far as other changes, there’s more formality now with compliance. For example, we have a safety management software that helps us audit and track safety scores and training records, including our incident/injury reports, etc.

When I got here, there was a safety incentive program, but it has since been expanded extensively. We used to give out just high-viz men’s shirts as awards, but now we have tons of swag, and even do lunches for 100% safety audit scores. All of our foremen, superintendents, project engineers, project managers, and executive team members are OSHA-30 certified as well. Safety overview audits are now being done by all project engineers, managers and executive teams on a monthly basis. All of this has basically led to more accountability for safety both in the field and in the office.

Safety training has also greatly improved overall. We have a much bigger awareness and understanding as a company about how important it is. We also created a safety committee in the last few years to make sure we have involvement from a wide variety of field members.

What are you most proud of with regards to your career in safety?

The relationships that I’ve built with our employees. They see the Safety Department more as a resource and not just as the ‘bad cop’ for safety-related topics. I have a lot of discussions with employees that are outside of work topics. It’s cool to be a resource and mentor that’s available no matter what the concern or crisis is. For me, that’s really rewarding, and I try to instill in our safety coordinators that you need to build those relationships first, then you can use those to help motivate workers to enact safe work practices.

Why do you think it’s so hard for people to think about working safely?

I think construction in general is a “Type A” industry, and there is still a taboo associated with working safely. People still want to be ‘tough’. There’s also a huge emphasis on production over safety. I’m really proud that our culture is changing in that regard, but the industry still has a lot of people that value production over safety and don’t realize that you can still prioritize both. The reality is that you can still have a productive jobsite that is also safe. A safe, clean site leads to efficient production, less off-work time, higher morale, etc.

You want people to appreciate what they’re working for, and it’s not necessarily what they have at work, but it’s what they have at home.

How do you try to motivate people to work safely? 

You want people to appreciate what they’re working for, and it’s not necessarily what they have at work, but it’s what they have at home. So, I use that to help motivate others. If I know people have children, hobbies, or whatever motivates them at home– it’s important for you to work safely so you can enjoy what you do outside of work, too. So, whether it’s a hobby or family, stay safe to continue doing things that bring you joy when you’re not here at work. That’s what I want people to understand.

When I first started with Perlo, I put myself in the position to be a part of the crew. I’ve done some actual labor on a tilt, for instance, and the field crews appreciated that I was willing to do the hard work, but it also helped me understand their work. It also gave me the opportunity to ask people how we could do these tasks more safely. They were much more willing to talk to me about these things after that.

What challenges do you see for our industry with regards to safe work practices?

Definitely, tighter project budgets. It makes it hard for people to prioritize safety when cost is a huge driver. Also, increasing regulations from the federal and state governments. For example, there are new heat related policies that require work to stop in certain conditions. The government has to take action because accidents and deaths have occurred from these, and Federal OSHA has to paint with a broad brush. So, regulations are getting tighter and tighter, and this isn’t a bad thing, but it is a challenge. We now have to look at full personal health, so noise exposure, chemical exposure, wildfire smoke, silica, etc. We now have to take action at much lower thresholds than before, and this does affect production, for sure. Suppose your options are to stop work or put everyone in a respirator during wildfires. In that case, the work is going to slow down significantly.

The other real challenge is that today’s workers coming into the workforce have much less exposure to physical labor than in past generations. You don’t necessarily have people that have worked in a rural environment with their hands. Instead, they’re used to being indoors on gaming systems or things like that. Then they’re entering a very physically demanding job without the knowledge and stamina built-up from the get-go.

I tell people at orientation that construction is hard work. If you aren’t tired and sore at the end of the day, you’re probably not working hard enough. Sore muscles aren’t an injury, and you need to know the difference. And people can build up that stamina, but it’s going to take a while. Technology is great, but we have so much of it now that people are generally less prepared to enter a labor-intensive trade like construction.

What is the biggest ‘lesson learned’ you’ve had in your career? 

I don’t know if it’s a lesson, but it’s a reality that you never can know everything about construction safety. It’s always evolving, especially as a General Contractor; we work with so many subcontractors that have new practices we can learn from. There are always new processes, policies, and practices. You can never know it all. It changes all the time.

What advice would you give to people thinking about safety as a career?

Be patient. Be consistent. Manage the risk, not the policy. Policies are black and white, but risk is not. So, I say think about the risk and manage the risk. I tell superintendents that all the time. I have found this to be a very rewarding career – it’s neat to be a resource for the majority of our team members. We developed good long term relationships, so that you’re accepted as a resource and not a threat. It’s fun to see someone I brought through orientation as an apprentice that’s grown into a superintendent role. It’s neat to see.

You have to care about people both in and out of work, or you won’t be successful in this role. It’s not sustainable to just be a big hammer all the time. Because then if you visit the jobsite, all work stops. I want to be a resource, not a rule enforcer. I think there’s a stereotype that safety professionals have to be big enforcers, but you have to seek first to understand. Ask questions and understand why someone is working the way they are before demanding change. You have to respect their efforts, get to the root of the problem, and then suggest changes that help them be safe.

What will you miss most about your work here?

The people, most definitely. Those relationships.

What are you looking forward to in retirement?

I’m really looking forward to having more time freedom. I think it will be nice to also not have to carry two phones and be worried about what phone call you might get. Safety is 24/7 job, and I’ve always looked at it as my responsibility to be available when the phone rings. I do get those calls during off hours or weekends, and that can wear on you. You can’t really step away entirely, and that’s a lot of my own ‘fault’ because I’m passionate about what I do and hold myself accountable to be available.

What do you want to share as parting words with us?

I look back at my time here with Perlo, and it’s a really special workplace. There is such an investment made to keep workers connected and truly make our workplace a fun place to be, which is engaging and social. Yes, we work hard, but there are a lot of rewards for doing that. To have an organization that makes so much effort to make people feel welcome and be social so that they’re heard and have an opportunity to participate both in and outside of work activities. That’s really what makes Perlo special–and I’m going to miss it.

Final Thoughts

We want to thank Dennis for taking the time to not only share his work and experience at Perlo, but to reflect on the faithful 8 ½ years of service that he has dedicated much of his time to. Dennis will be retiring in June, and his leadership and legacy will very much be missed.

If you’re interested in a career in construction, take a look at our Careers page for more information!

Construction in areas of restricted airspace is a complex and highly regulated process that requires significant planning and coordination to ensure safety and compliance. In this blog post, we will discuss the challenges and regulations associated with construction in restricted airspace areas, as well as some best practices for ensuring the successful completion of construction projects.

What is Restricted Airspace?

Restricted airspace is a designated area where the flight of aircraft is either prohibited or restricted due to safety or security concerns. These areas can include military airspace, national parks, wildlife refuges, and other sensitive areas where aircraft operations may pose a risk to public safety or national security. In the United States, restricted airspace is designated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is typically marked on aviation charts and maps.

Challenges of Construction in Restricted Airspace

Construction in these areas poses unique challenges compared to projects in unrestricted airspace. Some of these challenges include:

Compliance with FAA regulations

The FAA has strict regulations for construction projects, including requirements for obtaining special authorizations, submitting detailed construction plans, and adhering to specific safety protocols.

Coordination with aviation authorities

Construction projects in restricted airspace must coordinate with local aviation authorities to ensure that aircraft can safely navigate around the construction site.

Safety considerations

Construction in these areas can pose safety risks to workers and the public due to the proximity of aircraft.

Environmental considerations

Restricted airspace areas often include sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats that must be protected during construction. In these instances, special environmental protections may be required.

Construction projects within restricted airspace must comply with FAA regulations to ensure safe and legal operation.

Regulations for Construction in Restricted Airspace

The FAA has established strict regulations to ensure safe and legal operation. These regulations include:

Special Authorizations

Any construction project in restricted airspace must obtain special authorizations from the FAA before beginning work. These authorizations may include a Certificate of Authorization (COA), a Letter of Agreement (LOA), or other approvals depending on the specific requirements of the project. Importantly, general contractors must ensure that these approvals are completed, as the local jurisdictions and the FAA may not be proactive about these efforts.

Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)

The FAA requires that construction projects in restricted airspace provide notice to airmen (NOTAM) of any temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) that may affect aircraft operations. This allows pilots to plan their flights around the construction site and avoid potential hazards.

Safety Protocols

Construction projects in these areas must adhere to specific safety protocols to ensure the safety of workers and airspace users. These protocols may include establishing exclusion zones around the construction site, using specialized equipment that is designed to minimize interference with airspace operations, and implementing safety protocols for workers and equipment.

Environmental Protection

Construction projects in restricted airspace must comply with environmental protection regulations to ensure that sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats are protected. This may include monitoring and mitigation measures to minimize disturbances to wildlife, or restrictions on construction activities during certain times of the year.

At a recent project in Burlington, Washington, our team members installed bird mitigation with Hexprotect in the swale on our site. This high-density polyethylene product floats on the top of the water so that birds avoid landing in it – or, more troubling – taking off from the water and disrupting air traffic.

Best Practices for Construction in Restricted Airspace

To ensure successful completion of construction projects in restricted airspace, it is important to follow best practices that have been developed based on years of experience.

Some of these best practices include:

1. Early Planning and Coordination

The planning and coordination of the project with the aviation authorities should begin as early as possible in the project planning process. This allows for a thorough understanding of the specific requirements and regulations that must be followed and ensures that all necessary authorizations and approvals are obtained in a timely manner. The first step in a given project that may be impact airspace includes the completion of an aeronautical study to review impacts to flight patterns, either temporary or permanent. Documentation should be kept onsite during construction. Planning should also be inclusive of the project team members, including crane operators, who may need to adjust their strategies for material placement. 

2. Communication with Aviation Authorities

To ensure that the construction project can be safely completed without affecting airspace operations, effective communication with aviation authorities is essential. During the construction process, this will include providing timely notice of temporary flight restrictions, coordinating with air traffic control, and establishing clear communication channels for any issues that may arise.

3. Safety Protocols

The establishment and implementation of safety protocols is critical for ensuring the safety of workers and users of the airspace. Among these steps are the use of specialized equipment designed to minimize interference with airspace operations, the establishment of exclusion zones around the construction site, and the implementation of safety protocols for workers and equipment.

4. Environmental Protection

In order to protect sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats, construction projects in restricted airspace must comply with environmental protection regulations. For example, monitoring and mitigation measures to minimize disturbances to wildlife may be implemented, or construction activities may be restricted during certain seasons.

5. Experienced and Qualified Team

Construction projects in restricted airspace require a team with specialized knowledge and experience. This includes personnel who are familiar with FAA regulations, aviation safety protocols, and environmental protection regulations. It is also important to work with contractors who have experience completing similar projects in restricted airspace.

Final Thoughts

Construction in restricted airspace areas requires significant planning, coordination, and compliance with FAA regulations to ensure safety and legal operation. Effective communication with aviation authorities, establishment of safety protocols, and compliance with environmental protection regulations are all critical for successful completion of construction projects in restricted airspace. By following best practices and working with an experienced and qualified team, construction projects in restricted airspace can be safely and successfully completed.

If you have a project near restricted airspace, contact our teams today for assistance.

Refrigeration is an essential aspect of food processing, allowing food to be stored safely and preserved for longer periods of time. Refrigeration systems are used in a variety of food processing applications, including meat and poultry, dairy, and fruit and vegetable processing. Designing and constructing an effective refrigeration system for food processing projects requires careful consideration of several critical elements. In today’s article, we will discuss each of these elements in detail and explore how they contribute to an efficient and effective refrigeration system.

1. The Heart of Refrigeration Systems: Compressors

The compressor is the heart of the refrigeration system, responsible for compressing the refrigerant gas and circulating it throughout the system. The compressor is typically located outside the refrigerated space, and its primary function is to increase the pressure and temperature of the refrigerant gas.

The compressor can be driven by an electric motor, gas engine, or steam turbine, depending on the specific requirements of the application. The type will depend on factors such as:

  • The size of the refrigeration system
  • The refrigerant used
  • The desired operating temperature range

2. Critical Support: The Condenser

The condenser is responsible for removing the heat from the refrigerant gas and turning it into a high-pressure liquid, which is better suited for removing heat from the refrigerated space. The condenser typically consists of a series of coils or tubes that are cooled by air or water. As the refrigerant gas passes through the condenser, it gives up its heat to the surrounding environment and condenses into a high-pressure liquid.

The choice of condenser type will depend on factors such as the size of the refrigeration system, the type of refrigerant used, and the available cooling source. For example, air-cooled condensers are typically used in smaller refrigeration systems, while water-cooled condensers are used in larger systems where a continuous source of cooling water is available. If the condenser is not working correctly, the refrigerant will not be able to give up enough heat, resulting in inadequate cooling of the refrigerated space and potentially compromising the safety and quality of the stored food products.

3. Maximizing Efficiency: The Evaporator

The evaporator is responsible for absorbing heat from the food or product being refrigerated and turning the liquid refrigerant back into a gas and typically consists of a series of coils or tubes that are located inside the refrigerated space.

As the liquid refrigerant passes through the evaporator, it absorbs heat from the surrounding environment and evaporates into a gas. By evaporating the refrigerant into a low-pressure, low-temperature gas, the evaporator reduces the workload on the compressor, which means that the system uses less energy and is more cost-effective to operate.

A properly functioning evaporator is needed, otherwise the refrigeration system wouldn’t be able to properly remove heat from the space. This could result in compromised safety and food quality.

4. The Refrigerant Flow Regulator: The Expansion Valve

The expansion valve is responsible for regulating the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator, which controls the amount of cooling that is delivered to the food or product. The expansion valve typically consists of a small, metering device that regulates the flow of liquid refrigerant into the evaporator. In larger systems where precise control over the refrigerant flow is required, electronic expansion valves are needed. The more common types of expansion valves include thermostatic expansion valves, which are used in small to medium-sized refrigeration systems.

5. The Lifeblood of the System: Refrigerant

In larger systems where precise control over the refrigerant flow is required, electronic expansion valves are needed. The more common types of expansion valves include thermostatic expansion valves, which are used in small to medium-sized refrigeration systems. Common refrigerants used in food processing applications include:

  • Ammonia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

Ammonia is a highly efficient refrigerant, widely used in large-scale food processing applications due to its excellent heat transfer properties. However, it is also highly toxic, which requires careful handling and monitoring to prevent leaks and ensure worker safety.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an environmentally friendly refrigerant that has gained popularity in recent years due to its low global warming potential (GWP). It is used in a variety of food processing applications, including refrigeration of meat and poultry, and as a cooling agent in freezing tunnels.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a group of synthetic refrigerants widely used in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning systems. However, due to their high GWP, they are being phased out in many countries in favor of more environmentally friendly alternatives such as natural refrigerants like CO2 and ammonia.

6. Preventing Heat Transfer: The Insulation

Insulation is critical for preventing heat transfer between the refrigerated space and the outside environment. Choosing the appropriate insulation will depend on factors including the desired operating temperature range, the size of the system, and the amount of space available for insulation. Two common types of insulation used in food processing applications include rigid foam insulation, which provides high thermal resistance and is easy to install, and spray foam insulation, which is more expensive but provides superior insulation performance and better air sealing.

Importantly, insulation must be considered for the entire space, including the refrigeration equipment, the walls, ceilings, and floor. Concrete slabs for instance, must have insulation below with heating of the slab to prevent the concrete from freezing and ‘heaving’ – where the slab expands uncontrollably and loses shape.

7. The Brains of the Operation: Control Systems

Control systems are essential for maintaining the desired temperature and humidity levels within the refrigerated space and predictably consists of a thermostat or temperature sensor that monitors the temperature in the refrigerated space, as well as a controller that adjusts the operation to maintain the desired temperature.

The choice of control system will depend on factors such as:

  • The desired level of control and automation
  • The volume of the refrigeration system
  • The available budget

There are common types of control systems that include simple thermostats to more sophisticated digital controllers that can be programmed to adjust refrigeration system operations based on time of day or product load.

8. Even Distribution: Air Circulation

Proper air circulation is necessary to ensure that the refrigerated air is distributed evenly throughout the space. The choice of air circulation system will depend on the capacity and layout of the refrigerated space and the level of control needed.
Common types of air circulation systems used in food processing applications include:

  • Natural convection- this relies on the natural movement of air to circulate refrigerated air
  • Forced-air systems- this uses fans to distribute refrigerated air more evenly throughout the space

9. Proper Waste Removal: Drainage

Proper drainage is essential to prevent moisture buildup within the refrigerated space. Improperly dealt with, moisture build-up can lead to mold and other issues. Types of drainage systems used in food processing applications include gravity drainage, which relies on the natural flow of water to drain moisture away from the refrigerated space, and pump-assisted drainage, which uses a pump to remove moisture from the space more quickly and efficiently.

10. Shining a Light on the Matter

Adequate lighting is necessary to facilitate operations, as well as inspection and maintenance activities within the refrigerated space. The choice of lighting will depend on various factors that include the overall volume and design of the space and available budget. Common types of lighting used in food processing applications include:

  • Fluorescent lighting, which provides bright, uniform lighting at a low cost
  • LED lighting, which is more energy-efficient and has a longer lifespan than fluorescent lighting

Lighting controls are often installed with occupancy sensors so that lights will turn on and off automatically, conserving energy while still providing occupants with the necessary lighting to navigate the area.

Considering All Elements

Designing and constructing an effective refrigeration system for food processing projects requires careful consideration of the above elements. Each of these plays a vital role in ensuring that the refrigeration system is reliable, efficient, and effective
in maintaining the required temperature and humidity levels for food safety and quality. To adequately deliver these spaces, expertise is required in several fields, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and refrigeration technology. It is essential to work with experienced professionals who understand the unique challenges and requirements of food processing applications to ensure that the refrigeration system is designed and constructed to meet the specific needs of the products.

Regular maintenance and inspection are necessary to identify and address issues before they become major problems, and proper repair and replacement of components are essential to ensure that the refrigeration system operates at peak performance. Several other factors should be considered when designing and constructing a refrigeration system for food processing projects, including:

  • Safety considerations, such as proper ventilation and leak prevention
  • Environmental concerns, such as utilizing environmentally friendly refrigerants, efficient insulation and lighting systems, as well as controls

Final Thoughts

Overall, the design and construction of an effective refrigeration system for food processing projects requires a comprehensive understanding of the various critical elements and factors that contribute to its performance and reliability. Working with experienced professionals and incorporating best practices and industry standards can help ensure that the refrigeration system meets the unique needs and challenges of food processing applications and delivers safe, high-quality, and cost-effective refrigeration solutions.

Whenever we win a project at Perlo, we follow the ancient tradition of ringing a bell to celebrate. It’s an opportunity for our employees to come together to hear the story of how we achieved the work, who will be the project team, and more. Bell ringing has a long and storied history that dates back centuries. It’s a tradition that has endured through the ages and has been embraced by cultures worldwide. Bell ringing has been essential in many societies, including the ancient Greeks, English and Americans.  

Today we will explore the history behind this ancient tradition and why we use bell ringing to celebrate our wins here at Perlo Construction.  

The Origins of Bell Ringing

The origins of bell ringing are somewhat murky, with various theories and legends surrounding its inception. One popular theory is that it originated in ancient China, where large bronze bells were used for timekeeping and as a means of signaling important events. It is believed that this practice spread to other parts of Asia and eventually made its way to Europe. Bells were also used in ancient Greece and Rome to signal the start of games and other events. In addition, some cultures once believed the sound of the bell could ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

During the Middle Ages, bell ringing took on a new significance. Bells were used to make announcements and mark significant events such as weddings and funerals. Bells were also used to signal the time of day and to warn of impending danger, such as fires and attacks by enemy forces. In older maritime days, ship bells would be struck to mark a successful passage or used to sound off as an emergency alarm.

Farmers also historically used the cowbell to help identify their pastoral animals. They were placed around the animal’s neck, and when it was time to herd them in the evenings, the sound made it easier for them to be found by their owners. 

In England, bell ringing became highly developed during the 17th and 18th centuries. Towers were built with multiple bells that could be rung in complex patterns, creating a beautiful and intricate sound. As a result, bell ringing became a popular pastime, with groups of people gathering to practice and perform together. 

Bell ringing also played a significant role in the history of the American Revolution. In 1775, Paul Revere famously rode through the streets of Boston, warning of the arrival of British troops. He used bells to signal his message, and the echoes of the bells were heard throughout the city. This event is now known as the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere“, an important moment in American history. 

Modernized Uses of the Bell

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, bell ringing continued to evolve and change. Different techniques were developed, and bells were used in new and innovative ways. For example, in the United States, bells were used to signal the arrival of trains and to announce the opening and closing of stock markets. Bells were also used to mark powerful events, such as the end of World War II. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway takes its title from a line in meditation by John Donne about the tolling of bells for the dead.

Once the cash register was invented in the late 19th century, bells became commonplace whenever a sale was made. The register drawer would pop open, and a bell would make the now iconic “cha-ching” sound, thus becoming synonymous with making a sale. As a result, the National Cash Register Company created a film campaign during the 1950’s titled The Bell Heard Round the World to promote their company across the United States.

Bell Ringing at Perlo 

Ringing a bell in celebrations and events has continued today. Each time we win a project, our VP of Preconstruction Services, Chris McLaughlin, will ring the Perlo bell to celebrate our achievements. On his desk sits a small piece of history that has been in his family for at least one hundred years. His family used this small bell on their farm, where their sheep wore it as they roamed across 2000 acres. For those not in the office during this celebration, a virtual ‘bell ringing’ email is dispersed company-wide to share project details and allow all to see what work is coming down the line.  

This celebration of winning is an important piece of our company culture. Collaborative in nature, no project is ever won by a single person. Instead, each is won based on a variety of factors and the efforts of many. In fact, it can sometimes take years for a project to progress from concept to reality. It makes sense, then, that we gather to celebrate when a project is awarded to us and ready to move forward. Each celebration is an opportunity to acknowledge the win, the participants in achieving it, and to anticipate the work ahead.  

Final Thoughts

If you’d like to be a part of our award-winning bell-ringing team, visit our careers page, or contact us with your next commercial construction project you want the winning team to build right.  

Perlo is well known for its extensive, industrial, ground-up construction portfolio. A drive around the Portland Metro area’s commercial districts will surely include buildings completed by our teams. In fact, a recent review of the City of Canby demonstrated that Perlo has completed most of their tilt-up buildings, and a glance at the Wilsonville area shows much the same. It is less well-known that Perlo completes commercial construction in a wide variety of market sectors outside of the industrial space, including:

Approximately 30% of our project portfolio each year is made up of projects outside of the industrial market sector.

Additionally, roughly $25 million of our annual revenue to date is completed by our elite Special Projects Group, which is a dedicated cohort of project managers and superintendents that work exclusively on small repairs, renovations, tenant improvements and sustaining projects in every market sector we serve. Today, we will explore the history and growth of our talented Special Projects Group (SPG). They serve an important role in our organization, and they are often the backbone of developing new relationships, maintaining existing ones, and providing excellent customer service to our clients for the lifetime of their buildings. 

The Inspiration for SPG

The Special Projects Group was formally established in 2009 when Perlo’s ownership saw a need to better serve our customers between large building projects. Perlo would be commonly called out to expand a building or build an additional structure for a past client and, while touring their facility, discover that they’d hired a smaller contractor to complete minor renovations in between. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to use Perlo; it was that they didn’t think we would be interested in such small work. Unfortunately, the quality these owners received for these smaller projects was often poor. 

Thus, an idea was born: a dedicated group of project managers and superintendents that worked specifically on smaller projects, including repairs, renovations, tenant improvements and sustaining projects. 

Small Beginnings for SPG  

The ideation for this group was given to a two-person team in 2009. Armed with company resources and empowered to establish the department’s structure and flow, the two created a framework and performed small projects to the tune of $250,000 in revenue in the first year. Projects within the department included all kinds of small repairs, such as: 

  • Concrete slab repairs
  • Service repairs – bollards, door replacements, maintenance
  • Small wall repairs
  • Turning two offices into a single conference room
  • Tenant improvements
  • Floor restorations
  • Emergency repairs – vehicle crashes, roof collapses, storm damage

While the revenue number was small, the need for Perlo’s services was evident. Clients were delighted to find they could call on their trusted general contractor for both large and small project needs.

A Trajectory of Growth  

Following SPG’s creation in 2009, the group continued to grow and expand their volume, nearly doubling revenues each consecutive year. As the group grew, their processes refined, and the department structure became more precise, efficient, and highly effective. By 2018, the department had grown to nearly $ 17 million in annual revenue, with four full-time project managers and six field superintendents regularly completing these small construction projects for both current and new clients. Projects also continued to grow in technicality and complexity, including: 

Tuality Healthcare OR Remodel >

Re-construction of two operating rooms in an occupied medical facility to ensure code compliance and more modern working environment for surgery team.

Mahlum Architect TI >

Mahlum’s new, wide open floorplan is within the Custom Blocks Development, a location with built-in character from an old metal stamping shop.

The Duck Store Washington Square >

Tenant improvement of a 2, 300 SF retail shop for the famous Oregon “Ducks” team that doubled the size of the sales floor.

With a 24/7 emergency line, customers could call anytime for regular work, including emergency repairs. Some of these projects have included: 

VLMK Engineering + Design Repair and Renovation >

After a massive oak tree fell through the roof, our SPG team came in to repair and reconstruct this office building. The job entailed replacing all of the steel and Tectum tile roof structure as well as repairing the damaged concrete girders.

Les Schwab Sandy Boulevard

Existing building leaks combined with the snowstorm compromised the back wall of the alignment bay, spurring our teams to install shoring for temporary safety. A new replacement structure was designed and installed to replace the facility’s roof joists and rear wall.

Graybar Roof Collapse

This project consisted of the replacement of approximately 5,000 SF of the roof structure and associated lighting and roofing due to collapse under the snow load. Additionally, one (1) column and footing were found to have settled significantly under the weight of the snow.

In addition to these larger emergencies, SPG regularly completes repairs on existing spaces from vehicular collisions, damaged truck docks, forklift collisions at interior columns, and even a couple of building repairs due to trains colliding with exterior walls! For example, during the extreme 2021 winter storm, we promptly responded to six roof collapse emergencies and quickly repaired the majority.

Today’s Special Projects Group  

Currently, the team still services our existing and new clients for ongoing maintenance, repairs, and upgrades for all their project needs. In addition to service items, SPG is focused on bringing awareness of their experience in the Tenant Improvement market sectors, completing projects from small carpet and paint renovations to multi-million dollar build-outs. 

Our tenant improvement focus has received the most growth over the years, both in revenue and processes. The cohesive team works closely to coordinate labor and subcontractors for projects that are often fast-paced and mission-critical for our clients.  

Our talented and dynamic SPG stands out amongst the crowd for their ability to respond quickly and efficiently. Our superintendents are empowered to self-perform a multitude of work. Overall, our team holds exceptional awareness of tenant improvement skillsets and experience. 

Final Thoughts

Perlo’s Special Projects Group is available any time for repairs, renovations, tenant improvements and sustaining work. If you need these types of repairs, you can call us anytime at 503.624.2090 or email to get connected today.   

Construction sites can be dangerous places, and the importance of creating safe jobsites cannot be overstated. Despite this fact, some people resist efforts to enhance safety on construction sites the world over. In the United States, significant efforts have been made to reduce injuries and deaths in the workplace, but there is still more work to be done. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 1,008 worker deaths on construction sites in 2020 alone. This accounts for 1 in 5 workplace deaths within this country.

In addition to fatalities, 1.1% of construction workers suffer an injury serious enough to result in missing days at work, and workers ages 25 – 34 were the most likely to sustain an injury on the job. The statistics for injuries and death are sobering. And yet, there is significant resistance to embracing efforts to increase safety. In this blog post, we will explore some of the reasons why this resistance occurs.

5 Reasons Why Increasing Safety Isn’t Prioritized

1. The Investment

One of the most common reasons for resistance to safe jobsites is cost. Implementing safety measures and equipment can be expensive, and some companies may be unwilling to invest the money required. This is especially true for small construction firms with limited resources. Some contractors may be more focused on maximizing profits than ensuring the safety of their workers. However, it’s important to note that investing in safety measures can actually save money in the long run. When workers are injured or killed on the job, it can lead to expensive lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims. Additionally, delays in construction due to accidents can be costly.

2. The Time Required

Creating a safe jobsite can also take time, which can be seen as a hindrance to construction progress. Some contractors may feel that they need to rush to complete a project on time and that safety measures will slow them down. However, it is important to prioritize safety over speed. Rushing a project can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, which will ultimately slow down progress.

3. Lack of Education

Another reason why people resist efforts to create safe jobsites is a lack of education. Some workers and contractors may not be aware of the hazards present on a construction site and the steps that can be taken to mitigate them. This can lead to a false sense of security and a lack of action to ensure safety. Providing education and training can help to alleviate this issue.

4. Lack of Enforcement

Even when safety measures are put in place, they may not be enforced properly. This can occur when there is a lack of oversight or accountability. Some contractors may choose to overlook safety violations in order to keep the project moving forward. Additionally, some workers may not follow safety protocols if they do not see their coworkers doing so. Proper enforcement and accountability are essential for creating a culture of safety on a construction site.

5. Resistance to Change

Finally, resistance to safe jobsites may occur simply because people are resistant to change. Some workers and contractors may be used to working in a certain way and may be resistant to implementing new safety measures. This can be especially true for seasoned workers who have been in the industry for a long time. It is important to provide education and training to help workers understand the importance of safety measures, and to address any concerns they may have about implementing new protocols.

Overcoming Resistance to Increasing Safety on Jobsites

Some possible solutions to overcome the resistance to safe jobsites in construction are:

Our Safety team selects one jobsite every month that had 100% safety rating for a sponsored lunch and company recognition.
Collaboration Within the Industry

Contractors, workers, and safety professionals should work collaboratively to create a safe working environment. This can be achieved by regularly holding safety meetings, identifying potential hazards, and brainstorming ways to mitigate those hazards.

Incentives to Workers

Providing incentives to workers and contractors who follow safety protocols can be an effective way to encourage compliance. Incentives could include bonuses, recognition, or other rewards.

Education and Training

As mentioned earlier, a lack of education and training is a common reason for resistance to safe jobsites. Providing regular safety education and training to workers and contractors can help them understand the importance of safety measures and the risks associated with not following them.


Proper enforcement and accountability are essential for creating a culture of safety on a construction site. This can include holding workers and contractors accountable for safety violations, implementing consequences for non-compliance, and ensuring that safety protocols are being followed at all times.


The use of technology can also play a role in creating safe jobsites. For example, the use of sensors, drones, and other monitoring devices can help identify potential hazards and allow for real-time monitoring of safety conditions.

Resources Available for Education and Training

There are many resources available that contractors can use to enhance their safety programs. Here are some examples:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA

OSHA is a federal agency that provides guidelines and regulations for workplace safety. They have a wealth of resources available on their website, including training materials, hazard recognition and prevention guides, and compliance assistance.

National Safety Council

The NSC is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting workplace safety. They offer a variety of resources and services, including safety training courses, safety audits, and safety program development.

American Association of Safety Professionals

The ASSP is a professional organization for safety professionals. They provide training, certification, and networking opportunities for safety professionals in the construction industry.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The ASSP is a professional organization for safety professionals. They provide training, certification, and networking opportunities for safety professionals in the construction industry.

Associated General Contractors of America

The AGC is a trade association for the construction industry. They offer a variety of resources and services, including safety training programs, safety management seminars, and safety best practices guides.

These are just a few examples of the many resources available to contractors to enhance their safety programs. By taking advantage of these resources, contractors can improve the safety of their workers and ensure the success of their projects.

Final Thoughts

Creating safe jobsites in construction is essential for the well-being of workers and the success of projects. However, resistance to these efforts can occur due to cost, time, lack of education, lack of enforcement, and resistance to change. By addressing these issues and prioritizing safety, we can create a culture of safety in the construction industry and prevent accidents and injuries.

Ultimately, creating safe jobsites in construction requires a collective effort from all parties involved. While there may be resistance to implementing safety measures, the long-term benefits of investing in safety far outweigh the short-term costs. By prioritizing safety, we can ensure that workers are protected, and that projects are completed efficiently and successfully.

Construction on the Coast of the Pacific Northwest can be a challenging endeavor due to a variety of factors, including weather, fewer qualified contractors, and distance to supplies, to name a few. However, with every challenge is opportunity.

In today’s blog post, we will explore some of the challenges that construction crews face when building on the coast and the solutions that have been developed to overcome them, as well as the opportunities that exist.

Weather-Related Challenges and Solutions in Coastal Construction

One of the biggest challenges of construction on the Pacific Northwest coast is the weather. The region is known for its rainy and windy climate, which can make it difficult to work outdoors or properly execute on elements such as concrete pouring and painting. Heavy rain can cause soil erosion, and high winds can make it dangerous to work at heights. Additionally, extreme storm events can cause significant damage to buildings and construction sites.

Astoria, located on the Northern coast of Oregon, experiences average rainfall of around 70” per year. Even during the driest month of July, Astoria still averages .8” and 8 days of rainfall. To mitigate these weather-related challenges, builders on the Pacific Northwest coast use a variety of techniques.

Evaluating the site for potential hazards, including:

  • Unstable soil
  • Steep slopes
  • Unstable or damaged trees

Mitigating these risks before starting construction work makes a big difference in the safety and efficiency of the site. Managing these hazards may include installing drainage systems to prevent soil erosion or using retaining walls to stabilize slopes. Safety practices can also include removing hazardous trees or limbs before engaging in other construction activities.

Using materials that are specifically designed to withstand the region’s climate. For example:

  • Utilize concrete in lieu of wood for exteriors.
  • Install special coatings and/or sealants to protect against moisture and other weather-related damage.
  • Ensure steel is galvanized, stainless, or otherwise protected from moisture to prevent rust from occurring.
  • Installing flood-resistant insulation; Closed-cell foam insulation and other water-resistant insulation materials help minimize moisture absorption.
  • Using marine-grade plywood, which is treated with water-resistant chemicals, making it more resistant to moisture damage.

Contractors must also utilize extensive temporary protection measures, which may include creating tented spaces, or using out-of-the-box scheduling strategies to erect shell structures prior to pouring interior slabs.

Adapting Construction Plans: Balancing Environmental Concerns with Building Needs

In addition to weather-related challenges, construction on the Pacific Northwest coast also faces unique environmental challenges. The region is home to a diverse array of plant and animal species, many of which are protected by state and federal laws. Builders must take care not to disturb these species or their habitats during construction.

To address these environmental challenges, builders may work with environmental consultants and other experts to develop plans for minimizing the impact of construction on the local ecosystem. This may involve installing erosion control measures, such as silt fences or straw wattles, to prevent soil from washing into nearby streams or wetlands. Builders may also need to modify construction plans to avoid sensitive areas or to provide alternative habitats for displaced wildlife.

Logistical Challenges and Solutions in Rural, Coastal Locations

In addition to environmental challenges, construction on the Pacific Northwest coast also faces logistical challenges. The region’s remote location and rugged terrain can make it difficult to transport materials and equipment to construction sites. This can increase costs and slow down construction schedules. These challenges will largely depend on the size and complexity of the work, as well as materials required.

To overcome these logistical challenges, builders may investigate and implement a variety of transportation methods. For extremely large materials, barges or helicopters may be used. Road transportation is the most common option for deliveries, but coordination for off-loading, road expansions and other modifications may be necessary.

Ideally, contractors work with local suppliers and trade partners to minimize transportation costs and ensure the timely delivery of materials. It’s also critical to evaluate the transportation challenges during the preconstruction process to identify alternative building methods.

Innovations in Coastal Construction: New Techniques and Technologies

Some builders are embracing the region’s unique challenges as an opportunity to innovate and develop new construction methods and techniques. For example, exploring and using modular construction techniques, which involve constructing building components off-site and then assembling them on-site. This approach can help to minimize the impact of weather-related delays and reduce transportation costs.

Other builders are using advanced materials and technologies to create buildings that are more resilient and energy-efficient. For example, some buildings on the Pacific Northwest coast are designed to be “net-zero” energy buildings, which generate as much energy as they consume over the course of a year.

Other building techniques and sustainability strategies include:

Site Selection and Planning

Choosing sites that have minimal ecological impact and avoiding areas with high erosion or flood risk. Integrating natural features such as wetlands and wildlife habitats into the design to preserve biodiversity.

Energy Efficiency

Using high-performance insulation, energy-efficient windows, and energy recovery ventilation systems to minimize heat loss and reduce energy consumption. Installing solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal systems for renewable energy generation.

Water Conservation

Employing rainwater harvesting systems, gray water recycling, and low-flow fixtures to reduce water consumption.

Minimizing Maintenance

Implementing native landscaping to minimize maintenance needs.

Green Building

Using locally-sourced, recycled, or low-impact materials to reduce the carbon footprint of construction. Examples include using reclaimed wood, recycled metal, and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and finishes.

Implementing construction waste management plans to minimize waste generation and promote recycling or reuse of materials.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Ensuring adequate ventilation and air filtration to reduce indoor air pollutants. Using low-VOC materials and finishes to minimize off-gassing and improve indoor air quality.

Constructing Resilient Buildings

Another coastal challenge is the risk of an earthquake or tsunami. The primary source comes from the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), a 600-mile-long fault line that stretches from Northern California to British Columbia, Canada. The CSZ is where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is being forced beneath the North American plate. This subduction process builds up tremendous stress over time, which can be released suddenly as large earthquakes.

Reducing these risks often starts with seismic building codes, early warning systems, tsunami evacuation routes and public education and preparedness. Oregon and Washington’s building codes both include robust measures for seismic resilience in new structures, which creates a baseline framework for seismically resilient buildings.

Additionally, passive survivability features in buildings are elements that help maintain habitable conditions during and after a disaster, even when active systems such as electricity and heating are not available. Passive survivability features can include:

Passive Solar Design

Orienting the building and designing windows, walls, and floors to maximize solar heat gain during the winter and minimize it during the summer, ensuring a comfortable indoor temperature without relying on active heating and cooling systems.

Natural Ventilation

Designing windows, doors, and vents to promote cross-ventilation and air circulation, reducing the need for mechanical ventilation and air conditioning. Using passive ventilation strategies, such as stack ventilation or strategically placed vents, to promote air circulation and manage moisture levels. In wet climates, proper ventilation is crucial to prevent condensation and maintain a healthy indoor environment.

Thermal Mass

Incorporating materials with high thermal mass, like concrete or brick, to help maintain stable indoor temperatures by absorbing and releasing heat slowly.


Designing windows and skylights to maximize natural light and reduce reliance on artificial lighting.

Rainwater Harvesting

Collecting and storing rainwater for non-potable uses, such as flushing toilets and irrigation, reducing the need for municipal water supply during emergencies.


Use high-performance insulation materials to minimize heat loss through the building envelope. Properly insulating walls, floors, and roofs helps to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and reduce heating requirements.


Seal gaps and cracks in the building envelope to prevent drafts and air infiltration. Airtight construction helps to retain heat and reduce the risk of moisture-related issues, such as mold and condensation.

Thermal Bridge-Free Construction

Minimize thermal bridges by carefully designing the building’s structural connections and using insulating materials. Thermal bridges are areas where heat is transferred more rapidly between the interior and exterior, reducing energy efficiency.

By incorporating passive building measures in new construction, structures in cold and wet climates can achieve improved energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and reduced environmental impact.

Final Thoughts

Overall, construction on the Pacific Northwest coast presents a unique set of challenges that require careful planning, collaboration, and innovation. By working together and using a variety of techniques and technologies, builders on the coast can overcome these challenges and create structures that are both durable and environmentally responsible.

Last week, we celebrated the 25th annual Women in Construction week, a time dedicated to championing women in the industry. This year’s theme, ‘Many Paths, One Mission,’ celebrated the different journeys women have taken toward the same goal: strengthening and amplifying the success of women in construction.

We’re sitting down with Meghan Looney, Director of Human Resources at Perlo, to learn about her path into construction. As an employee of more than 8 years, Meghan’s background in marketing and public relations and her passion for people led to reforming human resources operations entirely at Perlo, and reimagining a company that is now recognized as an award-winning workplace culture.

1. What is your role at Perlo?

As the Director of Human Resources, I facilitate recruiting, company policies, benefits and compensation, performance reviews, legal compliance for employment, training and development, company communications and culture, and internal events. All that said, and simply put: I like to think I work to find good people and ensure our current people are happy with their work and employment at Perlo.

2. What led you to work in Human Resources?

I never thought of a career in human resources until I got to Perlo. I started in 2014 as a marketing coordinator, and through that, I was exposed to our unique family-feel environment. I fell in love our people saw a need for a more robust human resources department when we rapidly grew, and our people needed more tools to propel forward. So I spoke up about that! The position came naturally with my experience in public relations, communications and marketing, and my extroverted personality helped! Let’s just say the rest is history!

3. What is your favorite part of working for a construction company?

There are so many things I love about working in this industry! First, I love meeting and recruiting great people and helping them find their potential at Perlo, just like how I found my niche. Second, I enjoy welcoming and setting our new employees up for success. It’s important for me to support and empower our employees to reach their greatest potential, so they can give their best selves to the company, team members and our clients. I’m equally for our people and for our company. I am so proud of our work and know wholeheartedly that our people are the reason we do it so well.

Additionally, it’s rewarding to know that I help play a vital role in constructing a project, whether new construction or tenant improvements. I enjoy being a part of something bigger and seeing how our physical work, blood, sweat and tears positively impact the lives of many people, families and communities.

4. Recruiting is a hot topic. What challenges do you see to people wanting to enter this industry?

It’s different with office and field positions. For the office, it’s the unknown. We have people who intentionally got into construction, but we have a lot of people who only knew what construction work meant once they were here. I think the wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds are a testament to the great career opportunities this field offers.

On the field side, work in the trades can be challenged by inconsistent hours. In addition, with field work being cyclical, layoffs are common. We work hard to keep our crew members busy, even if we have a slowdown. There are also challenges for individuals to find enough consistent work as an intern, requiring travel, odd hours, things like that. If you have family duties and obligations, this kind of inconsistency can be a real trial.

I see the behind the scenes and how hard we work to keep our great workers busy, and it’s sometimes different at other companies. Employment at Perlo means something different. You aren’t just a number; you don’t get lost in the shuffle. I see our leadership standing by the Perlo Way every day and it really makes our team easy to sell.

5. What are the challenges facing our industry in the near and long term?

There are many exciting opportunities, but still some challenges. The more significant one, not surprisingly, is labor shortages. As construction continues to grow and we expand into different regions due to the lack of developable land, we need to get creative with how we recruit talented professionals willing to put in the hard work required to make it in construction.

6. As a female, do you feel you face barriers in your work?

No, I don’t. In general, Perlo’s company culture would not allow for that. But I also make a conscious effort to insert myself into conversations and to have my own voice. I don’t accept that I could be treated as ‘less’ than others because of my gender, and I don’t feel like I am. I know I have value to bring here, and others respect me for that.

I don’t take my role as a woman in construction lightly. As a mother of young daughters, I want women and girls to know we have a place in construction and so much to offer this industry.

7. What do you wish more people knew about working in the construction industry?

Our industry has a wide range of jobs – there’s a place for everyone! It’s amazing the extent of backgrounds and experiences that are accepted into this industry and apply very well to the work. I had no idea what I would do for a construction company. I’ve been here 8 years and now understand how I add value, but I can see where others might not know how they initially fit into a construction company. There are so many supporting departments – safety, marketing, accounting, project support, training, IT, and warehouse. There’s something for everyone – just reach out!

8. What advice do you have for individuals wanting to enter the construction industry?

Go for it. Be confident but humble, ask questions and be willing to learn. Find what motivates you, embrace challenges, be a good teammate, stay positive, stay hungry, and let your walls down, but stay true to yourself and be the best you can be. And lastly, don’t be afraid to get out on-site and get dirty! Maybe it’s cheesy . . . but it’s all true! Know your value and bring it with you every day.

9. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your career and/or work here at Perlo?

I’ve never found a work environment or culture as we have here at Perlo. I’m so proud of our team members. We do very challenging, hard work, but we have a genuine, fun, and collaborative culture that makes the stress of the job easier and enjoyable. We carry the burden together and celebrate together, which makes the challenges exciting and worthwhile. We celebrate our achievements and learn from our mistakes. I’ve never found or seen this kind of culture elsewhere, and I’m so proud to be a part of it and grateful for it.

Final Thoughts

We’d like to thank Meghan for taking the time to share her work and experience at Perlo and in the construction industry. If you’re interested in careers in construction, take a look at our Careers page for more information! If you’d like to check out more of our Women in Construction series, visit our Newsroom page.

When it comes to the world of construction, women are vastly underrepresented. In the overall labor force, there is roughly a 50-50 split between men and women, compared to only 9% of workers in the construction trades in the United States being women, according to the National Association of Women in Construction

The lack of diversity in the construction trades is not just limited to gender. People of color are also underrepresented in the field. According to the National Association of Minority Contractors, only 6.4% of construction workers in the United States are African American, 2.6% are Asian, and 2.5% are Hispanic.

The construction trades are one of the last industries to integrate women and people of color into its workforce, even though the number of women obtaining degrees in engineering and architecture has been increasing.

Barriers Against Women Joining Construction Trades

There are many barriers that prevent women from joining the construction trades. Some of these barriers include:

1. Lack of role models

One of the biggest barriers to women joining construction trades is the lack of role models. When girls and young women don’t see other women in the industry, it is hard to envision construction as a viable career option for themselves. This lack of representation also makes it harder for women to find mentors and support networks in the industry.

2. Stereotypes

Construction is seen as a male-dominated industry, reinforcing stereotypes about women being less capable than men in physically demanding and technically skilled jobs. Stereotypes can be challenging to overcome, discourage women from pursuing careers in construction, and make them feel unwelcome in the industry.

3. Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias is a type of bias that is not necessarily intentional but can still significantly impact on women in the workplace. For example, a hiring manager might unconsciously favor male candidates for construction jobs, even if they are equally as qualified as female candidates. This bias can prevent women from being hired or advancing in their careers in the construction industry.

What is unconscious bias?
Unconscious bias refers to attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions, without us even realizing it. It occurs when our brains automatically process information based on past experiences, cultural norms, and societal messages, and can lead to unfair treatment of individuals or groups. Unconscious bias is often unintentional and can be difficult to recognize, which is why it can be so harmful in the workplace and other areas of life. However, by becoming more aware of our biases and taking steps to mitigate their impact, we can create a more fair and equitable environment for everyone.

4. Lack of family-friendly policies

The construction industry often requires long hours and irregular schedules, making it difficult for women with more traditional caregiving responsibilities to balance work and family life. The industry also lacks family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave and flexible work arrangements, making balancing work and family responsibilities even more challenging.

The lack of family-friendly policies in the construction trades can affect men as well as women. Men with caregiving responsibilities, such as those who have children or aging parents to care for, can also face challenges in balancing work and family responsibilities.

In a culture where work-life balance is not highly valued, men may feel pressure to prioritize work over family responsibilities, leading to increased stress, burnout, and potential strain on family relationships. This can be particularly difficult in an industry like construction, which often requires long hours, physically demanding work, and irregular schedules.

5. Harassment and discrimination

Unfortunately, the construction industry has a reputation for harassment and discrimination against women. According to a survey by the National Women’s Law Center, 80% of women in the construction industry reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job. This type of behavior can make women feel unsafe and unwelcome in the industry.

Efforts to Increase Diversity in Construction Trades

Despite these barriers, many efforts underway to increase diversity in the construction industry. Some of these efforts include:

1. Mentoring Programs

Mentoring programs can be a great way to support and guide women entering the construction industry. In addition, these programs can be an invaluable resource for women in the trades, breaking down barriers and helping them advance in their careers while creating a more inclusive and diverse construction industry.

There are several industry groups and organizations that have established mentorship programs for women in the trades. Here are a few examples:

National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)

NAWIC is a professional organization that advocates for the advancement of women in the construction industry. They offer mentorship programs to connect women with experienced professionals in the industry who can provide guidance and support.

Women in Construction Operations (WiOPS)

WiOPS is a non-profit organization that provides networking and professional development opportunities for women in construction operations. They offer a mentorship program that pairs women in the industry with experienced professionals for one-on-one support.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Professional Women in Building (PWB)

PWB is a council within the NAHB that supports women in the home building industry. They offer mentorship programs at both the local and national levels to connect women in the industry with mentors who can help guide them in their careers.

Women Construction Owners & Executives (WCOE)

WCOE is a national organization that advocates for women-owned businesses in the construction industry. They offer a mentorship program that pairs women business owners with experienced professionals who can offer guidance on business development and growth.

2. Role models

Having visible and successful women in leadership positions can help to break down stereotypes and encourage more women to pursue careers in construction. This can also help to create a culture that is more welcoming to women. Having women in high level positions is important for many reasons, including providing representation, leadership, and mentorship. When women see other women in positions of power and influence, it can inspire and motivate them to pursue similar roles and to see what’s possible for their own careers. This is especially important in industries like the construction trades, where women have traditionally been underrepresented.

Women in high level positions can also provide important leadership, by bringing a diversity of perspectives and experiences to the table. This can lead to better decision making, more creative problem solving, and a more inclusive workplace culture.

In addition to representation and leadership, women in high level positions can serve as mentors and role models for other women in the industry. They can share their own experiences, offer guidance and support, and help to open doors for the next generation of women in the field. This can be particularly important for women who may not have access to other mentors or role models in their immediate network.

3. Addressing unconscious bias

Training programs that address unconscious bias can help to reduce the impact of bias in hiring and promotion decisions. This can help to ensure that women are evaluated fairly based on their skills and experience, rather than gender.

4. Family-friendly policies

Offering family-friendly policies, such as flexible schedules and paid parental leave, can help to attract and retain women in the construction industry. However, these policies can also benefit all employees, regardless of gender.

In 2019, Oregon became the eighth state in the United States to pass a paid family leave law, which provides employees with up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or a family member with a serious health condition. The Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFML) allows eligible employees to take leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, as well as to care for a seriously ill family member or to address their own serious health condition. The leave is paid at a percentage of the employee’s wage, up to a maximum benefit amount.

The PFML program is funded by a payroll tax on both employees and employers. Starting in 2023, employers will be required to contribute 40% of the total payroll tax, with employees contributing the remaining 60%. The program is administered by the Oregon Employment Department, which will provide benefits to eligible employees.

Overall, the Oregon PFML law is part of a growing trend in the United States to expand access to paid family leave, recognizing the importance of supporting working families and caregivers in balancing work and family responsibilities.

5. Addressing harassment and discrimination

Addressing harassment and discrimination head-on is lawful and essential for creating a safe and welcoming environment for women and people of color. In addition, education and supplemental company-wide policies and procedures for reporting and addressing incidents add another layer of support for all people. There are several programs across the United States that are in place to reduce harassment and discrimination in the construction trades. Here are a few examples:

Stand Against Racism
A program by YWCA USA that seeks to eliminate racism and promote diversity and inclusion. The program provides resources and training to organizations to help them address issues of racism and discrimination in the workplace, including the construction industry.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Federal agency that focuses on workplace safety and health. They offer resources and training to help employers and workers prevent workplace violence, including harassment and discrimination.

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)
Non-profit organization that provides training and certification for workers in the construction industry. They offer courses on diversity and harassment prevention to help workers understand the impact of their behavior and language on others, and how to create a more inclusive and respectful workplace.

The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention
A group of industry organizations and individuals that aims to promote mental health awareness and suicide prevention in the construction industry. They provide resources and training to help workers recognize and address issues such as harassment, bullying, and discrimination, which can contribute to mental health problems.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
A federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. They offer training and resources to help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities under the law, and how to prevent and respond to harassment and discrimination.

Final Thoughts

The underrepresentation of women in construction trades is a complex issue. There are a variety of barriers that prevent women from pursuing careers in the industry. However, there are many efforts underway to increase diversity in the field, including mentoring programs, addressing unconscious bias, and implementing family-friendly policies. Addressing harassment and discrimination in the industry is essential for creating a safe and welcoming environment for women. By taking these steps, we can work towards a more diverse and inclusive construction industry that benefits everyone involved.

Continuing our Construction Terms series this week, we’re covering Requests for Information, more commonly known as RFI’s. If you missed our first article in this series, check out Construction Terms: Submittals to learn about the value and process of submittals in commercial construction.

What are RFI’s in Commercial Construction?

Requests for Information (RFI’s) are a standard communication tool used in the construction industry to request information or clarification from the project team. RFI’s can be submitted by any member of the project team, but they are most commonly used by the contractor or subcontractor.

RFI’s can help ensure that a construction project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. However, it is also important to ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately and that they do not cause unnecessary delays or expenses.

According to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), RFI’s are a vital component of the construction process, as they help ensure that documents are interpreted and implemented correctly, and that the project meets the owner’s requirements and expectations. The CMAA recommends that owners establish clear procedures for submitting and responding to RFI’s, and that they monitor RFI activity to ensure that RFI’s are being used effectively and efficiently.

The purpose of an RFI is to seek clarification or to resolve discrepancies or uncertainties in construction plans, drawings, and specifications.

Streamlining the RFI Process in Construction

To ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately for a commercial construction project, team members should take the following steps:

1. Establish Clear Communication Channels

The first step in ensuring that RFI’s are being used appropriately is to establish clear communication channels between the project team members. The team must be clear on the proper procedures for submitting and responding to RFI’s. This can help to prevent confusion and misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

2. Monitor RFI Activity

Monitor RFI activity on the project to ensure that they are being used appropriately and not causing unnecessary delays or expenses. By monitoring RFI activity, owners representatives can identify any issues or trends that may be affecting the project’s progress and take action to address them.

To track RFI’s effectively, it’s important to assign a unique identifier to each RFI. This can be a number or a code that can be used to identify the RFI throughout the construction process. By assigning a unique identifier to each, owners can easily track their status and ensure that they are being addressed in a timely manner.

Additionally, RFI’s can be tracked by type and priority to help prioritize which RFI’s need to be addressed first. This can be done using color codes or labels that help to identify which RFI’s are high priority, and which are low priority. By categorizing RFI’s, owners can ensure that the most critical RFI’s are addressed first, helping to avoid delays and additional costs.

3. Evaluate the Quality of RFI’s

Contractors should aim for high quality RFI’s, ensuring that they are clear, concise, and address the specific issues or questions that need to be resolved. This can help to minimize the number of RFI’s submitted and prevent confusion or misunderstandings. Construction teams should also ensure that RFI’s are written in a professional manner and are free of any unnecessary or irrelevant information.

4. Review and Approve RFI’s Promptly

RFI’s should be reviewed and responded to promptly to avoid delays in the construction process. Timely approval can help to ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget. It is also important that the contractor submit RFI’s in a timely manner so that decision making isn’t rushed.

5. Use Technology to Streamline the RFI Process

Project teams can use technology, such as construction project management software, to streamline the RFI process and make it more efficient. This can help to reduce the time and effort required to submit and respond to RFI’s, which can help to keep the project on track. By using technology to streamline RFI’s, owners can also reduce the likelihood of errors or omissions in the process.

6. Ensure RFI’s are Necessary

Before submitting an RFI, it is important to ensure that it is necessary. Unnecessary RFI’s can lead to additional time and costs, as well as needless interruptions to the project team. Team members should make certain that all RFI’s are needed and are addressing specific issues or questions that cannot be resolved through other means.

7. Identify Trends and Patterns in RFI’s

Team members should also identify trends and patterns in RFI’s to help identify any issues that may be impacting the project’s progress. By identifying trends and patterns, owners can take corrective action to address any underlying issues or concerns that are causing RFI’s to be submitted in the first place.

8. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Finally, it is important to communicate clearly and effectively with the project team to ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately. Owners should ensure that all communication is clear, concise, and professional, and that all team members are aware of the proper procedures for submitting and responding to RFI’s.

RFI’s are an important tool for ensuring that construction projects are completed on time and within budget. However, they can also lead to additional costs and delays if they are not managed effectively.

Final Thoughts
RFI’s are an important communication tool in commercial construction projects. To utilize them properly, project teams should:

– Establish clear communication channels,
– Monitor RFI activity,
– Evaluate the quality of RFI’s,
– Review and approve RFI’s promptly,
– Use technology to streamline the process,
– Ensure RFI’s are necessary,
– Identify trends and patterns in RFI’s,
– Communicate clearly and effectively to ensure that RFI’s are being used appropriately.

By taking the necessary steps to ensure that RFI’s are being used effectively, teams can make sure the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. If you’re ready to engage with a general contractor that has solid processes in place for managing projects, contact us today!

In recent years, the construction industry has seen significant advances in technology, from building information modeling (BIM) to drones and virtual reality (VR). These technologies are revolutionizing the way commercial construction projects are planned, designed, and executed, and are helping to improve safety, efficiency, and quality.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at some of the key technological advancements that are changing the face of commercial construction.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

BIM is an advanced 3D modeling technology that allows architects, engineers, and construction professionals to create a virtual model of a building, including its structural and mechanical systems. This model can then be used to simulate different scenarios and test the performance of the building before construction begins. BIM technology can also be used to generate detailed schedules and cost estimates, reducing the risk of delays and cost overruns.

BIM has become an essential tool for commercial construction projects, as it allows stakeholders to visualize the final product before construction even begins. This helps to identify potential design issues and allows for more efficient project planning. By using BIM technology, architects, engineers, and contractors can work together more effectively, resulting in better communication and collaboration. BIM has also proven to be a valuable tool for facilities management, as the model can be updated and used to plan maintenance and repairs.

Key Takeaways
  • Advanced 3D modeling technology for creating a virtual model of a building
  • Simulates different scenarios and tests building performance before construction begins
  • Generates detailed schedules and cost estimates

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) technology is another game-changer in the construction industry. VR headsets and software allow designers, contractors, and clients to experience a building before it is constructed, providing a more immersive experience than traditional 2D renderings. This technology can be used to simulate different design options and provide a realistic view of the finished product, allowing stakeholders to make more informed decisions.

VR technology can also be used to train workers and identify potential safety hazards. By simulating different construction scenarios, workers can learn the necessary skills and techniques in a safe and controlled environment. VR technology can also be used to identify potential safety hazards on the job site, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Key Takeaways
  • Allows designers, contractors, and clients to experience a building before it is constructed
  • Provides a more immersive experience than traditional 2D renderings
  • Can be used to simulate different design options and provide a realistic view of the finished product


Drones are becoming increasingly popular in the construction industry, as they allow for aerial inspections of building sites, reducing the need for manual inspections. Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can provide detailed 3D maps of construction sites, allowing for better monitoring of progress and identifying potential safety hazards. They can also be used to inspect hard-to-reach areas, such as roofs and facades, making it easier to identify potential issues.

Drones can also be used for site surveys, mapping, and modeling, allowing for more accurate site planning and design. In addition, drones can help to reduce the time and cost associated with traditional surveying methods, as they can cover large areas quickly and efficiently.

Key Takeaways
  • Provide aerial inspections of building sites, reducing the need for manual inspections
  • Provide detailed 3D maps of construction sites for better monitoring of progress and identifying potential safety hazards
  • Can be used for site surveys, mapping, and modeling, reducing the time and cost associated with traditional surveying methods

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an increasingly important tool in the construction industry, as it allows for more accurate project planning and risk management. AI algorithms can analyze large data sets to identify patterns and predict potential risks and delays, allowing stakeholders to make more informed decisions. AI can also be used to optimize construction schedules, reducing the risk of cost overruns and delays.

AI can also be used to monitor job site safety, as it can identify potential hazards and provide real-time alerts to workers and supervisors. By using sensors and cameras, AI can detect potential safety hazards, such as falls or collisions, and alert workers to take corrective action.

Key Takeaways
  • Analyzes large data sets to identify patterns and predict potential risks and delays
  • Optimizes construction schedules, reducing the risk of cost overruns and delays
  • Monitors job site safety, identifying potential hazards and providing real-time alerts to workers and supervisors


Robots are being used in the construction industry to perform tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans to perform. For example, robots can be used to lay bricks, pour concrete, and perform other tasks that require precision and speed. By using robots for these tasks, construction companies can increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve safety.

In addition to these benefits, robots can also be used to perform repetitive or physically demanding tasks, such as digging, grading, and demolition. This can reduce the risk of worker injuries and allow workers to focus on higher-value tasks.

Key Takeaways
  • Used for tasks that are dangerous or difficult for humans to perform, such as laying bricks, pouring concrete, and performing other tasks that require precision and speed
  • Reduces the risk of worker injuries and allows workers to focus on higher-value tasks
  • Can perform repetitive or physically demanding tasks, such as digging, grading, and demolition

Images source:

Autonomous Equipment

Autonomous equipment, such as self-driving trucks and excavators, is also becoming more common in the construction industry. These machines use sensors and cameras to navigate job sites and perform tasks without the need for human intervention. By using autonomous equipment, construction companies can reduce labor costs, improve safety, and increase productivity.

These machines can also be used to perform tasks in hazardous environments, such as mines or disaster areas, where it may be too dangerous for humans to work. Autonomous equipment can also work around the clock, increasing productivity and reducing project timelines.

Key Takeaways
  • Self-driving trucks and excavators that use sensors and cameras to navigate job sites and perform tasks without the need for human intervention
  • Reduces labor costs, improves safety, and increases productivity
  • Can perform tasks in hazardous environments, where it may be too dangerous for humans to work

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has become an essential tool for construction companies, as it allows for real-time collaboration and communication between stakeholders. By using cloud-based software, project managers, architects, engineers, and contractors can share information and data, reducing the risk of miscommunication and errors. Cloud computing can also improve project visibility, allowing stakeholders to monitor progress and identify potential issues in real-time.

In addition, cloud computing can be used to store and share project documents, such as drawings, schedules, and specifications. This can help to reduce the risk of data loss and provide a secure platform for sharing sensitive information.

Key Takeaways
  • Allows for real-time collaboration and communication between stakeholders
  • Reduces the risk of miscommunication and errors
  • Improves project visibility, allowing stakeholders to monitor progress and identify potential issues in real-time

Final Thoughts

Advances in technology are revolutionizing the commercial construction industry, allowing for more efficient and safer project planning, design, and execution. Building Information Modeling, drones, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous equipment, and cloud computing are just some of the many technological advancements that are changing the face of commercial construction.

As technology continues to evolve, it is important for construction companies to embrace these changes and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and tools. By doing so, they can improve project outcomes, reduce costs, and improve safety for workers and stakeholders.

At Perlo, our people are the secret to our success. Whether at a jobsite or in our office, you will find we have a culture that encourages open dialogue and collaboration. This dedication to the spirit of partnership is reflected throughout our company and is a major reason Perlo is consistently recognized as a top place to work in Oregon. In this article, we sit down with one of the biggest proponents of our core values and VP of Business Development, Todd Duwe.

With over 30 years in the construction industry, Todd shares his personal journey and influences, what working for Perlo means to him, and what he sees for the future in construction.

1. What is your role at Perlo?

My primary role is to bring in new construction projects through relationship building, developing strategies, and most importantly, leveraging our greatest resource…our people. Because I ran projects for over 20 years, I’m also able to engage with our project teams and clients to help bridge the gap from initial award to preconstruction.

I’m a big collaborator so project engagement, however minor, allows me to keep a pulse on the core of what our business does. It also helps keep me fulfilled.

2. How did you get started in construction?

2023 is my 30th year in the industry, so this question takes me back a bit. After graduating from Oregon State University, I joined a local architecture firm that specialized in healthcare design. While I was there, I worked up construction documents using AutoCAD, including everything from basic floor plans and building sections to specific details. After two years, I started my construction career with a local general contractor. My first project was the preconstruction and estimation of a seismic upgrade for a large hospital.

With my background in design and ability to efficiently interpret a set of documents, I was given a tremendous amount of responsibility early on. Because of this, I quickly fell in love with the industry.

3. What do you consider to be our most important “Perlo Practice” and why?

I really like Perlo Practice #1, “do what’s right.” In my mind, it is similar to the “Golden Rule” of treating others as one wants to be treated, which is a value my parents instilled in me. It can be applied to many different situations and is an overarching guiding principle that I use every day.

4. How do you see the industry evolving in the near future and what can Perlo do to adapt to these changes?

I believe future changes will revolve around managing supply chain issues, the labor force, and focusing on sustainability. Also, advancements in technology will always have an impact on construction as we’re constantly seeing innovative ways to complete and manage projects. The increased use of more environmentally friendly materials combined with building techniques, such as prefabrication and 3D printing is becoming a significant focus of the industry. We’re beginning to see how important these initiatives are to local jurisdictions and decisions that owners are making.

It takes good leadership to make the right decisions, and Perlo Construction has a leadership team that continuously reviews future trends and strategies to achieve greatness. In addition, we encourage all our people, no matter what position they’re in, to participate in making improvements to our business practices. This kind of “ground up” ingenuity is what will keep Perlo moving forward with innovative strategies and techniques for construction.

5.What is your pet peeve?

I’m a pretty easy-going guy, but if I had to choose something, it would be the lack of someone saying the two simple words: “Thank you”.  It sounds so simple and yet it is forgotten far too often. Genuine, sincere appreciation can really help drive your co-workers to greatness. I value a culture of team building, respect, and hard work, and I like to see people appreciated for those efforts.      

6. What do you like to do for fun?

My wife and I have three children ranging from a fourth grader to teenager, so we’re pretty busy with sports and school activities. When we get the chance, we like to travel and be active outdoors. Our favorite places to visit are Sunriver and Hawaii. I also love to golf.

7. What or who inspires you?

My wife inspires me. She is a registered nurse at a children’s hospital and takes care of the most critically ill kids and their families. When I think that I have had a bad day, and then listen to the stories she brings home from work . . . well, it puts things into perspective. Let’s just say she keeps me grounded – she is an angel.

8. What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the construction industry?

Experience matters in construction, so take the time to learn the basics and build a good foundation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn from all the expertise around you. This is an exciting industry with many career avenues to choose from. If you work hard, build relationships, and do the right thing, then this industry will reward you. 

9. How do you handle high-pressure situations or heavy workloads?

I am a believer of “cooler heads prevail.” When I was younger, I was part of a volunteer fire department and learned how to work swiftly while staying calm. When in doubt, always focus on the task at hand and do not lose your head.

10. Why Perlo? What makes us unique?

I have found that Perlo is made up of a lot of smart, yet humble, people. Combined with a hard work ethic, we have the ingredients that sustains an extraordinarily strong company as a force in the industry.

In addition to good recruiting and focusing on our core values, we are constantly seeking to better ourselves. For this reason, we will never be satisfied that we’ve found all the answers. It’s the journey that creates a culture of continuous improvement. That hunger is contagious, and when one idea doesn’t quite pan out, it may very well spur an idea from someone else that leads to an even better outcome.

I have appreciated how Perlo is able to communicate lessons learned. It takes being vulnerable to share the mistakes we have all made at one time or another, but we are all better off for it.

Final Thoughts

We’d like to thank Todd for sharing his thoughts with us about his career, lessons learned, and why the culture at Perlo keeps us highly ranked in the 100 Best companies to Work for in Oregon. If you’ve been considering a career in construction or are looking for a workplace that values your contributions not just to projects, but to the company as a whole, check out our Careers page to view open positions.

There is no doubt the construction industry is one built on relationships. They are forged with the clients, subcontractors, architects, coworkers, and colleagues. as well as local and state jurisdictions.  Each serve a distinct purpose and help us deliver a high level of coordination and communication for the successful delivery of construction projects. 

But what about the relationships that are built off the jobsite? As a large commercial general contractor, our business depends on having a pulse on all aspects of the industry to be innovative and ahead of the curve. This starts with being actively involved with organizations that directly influence real estate and provide networking, education, and advocacy opportunities.

At Perlo, we are honored to have deep and lasting relationships with many of these organizations and continue to nurture and foster our connections through active participation. Today we highlight several of the organizations that make an impact on our industry and people.

The CREW Network (Commercial Real Estate Women)

CREW aspires to transform the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. Founded in 1989, CREW currently boasts over 12,000 members in 75 markets. Through their initiatives, members are given the tools to build a successful presence in the commercial real estate industry.

CREW has proven to be an invaluable resource for business networking through their conventions and leadership summits. In addition, their exclusive technology platform works as a personal marketing tool via a membership directory and resource and referral center. CREW strives to be a leader in achieving gender equity and greater diversity in commercial real estate. Their industry research delivers critical data for the development of meaningful actions that serve to positively impact women and the BIPOC community.

Members are provided multiple opportunities for high-level leadership development, including service on boards and committees. CREW provides programs to educate women and young girls about careers in commercial real estate, promotes education and provides scholarships for college-level courses and mentorships.  

Their website explains that, “A CREW Network membership is generally open to individual professionals of any gender currently employed in a qualified field of commercial real estate. Many chapters also offer “Affiliate” membership for individuals who do not work in a qualified field of commercial real estate”.  They advise consulting the chapter website or contacting them for additional details.

Perlo’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Elissa Looney describes her experience;

“I’ve been a part of CREW for more than a dozen years and served on the CREW Portland board from 2014 – 2017, acting as Chapter President in 2016. CREW has been instrumental to my professional growth. I can say, without question, that CREW Portland and CREW Network have been integral to my success in this industry.

The Associated General Contractors of America

The AGC functions as a “voice for the construction industry” by providing access to experienced contractors and construction companies all with a dedicated emphasis on the values of skill, integrity, and responsibility.   Currently, the AGC represents more than 27,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. Additionally, through their expansive network of chapters across the nation, more than 10,500 service providers and suppliers are also associated with AGC. Nationwide chapters seek to provide a full range of services that address the needs and concerns of its members, “thereby improving the quality of construction and protecting the public interest”.

These core services address critical components of the construction industry such as safety, labor relations, advocacy, and workforce development. Members have access to vital programs such as health insurance, retirement, and workers’ compensation, and generous discounts on industry-related products through vendor partnerships. Most notably, the AGC is a premier education resource for its contractor members through their extensive training and certification courses designed to improve safety and reduce accidents.

The AGC sponsors multiple events like golf tournaments and conventions where members can socialize and network with those in the industry. The AGC offers two types of membership: Contractors and Associates. While Contractors have access to programs and services, Associate members can still make connections with industry colleagues to market their products and services and to build relationships. Associate members are also invited to serve on councils and committees and can participate in sponsorship opportunities.

To learn more about membership with the AGC, visit their contact us page on their website.

Perlo Project Manager Lainee Perala says of AGC:

“As an active member of AGC of America, I get a front-row seat to the inner-workings of a hugely influential construction organization at a national level. Through my participation on a number of national boards, I have been able to not only develop my own project management and leadership skills, but also aid in creating a construction industry that is diverse, engaging, and beneficial to all involved.

The Commercial Real Estate Development Association

The Commercial Real Estate Development Association is a leading organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial and mixed-use real estate. The association began in 1967 when a small group of industrial park owners and developers in the eastern US formed the NAIP (National Association of Industrial Parks) to provide a forum for open exchange and information. The “O” to the acronym was added later to include office parks but due to a change in membership, the words behind the acronym were dropped to better reflect the composition of their members. Today, NAIOP’s 20,000+ membership advances responsible commercial real estate development and advocates for effective public policy in North America.

NAIOP’s mission is to provide advocacy, education and business opportunities through an influential network of professionals in the commercial real estate development and investment industry. Through their advocacy and educational resources, NAIOP takes action on legislative priorities relevant to commercial real estate such as tax and regulatory policies and provides career advancement opportunities via their courses and certificate programs. NAIOP’s sister organization, the NAIOP Research Foundation conducts dedicated research to evaluate emerging trends, economic conditions, and to assess the overall needs of the industry. With their 50+ years of experience, NAIOP has laid out a clear vision statement, “Commercial real estate solutions meet the changing demands for how people work, live, shop and play”.

NAIOP continues to attract a diverse group of members, representing the many facets of the commercial real estate industry who are committed to excellence, entrepreneurial in spirit, and want to reach new heights in building excellence.

Membership information is available by contacting the state chapter or visiting their website.

Perlo Marketing Coordinator and NAIOP Marketing & Communications Committee member Meuy Tzeo, remarks

“NAIOP Oregon has been a game-changer for me professionally and personally. As a newbie to construction, I initially got involved to expand my network and gain insights about the industry. I quickly discovered that this association goes beyond small talk and surface level advocacy. I have built meaningful relationships, and get to see first-hand the work put in by board of directors, committee members, sponsors, and members to make the Greater Portland Metro area a wonderful place to live again.”

Final Thoughts

Investing our time and efforts into these associations provides Perlo and the larger industry with critical insights and data that assist us with strategic planning, relationship building and political advocacy. We are proud to be members of each of them and look forward to what the future holds for the commercial real estate market.

With any ground-up construction project, there is a large amount of excavation and site work necessary to prepare the ground. All of that digging could uncover something that could stop a project dead in its tracks. For instance, what happens if a contractor uncovers a set of bones or culturally significant artifact? While it might seem tempting to push these items to the side and proceed with business as usual, there are both state and federal laws in place that protect these findings.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind these laws and the steps that must be taken in the event a qualifying item is uncovered. Although every state has their own laws and are also beholden to federal guidelines, today we will focus on the State of Oregon’s guidance related to the discovery of archaeological sites on private land or property, and how these discoveries might impact a construction project.

We spoke with the Oregon State Archaeologist, John Pouley, to understand the significance, designations, and do’s and don’ts when it comes to identifying and encountering potential artifacts on an archaeological site. Pouley has a master’s degree in Anthropology from Washington State University, and for the last 11 years has worked for the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Prior to working for SHPO, Pouley was the Senior Archaeologist for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington State.

What is an Archaeological Site?

An archaeological site is defined as any location that has “physical remains of past human activity that is at least 75 years old”. These might include anything from an arrowhead, stone tools, foundations from historic buildings or even debris like cans and bottles. While many of these items may seem insignificant, they all contribute to the history of Oregon and its inhabitants.

Archaeologists have discovered human activity dating back to 16,000 years ago. Native Americans and early settlers lived off the land, and their tools, artifacts, burial sites, homesteads, and villages are still being uncovered to this day. According to John Pouley, only 20% of Oregon’s land has been surveyed and inventoried by the Oregon SHPO, which leaves an expansive amount of territory that could be potential archaeological sites.

What do Oregon laws Say About Archeological Artifact Preservation?

Archaeological sites on non-federal public and private lands are protected by Oregon laws which prohibit the removal, excavation or destruction of any cultural resource’s sites and artifacts. Examples of prohibited activities include:

  • Using a tool to remove an artifact from the ground
  • Vandalizing homestead sites or other old buildings
  • Disturbing burial sites
  • Digging or probing the ground for historic or Native American artifacts

The significance of archaeological sites is determined by the National Register of Historic Places. To be determined, the site must first be evaluated, which can only be completed by a professionally qualified archaeologist with a state archaeological permit. Violation of state law can result in the following penalties:

  • Class B Misdemeanor-Damage to archaeological sites
  • Class C Felony (up to $10,000 fine)-Disturbance of Native American human remains or associated funerary objects

Only 20% of Oregon’s land has been surveyed and inventoried by the Oregon SHPO.

Private Lands & Archaeological Sites

It is important to clarify that in the case of archaeological sites on private land, the artifacts and sites discovered actually belong to the landowner. In the event of an archaeological excavation, the landowner has the right to retain the artifacts, or donate to a tribe or museum, except for Native American human remains, burials, associated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony (ORS97.740)”.  This may seem confusing, or at the least, a gray area. After all, the landowner not only has the right to object to a permit or request special considerations of a proposed archaeological survey, but they also must provide consent for anyone to access their land.

The State of Oregon entrusts the landowners to be stewards of these potential sites, though only qualified archaeologists are allowed to survey, collect, or excavate on private lands and must possess a state archaeological permit to proceed with these kinds of investigations. Damage or desecration of protected remains or objects could lead to potential fines, charges, or litigation.

The Oregon SHPO strongly recommends that the best course of action when encountering a potential archaeological site on private land is avoidance. If that is not possible, and there is good reason to believe that it could be an archaeological site, the property owner can have the area tested by a qualified archaeologist.  The Oregon SHPO offers guidance and resources to address any questions or concerns about the evaluation process and property rights, including these FAQ’s.

Construction and Project Planning

When it comes to construction, time and scheduling are of the utmost importance. Between supply chain issues, labor shortages, permitting delays and the myriad of other obstacles every project can face, the last thing any team wants is to uncover something that could set their project back and potentially place their schedule in jeopardy. State Archaeologist John Pouley recommended steps that can be initiated from the beginning of the project to avoid potential delays:

  • Contact the Oregon SHPO to determine if the property is in the historic registry or if there are registered archaeological sites nearby.
  • Require the landowner to provide an archaeological report completed by a qualified/professionally recognized archaeologist.
  • Keep and maintain an inadvertent discovery plan on any site where the ground is disturbed, in the event an archaeological site or artifact is uncovered.
  • If the designated project site is close or adjacent to a registered archaeological site, it is logical that it might be an archaeological site as well. Due diligence is always best, and the Oregon SHPO has specific information on finding a qualified Archaeologist.

With most large construction projects, it is customary that the owner provides an archaeological evaluation during the preconstruction process. In the event an artifact is uncovered during the construction process, the following steps should be taken immediately:

  • Stop work at that location, protect and block off to area.
  • Contact the Oregon SHPO for further information and instructions.
  • Avoid further work until the site is evaluated.

While the possibility of a project being shut done seems detrimental, according to Pouley, no site has ever been permanently shut down. However, delays are likely. If contact is made quickly with the Oregon SHPO, they will help coordinate with all interested parties to expedite the process.

Potential Human Remains

If, during excavation or site work, bones are uncovered, there are specific steps necessary in to order to ensure compliance with the law: any bones found should be treated as human remains, therefore the Oregon State Police should be the first agency contact. They will approach the site as a potential crime scene.

In addition to the possibility of the bones being connected to a crime, they could be the bones of Native America or early Euro-Americans and there are very specific laws (ORS 97.745 and ORS 97.750) that apply to the treatment of Native American remains. It is both ethically and legally critical to follow proper protocols to avoid potential fines, penalties, or criminal charges.

In the case of the discover of remains, the following agencies must be contacted:

Keep in mind that in some cases federal laws and guidelines may apply to these scenarios, as well.

Why is protecting archaeological sites important?

According to the Protection of Archaeological and Cultural Resources guide provided by the State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, “these sites are the legacy of our country and the heritage of all people. Once removed or damaged, they cannot be restored. The relationship or context between artifacts and their surroundings is as important as the artifacts themselves. The artifacts should be left undisturbed.” Oregon is and has been home to dozens of Native American tribes, and currently has nine registered tribes. The tribes have been diligent in protecting their history and have been integral in the establishment of both state and federal laws regarding the protection of archaeological sites. There is a deep-rooted and devastating history of desecration of their sacred lands and artifacts, which makes it vital to protect the remaining sites in an effort to preserve their culture and heritage.

In addition, artifacts recovered from archaeological sites can also be connected to the lives of early settlers and various cultures and communities who have lived and established their legacy in Oregon. Pouley explained that ultimately, these artifacts tell a story; a tangible record that helps paint the big picture of the history of mankind and the earth.

Final Thoughts

While the construction industry revolves around the act of building new structures, there is also an ethical component to our craft that encourages preservation and responsible stewardship. Construction companies have a duty to not only act in the best interests of the owner, client, or developer, but also to abide by and adhere to the laws and regulations established by local, state, and federal jurisdictions. While the discovery of an archeological site may not be predictable, the steps to follow upon their discovery are clear.

This year we are introducing a new series to our weekly articles titled, ‘Construction Terms,’ and we intend to use this series to present and explain common terms within the commercial construction industry. To those not familiar with the construction process, entering it can be daunting, as if you are learning another language and culture. And if it is your project on the line, the learning curve can be staggering as well as expensive.

We will be paying particular attention to the terms for various processes and procedures, as properly managing these can make or break the success of a project and determine how smoothly it is planned and constructed.

For today, we will be exploring the concept of Submittals. What are they, and why do they matter?

What are Submittals?

Submittals are an important part of construction processes and procedures, with submittals occurring on every construction project. Submittals are documents, drawings, product data sheets, samples, or mock-ups of materials and/or systems developed by the contractor and reviewed by the architect prior to ordering materials for a specific project. Contrary to popular belief, submittals are not a contractual document, but rather a demonstration of how the contractor will perform according to the design intent.

Submittals are generally created by the specific trade partners on a given project and submitted to the general contractor for review. The contractor must first review and approve them before sending them to the architect for their review. During the general contractor’s review, they are searching for a variety of components on a given submittal, such as:

  • Conformance of the materials to the design specifications
  • Conformance of dimensions for the existing space and design drawings, with clarifying questions to the architect in the event of a discrepancy
  • Conformance to the design intent
  • Conformance of the proposed material layout as compared to the contractual design documents
  • Constructability issues
  • Conflicts with other building systems

Submittals are reviewed by at least one, if not multiple project management team members, including the superintendent, project manager, project engineer or other parties such as a BIM coordinator, MEPF manager, safety team members, etc.

Depending on the contractual agreement, the submittal may be reviewed only by the architect, and they also may be passed on to a third-party consultant and/or the owner for review and approval. Submittals can be returned to the contractor with directions such as, but not limited to:

  • Rejected
  • Make corrections noted
  • Approved with corrections
  • Approved

It is possible that submittals are generated and submitted more than once if corrections are necessary or material choices and/or designs change. They should be reviewed until approved to the satisfaction of every party involved.

Following the general contractor’s review, the submittal is returned to the trade partner if significant corrections and/or concerns are discovered. If they conform to the design intent, they are sent to the architect for their review.

Once returned to the general contractor, they must review the submittal and return it to the trade partner with directions to review, make any necessary changes, and proceed with next steps, generally either a modification to the submittal, or ordering materials and proceeding with fabrication.

Planning for Submittals

One element of the submittal process is knowing what items and/or trades need submittals for review. Sometimes, the project specifications will list out what submittals are required. During the preconstruction process, the general contractor will create a Submittal Schedule that includes a list of required submittals, the trade partner responsible, and associated deadlines for submission, review, and return to the trade partner. They may also call this a ‘Submittal Log.’ This schedule, or log, includes deadlines for the number of days each reviewer has for their piece of the process. For instance, many typical submittals may be given to the general contractor with a 3-day turnaround to review and send to the architect. The architect may then have 3 days to review and return the submittal, and so on. These timelines are dictated by contractual documents.

The submittal log is updated when submittals are received, sent to the architect, returned to the contractor, and sent back to the trade partner, as well as with due dates for turnaround times from all these parties. This log is reviewed consistently by the project management team as well as at Owner/Architect/Contractor meetings so that all parties understand what is due and by when.

Submittals must be prepared well in advance of ordering products. In today’s climate, this often means they are needed well ahead of materials installation, possibly as much as a year or more ahead of the installation. In any case, the lead times for material orders and/or fabrication must be part of the equation when planning for submittal deadlines.

Types of Submittals

Submittals come in many forms, but the main ones include:

Shop Drawings

These diagrams or drawings, typically completed in a design program such as CAD, which demonstrates elements of the work. Commonly, these are used for items such as:

  • Casework and countertops
  • Structural and decorative steel elements
  • Rebar
  • Doors, frames, and hardware
Product Data

Often provided direct from a manufacturer, these are not typically produced custom for a project but are provided to demonstrate what material will be installed. These are often submitted for items such as:

  • Drywall products
  • Light fixtures
  • Mechanical units
  • Plumbing fixtures

These are physical illustrations of an item to demonstrate things like color, workmanship, how materials fit together, etc. They may be referred to as ‘mock ups’. Common items that might be a sample include:

  • Paint swatches
  • Plastic laminate samples
  • Stone, tile, carpet, or other flooring materials
  • Finished wood samples
  • Wood doors and/or stain samples

The basic idea is that whatever is submitted will provide an adequate depiction of the final product so that all parties can agree to what will be installed. In other words, the contractor is setting the expectation for what the owner will see when construction is complete.

Final Thoughts
Submittals are a critical part of the construction process. They help clarify expectations for products, finish materials and coordination between trade partners, the architect and ownership teams. What needs to be submitted and who reviews them will depend on the contractual arrangement between the owner and project team members.

Welcome to 2023 and a new year of commercial construction projects in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve now made it through the busy holiday season and it’s time to look forward to what the new year might have in store for commercial general contracting companies.

If you’ve been following along, we spent some time reviewing the projects we completed in 2022, ranging from large industrial projects to small renovations, with many building uses including self-storage, auto dealerships, K-12 education, high-tech manufacturing, office and more. So, what’s to come for 2023? We see much of the same types of buildings and renovation projects with many of the same material procurement challenges on the horizon, but with an added complication: the forecast by economists of a mild recession.

Looking forward doesn’t just mean evaluating what projects are coming down the line, but how to successfully operate our business, how to recruit and retain a workforce in a tight labor market, to stay relevant in a competitive market and still ensure that work is still delivered on time and on budget. Today, we’ll explore what we see in store for the new year relative to commercial construction work.

Construction is Cyclical

Commercial construction is a cyclical business that follows the trends of the businesses it supports. When other businesses are performing well and growing, construction does, too. Similarly, when other businesses slow down and/or operate more conservatively, construction also slows down. What we are seeing is a large amount of new construction projects that pushed from their planned 2022 starts moving into planning for 2023, and moving for various reasons, including permit delays, financing challenges, etc. It will be interesting to see if these projects, in addition to new 2023 planned projects, actually break ground.


Where new construction and remodels in the industrial space, in particular, has been rapid in the last couple of years, some of the largest e-commerce giants have recently slowed construction. This, along with other economic predictions by both local and national economists, signals that the construction market is on the decline.

This kind of cycling is normal for the industry. We even discussed it with two of our long-term superintendents in a recent podcast. Superintendent, Mark Helling, talked about carpentry work being ‘feast or famine’, with trades workers being used to the cycling of the market and periods of too much work compared with too little.

The question everyone will be looking to answer about this decline in the construction cycle is: how deep will it go before we hit the trough and climb back up? In positive news, the State of Oregon’s economist, Josh Lehner, is anticipating only a mild recession, in large part due to the strong economic indicators that currently exist, such as the tight labor market, increased wage growth and high levels of personal savings in individual households. 

Our forecast is that the ‘recession’ for commercial construction will be shallow, as well. Smart companies will be planning their workloads strategically and confirming great customer satisfaction, ensuring that clients don’t question their loyalty for upcoming projects.

Most recently, clients have reported difficulty in acquiring contractors for their work, as if there is too much work to go around. With any luck, the next year will find us with ‘just enough’ for everyone – a pleasant leveling off that doesn’t feel much like a recession at all.   

The Industrial Cycle

Particularly in the industrial market sector, construction and absorption in the United States saw booming numbers in 2021 and 2022. In fact, according to NAIOP, net absorption of industrial space in 2021 was nearly double that of 2020 and most of the previous 5 years prior to that, as well. Construction, therefore, has been at the peak of the cycle, indicating that we are ‘due’ for a decrease in activity. Industry experts agree, with predictions for absorption returning to more ‘normal’ levels for 2023.

Some have suggested that this decrease in construction activity may help improve on lead times for roof structure and electrical gear, both of which have significantly increased with shipping and manufacturing delays during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This would be a welcome relief. While we have seen developers being thoughtful about their upcoming projects and evaluating financing options closely, there are still many plans on the horizon for projects scheduled to break ground in spring and summer of 2023.

Recruitment of Tradespeople and Professional Positions in 2023

Recruitment for professional positions and craft workers has been a challenge in recent years and is not anticipated to improve any time soon. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 93 % of construction firms reported difficulty in filling open positions as of August 2022, and 77 % of those firms cited a lack of qualified candidates or inability to pass drug testing as the most common explanation for this difficulty.  

This lack of skilled labor is unlikely to improve in the near term, as workers continue to retire, and training new workers requires significant investment in education programs. Construction firms are rising to the challenge, however, with more companies increasing their spending on training and supporting local organization like Girls Build, Portland Youth Builders, and the Beaverton School District’s Career & Technical Education programs. Additionally, union trade programs continue to offer opportunities for new workers to learn skills through their education and apprenticeship programs.

While major efforts are underway to shore up skilled trades, these efforts will take time and significant resources to solve.

In addition to craft positions, recruiting for roles such as Project Manager and Project Engineer have also been a challenge this past year, with nearly every construction company seeking experienced candidates in a variety of roles and locations. We don’t see this easing much in the new year. With the anticipation of only a mild recession, smart companies will be holding tight to their team members to weather the storm and come out strong on the other side.

Retention of Construction Crews and Professional Positions

With recruitment a tough battle, retention of workers in all positions is a critical concern for the upcoming year. Fair treatment of employees and finding ways to make all workers feel included, safe and valued will go a long way towards retaining them. Some strategies include:

  • Making safety programs a high priority and including all levels of employee in safety programs/committees.
  • Making employees part of decision making. This can be achieved through initiatives such as Perlo’s Opportunity for Improvement Program where employees can submit ideas for peer group review and implementation.
  • Finding ways to provide employee engagement opportunities with a variety of team building activities, creative work groups and collaborative meeting spaces.
  • Giving back to the local community. This can be achieved through paid volunteer programs, charitable giving campaigns, engagement in youth education work, and more.  
  • Provide bonus programs for performance and/or certain measurable outcomes.

Most importantly, treat all workers with respect and kindness. Find ways to provide them with opportunities to increase their skillsets and challenge them to improve over time. Empowering employees goes a long way towards spurring loyalty and ingenuity.    

Final Thoughts on our 2023 Forecast

The new year is upon us, and while some economic indicators might seem daunting, there is hope for a strong commercial construction market. If the predicted recession remains shallow, inflation levels off and we collectively stay optimistic, there will be plenty of work to go around.

Here at Perlo, we will remain optimistic and continue to take care of our people and always do what’s right. We wish you all a Happy New Year!

A new year is all about new beginnings and at Perlo Construction, it’s all about renewed opportunity. We take this time to reflect and learn from what is behind us, reinforce and develop relationships with our friends and partners and open the door to new ones. We focus on the journey ahead and how we can successfully grow while doing what we do best: building.

The new year is also the perfect opportunity to invest in the community where we work and live by increasing our outreach and paying it forward. We are proud to have delivered 390 coats and 211 toys to the Angels in the Outfield charity group last week, providing warmth to local children who have been impacted by crime or abuse.

We have a lot to discover from what came before us. In this New Year, we embrace that knowledge and seize the opportunities ahead.

From all of us at Perlo Construction, we want to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. Here’s to 2023!

We conclude our Year in Review series by taking a look at our projects close to home. Our headquarters, located in Tualatin, Oregon, affords us the opportunity to take part in the ever-expanding growth of the Portland Metro area where we build premier facilities for our clients and partners.

They say, “there is no place like home,” but for us, home is in the field doing what we do best: building. Beyond the building of our specialty structures like industrial warehouse tilt-up buildings, we strive to build relationships both in our industry as well as our community. We have been doing what we do for 66 years, and we do not take that longevity for granted. We know that to sustain a company for this long takes serious work. It requires showing up and delivering on our promises day after day.

The proof of our longevity is in the on-time delivery of our projects and our long-standing relationships with our clients. Before we conclude this series, we want to take the time to thank all of our collaborators for partnering with us and allowing us the opportunity to bring their projects to life.

Tualatin-Sherwood Corporate Park

Located on the bustling Tualatin-Sherwood Road, this 32-acre development is home to three new, speculative, tilt-up industrial buildings. The project needed more than one million cubic yards of excavation work, new utility tie-ins, and public street improvements. In addition, a soil nail shotcrete retaining wall, large water retention ponds and several new EV charging stations were added to the design.

Like any project, the team encountered detours along the way. Project Manager, Jacob Klein, explained that the preparation of the site required extensive rock blasting. Because of this, added precautions were necessary to maintain safe working areas and to coordinate concrete pours around the blasting. Vibration monitors were used to ensure no concrete was damaged in the process. We featured much about this project in a previous article, discussing the complexities of the site logistics for this work.   

Perlo’s crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete, including footings and slabs
  • Tilt-up and cast-in-place walls
  • Miscellaneous rough carpentry
  • Doors, frames and hardware installation

The construction of this project began during the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic, which required the establishment of safe working conditions while enforcing both Perlo and governmental policies. There were multiple shake-ups after construction began, like reducing the number of buildings from five to three, and incorporating LEED certification, which resulted in significant changes to the design, budget, and the scope of work. The team went above and beyond to work with the City of Sherwood and local jurisdictional authorities to meet every necessary requirement.

Perlo Team

Chris McInroe | Project Director

Jacob Klein| Project Manager

Mike Lutz | Superintendent

Thomas Vielle | Foreman

McKayla Marshall | APM

Dennis Bonin | Director of Safety

112th & Myslony

Like the TS Corporate Park, these two new concrete tilt-up industrial buildings are located on the highly visible Tualatin-Sherwood Road. The sitework performed by the project team was extensive and included installing an underground stormwater detention system. From the beginning, there were several factors the team discussed during preconstruction that needed extra attention. Extensive planning was necessary to complete this work, including:

  • Managing a very tight jobsite to accommodate the building size and configuration.
  • Implementing the city’s requirement for an 80% increase in stormwater detention systems
  • Management of the increased budget due to the added stormwater detention requirements.

Additionally, Superintendent Tracy Robinson remarked that a street and utility extension was required and had to be completed in conjunction with the site construction. Since this new street extension was also the only site access, it was difficult to complete the new buildings while maintaining construction flow.

Senior Project Manager, Jordan Peterson, added that one of the greatest challenges for him was knowing “that it was a project that every Perlo employee would drive past each day,” and wanting to ensure that it was a building that represented the Perlo brand successfully.

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete, including footings and slabs
  • Tilt-up and cast-in-place walls
  • Miscellaneous rough carpentry
  • Doors, frames and hardware installation

The project was an overwhelming success. Perlo was given the opportunity to perform all of the subsequent tenant improvement projects, and now both buildings are  is fully leased. Another great project for Perlo!

Perlo Team

Jordan Peterson | Senior Project Manager

Whitney Peterson | Project Manager

Tracy Robinson | Superintendent

Jared Libby | Foreman

McKayla Marshall | APM

Dennis Bonin | Director of Safety

Shredding Systems, Inc.

This project consisted of the construction of two new concrete tilt-up buildings with a combined 57,400 SF for Shredding Systems Inc., conveniently placed next to their existing facility in Wilsonville, Oregon. One of the buildings included around 3,000 SF of wood framed office build-out and mezzanine space.   .

From the beginning of the project, the team faced an enormous obstacle in that the project had originally been designed 15 years prior. The project team worked diligently to coordinate with ownership, civil engineers, and utility companies to address the existing utility locations that conflicted with the dated plans. In addition, several trees had grown significantly into the locations of the footings and utility easements. of the City of Wilsonville is affectionately know as Tree City, USA. As such, Project Manager Lainee Perala reflected that “we had to engage an arborist and the city each time we worked near a tree or were considering removal”.

Perlo’s team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete including footings, slabs, tilt panels, dock aprons, and stair pans
  • Installation of engineered timber framing
  • Doors, frames and hardware installation

Despite facing the disruptions of unknown site conditions, schedule impacts, plan and design conflicts, and the Covid-19 pandemic, the project team was able to put their adaptability and experience to work, and successfully see the project through its completion.

Perlo Team

Chris Gregg | Senior VP of Operations

Lainee Perala | Project Manager

Nick Butler | Superintendent

Travis Eaton | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Final Thoughts

In construction, there will always be challenges to overcome. Perlo Practice #3, Success Isn’t a Straight Path, speaks to our ability to adapt during our work, learn from each project and take responsibility for every choice and every action. We set the bar high, but know that there is always room to grow, and that is what drives our success.

Thank you for joining us as we reflected on some of the projects we completed in 2022. We look forward to the next year and the many projects it will bring!

It’s week 3 of our 2022 Year in Review Series and we’re taking a look at some of the projects we constructed right in our ‘backyard’, so to speak. With a new owner-user manufacturing plant, high-tech product picking equipment, a local district administrative office remodel, an industrial warehouse and a new self-storage building, the projects we tackled in 2022 were both varied and unique!

To begin, let’s take a look at a local owner-user, a well-known and reputable brand.

Leupold + Stevens

Perlo developed this new distribution center adjacent to the Leupold & Stevens active manufacturing plant and constructed the building utilizing concrete tilt-up panels, metal decking, and built-up roofing. In addition to the main warehouse area, this project features a thickened slab for heavy material storage, two separate office spaces with custom finishes, a stormwater detention system, and public right of way improvements to accommodate a widened driveway.

The project team collaborated closely with the Architect, CIDA and Developer, Stratus Real Estate Developers throughout the preconstruction, design, and permitting process. The permitting process was complicated by the location of the building, since multiple jurisdictions weighed in on the project including the city of Beaverton and Washington County. Clean Water Services also required extensive permits and inspections. Building constraints also included maintaining access to the existing Leupold & Stevens manufacturing facility.

Perlo’s crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete foundations, slabs and tilt-up walls
  • Miscellaneous rough carpentry
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation
  • Doors, frames and hardware installation

Early planning and coordination paid off for the team in terms of a successful delivery of this new facility. Perlo Senior Project Manager, Jordan Peterson, reflected that “we were able to build the project on an active campus with Leupold and they were very happy with our team, our communication and ultimately, they love their new building.”

Perlo Team

Jordan Peterson | Senior Project Manager

Jakob Eisenbeiss | Project Engineer

Darrell Budge | Superintendent

Isaac Hobb | Foreman

Kathy Ohannessian | APM

Dennis Bonin | Director of Safety

Reilly West – GXO

Constructed in Hillsboro, Oregon, this fully insulated, 27,000 SF concrete tilt-up building with steel decking is complete with racking, offices, break rooms, restrooms, and conference rooms, as well as both a walk-in cooler and freezer, and electric forklift chargers. In addition, the site includes twenty-seven dock doors, vehicular parking, electric vehicle charging stations and a large bio-swale and landscaping.

This unique project presented a myriad of obstacles that offered Perlo an opportunity to rise to the occasion to deliver successful results for the end-user. These obstacles were met with quick and creative thinking, extensive planning and coordination with all parties, and confidence in the capabilities and experience of the team. These obstacles included:

  • Extensive rainfall (99 days with at least 1/10th of an inch from August to June)
  • Supply chain issues and delays in the delivery of the electrical gear and emergency backup generator
  • Challenges in acquiring permits

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete including footings, aprons, dock pits, slabs, and panels
  • Door, frames, and hardware Installation
  • Toilet accessories installation
  • Roof accessories installation
  • Smoking shelter installation

Most unique about this project was the preparation of the robotic package picking system by AutoStore in a section of the warehouse. To function properly, the floor was designed to have a special rating for both floor flatness and floor levelness. To learn more about this unique process, read our featured blog post GXO: A Warehouse to Admire. Perlo Project Manager Taylor Regier reflected that, “we were able to find solutions over the course of months of detailed coordination efforts to still deliver the project on time.”

Perlo Team

Chris McInroe | Project Director

Taylor Regier | Project Manager

Gary Lundervold | Superintendent

Kyle Kowalski | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Mike Souder | Field Safety Coordinator

Sandy Industrial Lot II

This sprawling industrial building was built on 8-acres in Portland, Oregon and features twenty-five dock doors, dock levelers, and 3,500 SF of office space. The projected required extensive sitework to remove and reuse what seemed like a never-ending supply of boulders and the integration of an eyebrow canopy to conceal required sprinkler heads.

During preconstruction, an extensive amount of planning was done to work with the site conditions and grades. Unlike most tilt buildings, the new tilt panels were installed about 11’ under the exterior finished grade, which dramatically complicated the tilt-up process. A specialty material was used for the backfill to ensure the panels will withhold the loading.

Perlo’s team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete including footings, aprons, dock pits, slabs, and panels
  • Miscellaneous carpentry
  • Doors, frames & hardware installation

When asked about the challenge of the site in terms of size and conditions, Senior Project Manager, Jordan Peterson, explained that the picking of the panels was an extraordinary challenge. He remarked that, “we had it planned down to literally inches of space that we had available for our crane.”

Taking all these factors into consideration and being able to rise to the occasion and not only manage, but successfully overcome all of the site challenges was a great triumph for the team.

Perlo Team

Jordan Peterson | Senior Project Manager

Whitney Peterson | Project Manager

Jack Johnson | Superintendent

Jean Rwandika | Project Engineer

McKayla Marshall | APM

West Coast Self-Storage

Located in Happy Valley, Oregon, this project consisted of the ground-up construction of a 57,000 SF, three-story self-storage building and the remodel of an existing 41,000 SF tilt building. With a combined 98,000 square feet, Perlo completed both buildings in a compressed 11-month timeline. Each building’s design features high-end exterior finishes and architectural towers to meet the requirements of the local jurisdiction..

When asked about what made the project unique, Superintendent Mike Lutz had one word: “location.” The jobsite was in close proximity to a major roadway which required that the project team maintain strict traffic control measures to ensure all scheduled deliveries could access the site with ease. In addition, because of its dense, urban location, the site was small and difficult to manage.

Perlo’s team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Seismic upgrades
  • Doors, frames & hardware installation
  • Structural concrete, footings & slabs

Another critical factor that required special planning was the existing power lines surrounding the jobsite. Every one of these challenges were considered and addressed with meticulous care by the project team, allowing us to complete the project in a compressed timeframe.

Perlo Team

Jeremy Maynard | Project Director

Erich Schmidt | Senior Project Manager

Mike Lutz | Superintendent

Devon Panosh | Foreman

Dennis Bonin | Director of Safety

Final Thoughts

Perlo Construction is never one to shy away from a challenge. We understand that in construction, every detail counts. Perlo Practice # 9 is to “Finish Strong: even if you get 99% right, they’ll only remember the 1% you get wrong”. We know that if we dig deep and ensure no stone is left unturned, we can meticulously execute our planning to deliver high-quality projects each and every time.

This week, our Year in Review series resumes as we continue to explore the variety of our construction projects across the Portland Metro Area. From storage facilities to auto dealerships, we demonstrate our ability to deliver successful results across multiple market sectors.

StorQuest Self Storage

This recently completed project features a 4-story, ground-up, self-storage facility in Happy Valley, Oregon. The project included a daylight basement, metal truss roofing, and a covered loading dock. The unique design included varying pitched roofs at different elevations and cultured stone on the corners of the building. Additionally, the project was built on a hillside next to Rock Creek, which required our teams to excavate and export substantial amounts of dirt from the site. 

Due to rising costs, the project team sourced all materials during preconstruction to guarantee the project stayed on budget. According to Project Superintendent, Joe Kane, one of the greatest challenges of the project was the size of the building site. Because the site was so small, the material had to be stored offsite and trucked in ’just-in-time’ for installation. In addition, getting the concrete trucks and pump truck on site for pours was difficult, there was just enough room to back a single truck in. The others had to wait down to street to avoid blocking traffic on busy Sunnyside Road.

Perlo’s crews self-performed a variety of elements, including:

  • Structural concrete footings
  • Cast-in-place walls for the basement

Despite the tight job site and constant erosion control monitoring of Rock Creek on the west side of the building, the team completed an impressive concrete pour of a 4th floor deck and were successful in delivering the project on time.

Perlo Team

Jeremy Maynard | Project Director

Erich Schmidt | Senior Project Manager

Joe Kane | Superintendent

Gary Cox | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Mars Gracida | Field Safety Coordinator

Herzog-Meier Mazda

This project consisted of the new, ground-up construction of a two-story Mazda showroom, the remodel of an existing service and parts sales building, and the addition of a new, ground-up service, detailing, and photo booth building.

From the preconstruction phase, special considerations and planning needed to be made to accommodate existing conditions and ongoing showroom operations, including:

  • Large, underground water retention storage facility
  • Site logistics
  • Customer safety

Like so many projects completed within the last couple of years, supply chain disruptions presented an enormous obstacle for the team, but they were able to draw from recent experiences to enact strategies to keep the schedule on track.

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete work
  • Roof structure installation

Superintendent Jay Edgar reflected on what meant the most for him about this project, “This new dealership sits along the highway with four others that I have previously built. Each one was different in its own design. I am very proud of all these buildings”. The opportunity to perform multiple times for the same clients and those nearby are a true testament to the success that Perlo has achieved in the construction of Auto Dealerships.

Perlo Team

Jake Jensen | Senior Project Manager

Joe Sprando | Project Manager

Jay Edgar | Superintendent

Dave Castillo | Foreman

Regan Cloudy | Project Engineer

Crystal Bentley | Lead APM

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

True Terpenes

Located in Hillsboro, Oregon, this project consisted of a 22,000 SF tenant improvement in an existing office and warehouse space for a CBD production tenant. The scope of the project included constructing a second-level mezzanine, new office spaces, conference rooms, and a manufacturing space with clean rooms and warehouse storage.

To prepare for the project, special considerations needed to be made in the design to consider existing conditions, such as mechanical units, office spaces, and a stained concrete floor. The mezzanine was constructed above an existing office space which, according to Project Manager Adam Smelley, posed some challenges.  

Perlo’s team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Concrete pour back
  • Doors, frames, and hardware installation
  • Restroom accessories installation
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation

Superintendent, Kyncade Hardy, explained that delays in sourcing the structural steel for the mezzanine as well as the custom-colored cloud ceilings requested for the open office area were both large hurdles to overcome. The team made sure to be honest and transparent in their communication with ownership about progress of the project to ensure that the completion of the project was on time, as well as finding creative solutions to work around these challenges. True Terpenes had a tight schedule to bring in their equipment, so finishing on time was critical.

The Perlo Podcast featured an onsite episode all about True Terpenes. View it now in our Newsroom.

Perlo Team

Adam Smelley | Project Manager

Kyncade Hardy | Superintendent

Nathan Wright | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Mike Souder | Field Safety Coordinator

Dragonberry Produce Expansion

This new 29,700 SF tilt-up concrete distribution center is located in Canby, Oregon and is the second facility Perlo has built for Dragonberry Produce. The building included a 6,100 SF cooler and a 2,500 SF freezer with high-speed doors, a natural gas generator, and two high-end office areas with a future separate tenant build-out area for nut processing. The site includes a loading dock, passenger car parking, two swales and drywells for storm water management, a truck scale, and two drive aisles for access.

There were two driving factors in the design of this project: flexibility and sustainability. As the Northwest’s premier specialty produce distributor, it was important to the client that their freezer have a dual function as both a freezer and cooler. To accommodate this, adjustments were made in the design, including a glycol system installed under the slab-on-grade to protect the concrete from freezing. Additionally, although natural gas generators are not common, this system was selected because it is more sustainable than diesel generators.

Perlo’s team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete
  • Depressed freezer slabs
  • Truck scale foundation
  • Interior mezzanine wood structure
  • Exterior wood accent wall
  • Interior stairs
  • Miscellaneous installations

The project team encountered multiple situations that required quick thinking and flexible maneuvering, including:

  • The late addition of a truck scale.  
  • Jurisdictional requirements to change the site utility design

Both of these examples required coordinated efforts to provide the most timely and economical solutions for our client. Senior Project Manager, Jacob Leighter, recalls that “we had several onsite meetings with the city, Owner, Design Team, and Excavation Subcontractor to resolve the site utility problem quickly to keep the project moving.”

In the end, the project was successfully delivered by the project team.

Perlo Team

Jacob Leighter | Senior Project Manager

Steve Dusenberry | Superintendent

Philip Overbye | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

Final Thoughts

Perlo embraces the opportunity to prove our ability to adapt to and persevere over any challenges or adversity that might arise in the course of our projects. Our Perlo Practice #2, “Solutions show up as problems” is the core of our approach to any project. We pride ourselves on the creative and innovative thinking our team brings to the table that ultimately drives our success. We look forward to continued growth across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Perlo’s projects in 2022 represented a diverse group of market sectors that reflect a hopeful outlook of what lies ahead for our community. Perlo continues to expand its geographic reach, with this years’ projects spanning across the metro area into Southwest Washington and beyond. While we may be best known for our work with new tilt-up construction, our list for today includes a wide variety of project types, demonstrating the depth of talent on our team, as well as the versatility and flexibility in our work.

This week we are taking a look at the interstate and regional projects that took us from the Oregon Coast to Northwest Washington.

Bay Area Hospital Pharmacy Renovation

Completed in the Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Oregon, this project was unique in that the work was completed within an existing and occupied hospital. The renovation and expansion focused on the Clean Suite, Receiving Area, Office, and Medical Supply Room. The project also included a new exterior shaft and mechanical room that had to be constructed around and fully enclose the existing shaft and mechanical rooms.

Preconstruction required inventive planning with the design team and hospital ownership. Schedule delays from the air handler unit manufacturer resulted in a shift to the design with a removable section of the exterior wall so that the air handler could be craned into place after the construction of the new mechanical room was complete. Another unique aspect of this project included maintaining existing pharmacy operations by assisting the ownership and design teams in acquiring the necessary permits to temporarily relocate the pharmacy during construction. According to Project Manager, Taylor Regier, “this allowed the project to be constructed in essentially one phase.”

Perlo’s crews self-performed a variety of elements, including:

  • Selective demolition
  • ICRA barriers and temporary protection
  • Trench pour backs and housekeeping pads
  • DFH installation
  • Miscellaneous building installations

Major challenges the project team faced included manufacturer caused equipment delays, unknown conditions revealed during selective demolition, and persistent Oregon Coast rainfall. With a lot of flexibility and creativity, the team was able to work with the local AHJ to pass inspections and receive the necessary approvals to successfully complete the project and get the pharmacy back to a fully operational status.

Perlo Team

Thomas Quesenberry | Project Director

Taylor Regier | Project Manager

Christian Rohr | Superintendent

Brooke Carswell | APM

DSW3 Burlington

This project included the development of a 25-acre site and a new 111,000 SF Amazon Delivery Station. The concrete tilt-up building includes dock doors, employee break areas and restrooms, extensive sitework, and also included the installation of extensive infrastructure for several electric vehicle charging stations.

Located North of Seattle, this delivery station was constructed in the airspace enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration. Project Manager Joshua Swake describes “working in FAA air space and having to navigate their requirements was both a special consideration during preconstruction planning and an ongoing challenge, as well.” With consistent communication and record-keeping, the team was able to keep the schedule on track.

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete work, including foundations, slabs, and tilt walls
  • Doors, frames, and hardware installation
  • Toilet accessories and partitions installation

The specific location required a considerable amount of coordination with multiple agencies to fulfill their requirements. Embracing challenges is what our teams do best, so with significant communication and consistent processes in place, the team was able to complete the job on time and with satisfied end-users.

Perlo Team

Thomas Quesenberry | Project Director

Jacob Leighter | Senior Project Manager

Joshua Swake | Project Manager

Mike Norris | Superintendent

Lance Livingston | Superintendent

Regan Cloudy | Project Engineer

McKayla Marshall | APM

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

Block 10 Tenant Improvement

Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Washington, this multi-story built-out in a new mixed-used building was completed by our Special Projects Group. Impressive details bring out the true personality of this building with floor-to-ceiling windows, high-end finishes, and unique construction materials utilized throughout. One of the more unique features is the use of Falkbuilt wall paneling, which is a sustainable, prefabricated wall covering that helps improve installation efficiencies when compared to drywall.

A key challenge of this project was that the tenant improvement was occurring at the same time that a separate general contractor was completing the shell. This combined with the urban location of the building meant that our SPG team had to ensure clear communication and collaboration with the core project team as well as the other contractor to successfully complete this unique project.

Perlo’s SPG team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Doors, frames, and hardware installation
  • Trim installation
  • Restroom accessories installation
  • Miscellaneous finish carpentry

The design included an impressive array of high-end finishes from the ceilings to the wall treatments to the light fixtures. Senior Manager, Jeff Hankins explains “the amount of detail work performed to create the finished space is hard to fully appreciate.” Overall, the project was highly rewarding because of the lessons learned for future projects, the relationships built with partners on the project, and the opportunity to be innovative, resourceful, and collaborative throughout the process.

Perlo Team

Jeff Hankins | Senior Manager, SPG

Kory Stark | Superintendent

Brent Schmitz | Superintendent

Ted Hill | Superintendent

Kathy Ohannessian | APM

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

Ridgefield Industrial Center

Recently completed on a 50-acre site, this speculative warehouse space consists of concrete tilt-up panels with open web joists and a metal deck roof system as well as thirty-six feet of clear height throughout. Preparing site required coordination with local authorities for extensive wetland mitigation and included public right-of-way improvements.

The project team faced record levels of rainfall during the construction work. As we discussed in a previous post titled, “Wet Weather Construction Challenges”, these conditions have an enormous impact on the schedule and scope of work. Project Manager Nate Brown explained that creative scheduling to pour concrete in tight windows of time was a large part of their strategy.

Perlo’s SPG team self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete including foundations, slabs, and tilt panels
  • Doors, frames, and hardware installation
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation

Another challenge the team faced was delays in permitting due to the small-town jurisdiction lacking the resources to manage the high demand of requested permits in this growing market. Despite all these obstacles, the team was able to stay on track and complete the project efficiently and expediently. Nate remarked that, “the project team was excellent, we worked well together and even in the challenging times we kept our focus on the tasks at hand to complete the job.”

Ridgefield Industrial Center was also the focus of The Perlo Podcast, which can be found on your favorite listening platforms or by visiting our Newsroom.  

Perlo Team

Chris McInroe | Project Director

Drew Carter | Senior Project Manager

Nate Brown | Project Manager

George Trice | Superintendent

Cy Whitmore | Foreman

Crystal Bentley | APM

Final Thoughts

Perlo embraces the opportunity to prove our ability to adapt to and persevere over any challenges or adversity that might arise in the course of our projects. Our Perlo Practice #2, “Solutions show up as problems” is the core of our approach to any project. We pride ourselves on the creative and innovative thinking our team brings to the table that ultimately drives our success. We look forward to continued growth across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

A pinch of this, a dash of that, a dollop here and a spoonful there. Every recipe has its measurements that create perfect dishes that are guaranteed to delight the palette and satisfy the soul. But, in every recipe, there is always that certain something that really makes it special.

As we prepare for another Thanksgiving holiday and plan our dinners with friends and family, we can’t help but think about what makes us special here at Perlo Construction. What is our secret ingredient?

It’s our people.

The extraordinary men and women who all bring their own individual flavors that, when they’re mixed, create a masterpiece! This Thanksgiving as we pile on the turkey with all the trimmings and enjoy a post-meal nap, we will remember that it’s not just the pumpkin pie, the stuffing or the cranberries that make the day complete.  It is the special people sitting next to us that are that secret ingredient. Together, we’re whole.

This year, we wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday, and we are grateful for those that make Perlo the best General Contractor in the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you!

Weather conditions in the Pacific Northwest vary from mild, though often wet, to freezing temperatures with ice and snow for long lengths of time. Weather conditions must be considered when evaluating construction projects in terms of the safety of workers, work sequencing and the time needed to complete tasks. Today we will be reviewing some challenges that come with winter weather, and strategies to minimize them. Issues may include the need to protect building elements as well as creating safety hazards for onsite workers. Best practice is to develop plans to mitigate these concerns before the wet weather occurs. Let’s take a closer look at the challenges that winter weather might bring.

Protecting Building Materials

Many building materials cannot be exposed to significant amounts of moisture or even humidity. This limitation restricts project schedules and can dictate the order of installations for work. Examples include:

Concrete Pours
As we discussed in this article titled the Art and Science of Concrete, weather conditions can significantly impact concrete. If exposed to the elements, installers must take care to protect the surface from rain, and to ensure that the concrete doesn’t get too hot or too cold. A delay in the concrete pour may be necessary if temporary protection measures can’t be installed.

These materials are extremely sensitive to moisture. For instance, drywall compound cannot be finished if the temperature is too cold or humidity levels are too high. Methods of solving these challenges include:

  • Waiting to install these items until the building is enclosed and heated.
  • Adding temporary heat to the space.
  • Installing ventilation such as fans, as well as dehumidifiers to lower the moisture in the building.
  • Completing moisture testing of the existing framing prior to installing finish materials.
  • Installing temporary barriers to enclose the space, such as plastic or plywood infill at glass openings.

Like drywall, paint cannot be installed on wet surfaces or in wet conditions. Without proper temperatures, paint may not adhere or dry appropriately.

Flooring Materials
Warranties for flooring materials could be voided if the moisture content in the floor slab is too high.

Finished Carpentry and Wood
Unsealed wood products can stain and warp if exposed to water. It is possible to trap moisture in wood framing if it’s covered up while the moisture content is too high, leading to mold growth. Temporary protection and/or moisture testing prior to installing finishes are best practices for avoiding these issues.

Protecting these materials from the weather are critical to avoid damage or long-term issues such as delamination, deterioration, or mold growth. Managing schedules, temporary protection and heating and cooling are all key to preventing problems.

Schedule Risks

When winter weather stops work tasks, it is justifiable to delay a project schedule per contractual agreements between owners and contractors. Tasks, such as large concrete pours, cannot occur during rain or freezing events. Similarly, remodels that involve opening areas of existing roofing may need to be delayed in inclement weather. Critical to schedule delays, the contractor must communicate and document these delays with the ownership team. A failure to do so could contribute to fees in the form of liquidated damages.

What are liquidated damages? According to the American Bar Association, they are:

 “…provisions specify(ing) a predetermined amount of money that must be paid as damages if one party does not meet certain contractual requirements. 1) In construction contracts, this typically manifests as a fee per unit of time (the “Liquidated Amount”) in case of a missed schedule milestone such as Substantial Completion. 2) The Liquidated Amount is usually expressed as dollars per day. 3) Liquidated damages may also be tied to performance metrics, such as efficiency, output or availability of a project or facility.” 

Essentially, liquidated damage clauses set pre-agreed upon dollar amounts to be paid to the owner if a contractor fails to meet their obligations. Therefore, if delays due to weather are necessary, proper documentation is critical. Other options for minimizing the effects of winter weather might include adjusting schedules forward, or taking a construction break during the worst seasons of the year. Prioritizing site work and wet weather site preparations ahead of the wet weather season leads to efficiencies and cost savings, as well as the minimization of safety risks and penalties.

Earthwork Risks, Erosion Control & Dewatering

One of the largest risks to cost and schedule on a given construction project is the site work. Unknown conditions or weather delays can extend the time it takes to build, increase the modifications required to stabilize the site, and more. In the Pacific Northwest, regulating bodies in Oregon and Washington require a Certified Erosion & Sediment Control Lead (CECSL) inspector be onsite to maintain records related to erosion & sediment control. Temporary and permanent dewatering systems must be installed to manage the runoff from a given site.

What is dewatering?
As we discussed in an earlier article, dewatering is the process of removing surface or ground water from a particular location. Most construction work cannot occur in areas with significant water ponding. Techniques have been designed to move water out of each area for the duration of construction. The process typically involves sloping the areas of work to drain water away, pumping surface water to another location, or drilling a series of well-points into the ground around the area of work and pumping it to another location to artificially lower the water table while work is occurring.

Some form of pumping is typically used for all deep foundation work, pipe zones, utility trenches, and manhole structures, as these items are placed beneath the surrounding ground level. Maintaining proper dewatering systems and preparing jobsites for winter weather conditions protect the owner and contractor from delays and additional costs.

Worker Safety

Wet weather comes with various site safety challenges for crew members. These include:

  • Increased risk of slips, trips and falls due to frozen, muddy or wet surfaces.
  • Decreased visibility if safety glasses are wet, or the environment is dark, foggy, or saturated with rain.
  • Equipment and vehicle windshields or mirrors can become fogged or distorted, making safely operating them an added concern. It’s critical that workers stop their actions to clean or clear windows and mirrors before proceeding with their work.
  • Clogging tools, such as saws becoming clogged with wet sawdust, etc.
  • Excessive weight of materials due to ponding water or saturation.
  • Employee visibility – wet and foggy conditions can lead to poor visibility for employees operating machinery, heavy equipment, or passenger vehicles. It is recommended for workers to wear a Class II high visibility garment.
  • Slippery tools or materials – working from heights with wet, slippery tools or materials increases the likelihood of these hazards striking workers below. Using the correct glove type, using tool lanyards, and establishing a drop zone are important considerations.
  • Electrical Hazards – Power tools, including temporary power distribution boxes and extension cords, have the potential for electrical shock when operated when wet.
  • In addition to these safety concerns, crew members working in wet or freezing conditions without proper protective equipment and waterproof gear are at risk of hypothermia. Workers should dress in layers and have access to a warm, dry, environment for break periods.

Proper planning to implement safety measures during winter weather is critical to keeping workers safe and the project underway.

Final Thoughts
In addition to weather conditions, winter can bring challenges related to labor availability and delivery schedules. Freezing and/or snowy conditions can shut down roads and prevent access for workers and deliveries in the Portland Metro area. This can affect supply chains and labor forces. Floods and power outages during winter storms can also cause delays as workers must tend to their homes and families, or sites must shut down due to a lack of power.

Winter weather presents multiple challenges for construction sites, but with proper planning, documentation and a little flexibility, plans can be put in place to minimize the impacts to the project schedule and cost.

Veteran’s Day is a day of observance, designed to celebrate and honor America’s veterans. November 11th, 1918 is remembered as the end of ‘the war to end all wars’, as hostilities between Germany and the Allied Nations of World War I ceased.

The date was first federally recognized in 1919 when President Wilson declared November 11th as Armistice Day. However, the date wasn’t a legal Holiday until 1938, the same year in which the name changed to Veterans Day to honor the veterans of all wars in lieu of only those from World War I.

In the United States, Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11th, no matter which day of the week it falls.

Currently, there are more than a half million veterans working in the construction industry. The extraordinary qualities they develop and foster in the military tie seamlessly into the qualities we look for in the construction industry. Discipline, teamwork, loyalty and adaptability are just a few of these qualities and that is why we are so proud to employ several veterans on our team.

Today, we tip our hard hat to our veterans. Past, present and future: thank you for your service.

There are pros and cons to the various means of procuring a contractor. Your options are to hard bid work amongst multiple general contractors after design drawings are further along, or to procure a contractor early in the design process with a negotiated fee and general conditions rate. We are proponents of the latter method, for many reasons, but mostly because early involvement in the design process helps us achieve the best results for our clients.

It has never been more important for owners to negotiate for a contractor than today. We are experiencing challenges to the building environment like long lead times for materials, labor shortages, and costs rising at an increasingly rapid pace. The only way to truly combat these challenges is to have a trusted general contracting partner engaged early enough in the design process to prevent them.

Current Market Challenges

It’s common knowledge that prices are rising and materials are hard to come by. Electrical gear and transformers, steel roof joists, and mechanical units are some of the longest materials to procure. The lead times range from 30+ weeks up to a year and these durations aren’t the only consideration for the schedule. Designs must be far enough along that decisions about products can be made and ordered well ahead of when they are needed, increasing the duration of the preconstruction and procurement periods immensely. 

Inflation is similarly challenging the market, with suppliers often refusing to guarantee pricing until they ship materials. This challenge can be prevented by leveraging buying power and/or planning for contingencies to cover unexpected increases in costs.

To have a building partner on board long before construction begins is the key to being able to procure materials so that they will arrive when needed.

Hard Bidding vs. Negotiation

It is a common misconception that hard bidding a project will lead to the lowest cost for the work when in fact, hard bids more often lead to a contentious relationship between owners and contractors. This relationship most often leads to many change orders and a higher instance of challenges related to delayed materials, design conflicts and more.

With your contractor at the table early in the design process, even as early as a napkin sketch concept, your project can enjoy the following benefits:

Target Value Design: Achieving budget alignment with design intent

Constructability Reviews: Ensuring the most efficient building plan is developed for quality, schedule and cost

Trade Partner Recruitment: Finding the right team for the work to bring quality, cost and schedule into alignment

A Team Approach: With early alignment, the contractor can have a clear picture of your goals and work together to reach them.

Advocacy: The contractor can fight for what’s right for your project with the local jurisdiction, suppliers, trade partners, onsite inspectors and more.

Cost Effectiveness: The items listed previously help achieve the most cost-effective approach which can be established earlier and without fear of extensive change orders over time.

Materials Procurement: A contractor can plan milestones for design development based on deadlines for long-lead items.

For further details into the advantages and disadvantages of hard bidding vs. negotiating, we would encourage you to read our news articles and listen to The Perlo Podcast episode on this topic.

The owner will lock in the fee charged for general contracting services long before construction commences with negotiation. The remainder of the work scope can be bid to the subcontractor and supplier market. A good general contractor will often suggest bidding certain scopes early to take advantage of locking in pricing or labor.

Keys to Effectively Negotiating Projects

There are several keys to ensuring effective relationships between contractors and owners when a project is completed based on a negotiated contract. While this is not an exhaustive list, ensuring that all these boxes are checked is a great start to successful projects:

  • Engage a qualified general contractor with market-specific experience during the conceptual phase of the project. It is optional to have drawings in hand in order to utilize their experience for contributions to the design and budget.
  • Find a contractor with a great ability to develop accurate budgets according to  the following milestones:
  • The general contractor must maintain an open book policy. At each budget and pricing milestone, the owner should be able to review bids and calculations used to compile costs, if desired. The GC is responsible for managing risks and maintaining the budget for the life of the project once the GMP cost is set.
  • Constructability reviews need to be completed at each budget milestone.  To prevent change as the project progresses, the team must ensure the design matches what can feasibly be built.
  • Budgets should include allowances and contingencies that account for unknown risks a project can expose. These funds are transparent to the owner and can be applied as needed and credited back to the owner if the funds do not end up being used.
  • Determine the strategy for procuring subcontractors. When the GC is involved early in the process, they help determine which trades should be involved early. The GC can utilize a design-build agreement for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection trades (MEPF trades). By involving these trades ahead of the others, they can finish designs and submit for permits with the local jurisdiction concurrently with the building permit, often expediting the approval of those permits. In addition, procuring the MEPF contractors early can help aid in the overall design by identifying the following items, among others:

The most significant contributor to a successful project is that the client, design team and contractor approach it collaboratively. When all parties are clear about expectations, communicate frequently, and look for win-win solutions to challenges, the result is a project that is completed as expected, and a team of people that are satisfied by the journey it took to get from beginning to end.

Constructability Reviews

Another benefit to negotiating with a general contractor is to utilize their experience to complete constructability reviews.

A constructability review, or rather, a series of them, is generally completed during the preconstruction process of any given project. Teams review several factors to determine whether the project is designed most appropriately to meet cost, functional goals and schedule. During the design development phase, the general contractor and design teams are responsible for reviewing documents at each stage of design document issuance and contributing their knowledge in assessing many factors. First and foremost, these reviews must consider the design as it relates to the owner’s end goals to ensure they match.

These reviews may include the evaluation of:

  • Materials use
  • Construction timing and its impact to existing conditions
  • Site logistics
  • The potential requirement of temporary shoring/bracing.
  • Phasing strategies to optimize the schedule
  • Subcontractor recruitment strategies
  • Equipment clearances required
  • Test fitting building enhancements against project cost and schedule
  • End-user needs
  • Local building code restrictions
  • Environmental concerns, such as displacement of local wildlife
  • Sustainability goals

Contractors review the design drawings to ensure that what is written in ink translates to a building that meets the owner’s needs in terms of schedule, price, function, and sustainability. Their findings must be transparent and communicated to all team members so they can modify designs.

Final Thoughts

There are many benefits to negotiating your procurement strategy with a general contractor .  In today’s turbulent and challenging market, the benefits for materials procurement and cost control are substantial.

If you are considering a new project, contact our teams today to see how we can help you.

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

In this week’s episode of The Perlo Podcast, Host Elissa Looney, Perlo’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, meets with Perlo Project Manager Forrest Gregg and Superintendent Glen Alcock to discuss the Tesla Service Center in Vancouver, Washington. The Tesla Service Center is a 32,000 SF concrete tilt-up building located on about 3 acres and required the demolition of 3 older buildings. Tesla has been building similar projects across the country, but this model is relatively new compared to other auto manufacturers. Additionally, this building envelope is made of insulated tilt panels, a unique construction method.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Forrest Gregg
Project Manager
Glen Alcock

Unique Features

While this building is a concrete tilt building, it’s unique in that the shell is made of cast-in-place tilt panels with insulation sandwiched between two layers of concrete. Superintended Glen Alcock explains how the tilt panels were constructed, including the time limits for setting the insulation and placing the connectors, testing them, and what happens if the connectors don’t ‘set’ correctly. Perlo’s team self-performed the slab-on-grade and insulated tilt panels. We looked at the strategies Glen and his team use to communicate the tilt panel pour sequence, layout, pick order, and what trade partners are involved in the process.

Safety and Logistics During Tilt-Up Construction

With tilt panels weighing 75,000 lbs or more, which Glen calls ‘reasonably light’ compared to some of the panels that Perlo has done, safety is a significant concern. The team discussed the crane-picking strategies and site logistics constraints that dictated how they decided to pick the panels.

Lessons Learned with Insulation Tilt Panels 

While much of the process is the same as our typical panels, adding the insulation led to some lessons for the team. The biggest was to ensure the insulation laid loose inside the concrete forms instead of trying to fit it in tight and ‘pushing’ it down. Failure to do so led to the connectors failing to set.

Project Challenges 

Construction projects always have challenges, and this site was no exception. The team encountered many underground utilities due to old placement that wasn’t documented. In addition, high groundwater led to extensive dewatering measures, and the team had to be conscientious of the local businesses in the area. The building site is very small. Building great relationships with the neighboring properties has made a big difference in the success of our work.

In addition, materials lead times are extensive currently. Hence, the team found offsite storage areas to utilize so that the schedule could be met and kept as many items offsite as possible to avoid theft and damage in the interim.

Site Tour

The episode continues with a short tour of the site. First, we looked at the front storefront area where the tube steel structure was erected, the tilt walls were standing, and the roof structure and decking were underway.

In addition to the structure, the site includes the following:

  • Right-of-way improvements.
  • A new parking lot.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Underground storm drainage.
  • Utilities.

The team discussed the significant number of underground utilities that had to be relocated once discovered, including the storm lines, power for this and the neighboring site, sanitary lines, and power to the nearby cell tower. In addition to the building and parking areas, the project includes 12 vehicle charging stations. These super charges will reach 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for joining us for another episode of The Perlo Podcast! You can find us on your favorite listening platforms if you’d like to hear more. You can also engage with Perlo on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.

Sustaining our growth and future means investing in and mentoring the next generation of employees. We are excited to share the stories of our 2022 Summer Interns, nine students from six schools aspiring to enter the dynamic construction industry. We were blown away by their unique perspectives, go-getter attitudes and willingness to learn. Read on to hear about their summer internship experience. 


Oregon State University

Construction Engineering Management

Levi worked primarily with our estimating department, learning preconstruction and the project bid process. Mainly working with mentor Senior Estimator Broc Van Vleet, Levi spent time recruiting subcontractors for bids, creating budgets and assisting with project estimates.

“I was surprised how upbeat everyone was here all summer; it was so cool. Of course, the work is stressful, but in such a great environment, the work was fun and motivating,” Levi expressed.

Our culture kept Levi engaged; he enjoyed building relationships, exploring different organizational methods, and learning new intercommunication skills. Levi’s takeaways were ongoing improvement of communication skills, particularly when additional direction or clarification is needed. Levi was surprised at how willing everyone was to dive in to help others, even when busy with their work.

“I thought I’d be filing papers and doing more intern-stigma-type work, but I was given real responsibility. I was willing to do whatever was asked of me, and I’d love to be an intern here again next summer.” 

Peyton worked with our general construction team with mentor and Project Manager Josh Swake. He had the unique opportunity to work in the Perlo main office and on the job site with our field teams, pointing out that most of his peers in school weren’t afforded such diverse internship experiences with other companies. 

Peyton was surprised at the role accounting plays in project management and how not all change orders and RFIs require full essays to communicate to owners. 

Peyton said of his mentor, “Josh is super organized, is awesome and showed me the process. I felt lucky to learn from him- he’s a good teacher.” In addition, Peyton felt like he was genuinely participating in the project management process and contributing to the project.

 “The culture is amazing. Perlo is just a cool, friendly, phenomenal place. I participated in all the culture events I could, like 3-on-3 basketball and trivia night; it was fun! I have never heard anyone talk negatively about Perlo. I made some good friendships and relationships.” 


Washington State University

Construction Management


Central Washington University

Construction Management

Riley worked closely with all of our Special Projects Group (SPG) members, learning from each of them across the summer. She was surprised that she was given so much responsibility, learning to communicate effectively with subcontractors, write change orders, and document projects appropriately. With a willingness to jump in and do whatever was asked, Riley had the opportunity to participate in two hard-bid projects, numerous project meetings and more. 

Riley said her favorite experience was “contributing to the bids; that’s where I feel I learned the most. It’s nice to be able to walk around and talk to people. The work can be stressful, but the culture here is so supportive. It’s an easy place to flourish and learn.”

“With my time in SPG I learned how important a paper trail is and how important it is for someone to be able to pick up right where you left off. I’ll take that tip with me everywhere I go.”

Spencer returned for his second summer internship working alongside Senior Project Manager Stephen Alger and Superintendent John Tompkins. He said his internship started fast and never slowed down, as the projects he assisted with were ever-evolving, providing many learning opportunities.

Of his mentors, Spencer said, “Stephen was busy but also available. John engaged me and wanted to help me learn. I absolutely loved seeing a concrete pour and being a part of it. I got to help process the rebar submittals and then saw the work I did come to fruition.” Additionally, Spencer helped with panel and embed layouts for a concrete tilt-up alongside John. 

Spencer commented that Perlo’s internship program improved year over year, with a significant focus on ensuring the interns had a consistent community, continuous learning environment and immersion in the company.

“All of the feedback from last summer was taken and implemented, showing how even interns have a voice.” 


Seattle University

Civil Engineering


Oregon State University

Construction Engineering Management

Working under Senior Project Manager Jacob Leighter, Zach worked in the office and on the field, expressing that he appreciated the office work more than he anticipated. He worked side by side with our project management teams and enjoyed the learning opportunities, including seeing concrete pours and panel tilts. 

Zach said that Jacob was “intentional and precisely what you would want in a mentor” and was surprised about how much time was invested in him. 

Coming to Perlo from a background as a firefighter, Zach was able to suggest resources for projects that drew on his past experiences. He expressed that people were still willing to listen when he didn’t feel he had a lot to offer. Zach said, “I learned how to take bad news and turn it into something positive or a benefit to Perlo and/or our client. Managing relationships is an art, and many people here do that well, so I’m glad to be able to listen in.”

“As an intern, I thought I’d be getting coffee for people. The culture here is so great. Everything is collaborative, so even when there are issues, a whole team is around to help. It was more of a learning environment than I ever expected.”

Aria worked primarily under Project Manager Forrest Gregg on the Vancouver Service Center project. A hands-on learner, she appreciated that so much of her work involved doing, not just watching. She learned a lot about effective communication and how to stay calm when tensions rise. “It surprised me how effective a simple phone call can be over an email.” She also noted that as the summer went on, she felt more and more comfortable speaking up and asking questions. 

Aria’s learning included change proposals, billings, safety audits, meeting minutes and more. She enjoyed the onsite visits to see concrete pours and tilt panels.

“Forrest was a great teacher. I felt like he wanted to help me understand, and honestly, we learned together at times, and he was so humble and honest. He wanted me to learn.”


University of Arizona

Construction Engineering Management


Oregon State University

Construction Engineering Management

Caden worked primarily with Senior Project Manager Jordan Peterson. A ‘great fit’ as Caden’s mentor, Jordan quizzed and tested him regularly to keep him on his toes, helping him earn his learning instead of simply giving him the answers. He also noted that the internship surprised him. “I know people who have done CEM internships and heard many horror stories. I wasn’t expecting the culture aspect – it’s so positive! It feels like I am important here.” 

With previous experience working as a laborer in the field, Caden said he enjoyed working in the office and liked it more than he thought he would. The relationships within the office while still having close interactions with the field were appealing to him. 

“One of the main skills I learned was watching Jordan and Jean lead meetings, talk to owners, discuss the projects, etc. At school, you’re pushing to please the teacher to get the grade, but it’s nice to see the real-life side of things here at the office.”

Connor spent his summer working with Senior Project Manager Drew Carter, on various project types, including an elementary school, industrial projects, and several others. Connor noted that he’s generally shy but was encouraged by Perlo to open up, try new things and come out of his shell. 

Connor spent time working with estimating and project management, completing take-offs, helping with punch list completion, change orders and more. He felt his mentor really trusted him to be involved in his projects, learn new things, and contribute. He noted that his prior experience included working for a restaurant and a shipping company, so this was a significant, positive change and eye-opening. 

Connor, we’re so glad you joined us and look forward to seeing where your career heads from here! 

“The atmosphere here makes it easy, even for someone shyer, to engage. Getting to be on the job site was great. I loved being able to talk to the subcontractors.”


Oregon State University

Mechanical Engineering


Oregon State University

Construction Engineering Management

Jimmy worked with many mentors this summer, including Senior Project Manager Jacob Leighter and Senior Estimator Broc Van Vleet, and across various project types. “The variety helped me compare projects, and it kept me on my toes all summer learning,” said Jimmy.

With time in the office, Jimmy learned the importance of effective communication via email and phone. Jimmy appreciated working with so many project managers to observe their work styles and project types. Some were more experienced, some less, and some more intense than others, and he liked all of that.

In addition, he appreciated the culture and the great perks like basketball games and the gym. 

“I learned a lot about real-world business soft skills and getting comfortable on the phone. Jacob also helped me learn to diffuse tense conversations by being respectful and knowing when to loop in someone higher up.”

Final Thoughts

Perlo has created an internship program that is a two-way street, where both interns and employers have the opportunity to learn and grow. We are grateful for the time spent with the Summer Intern class of 2022, excited about their potential, and look forward to seeing each of them thrive in the construction industry. 

If you’re interested in a future internship, watch our careers page or contact us today! 

This week we’re looking at one of our recently completed projects constructed in Hillsboro, Oregon through the developer, Trammell Crow Company, for tenant GXO, a global contract logistics company that manages outsourced supply chains and warehousing. A concrete tilt-up structure with steel decking and fully insulated, this 270,000 SF building is primarily filled with racking, offices, break rooms, restrooms and conference rooms, as well as both a walk-in cooler and freezer, and electric forklift chargers. In addition, the site includes 27 dock doors, vehicular parking, electric vehicle charging stations and a large bio-swale and landscaping.

A few challenges with construction as well as unique features, however, make this structure one to talk about!  

The AutoStore System

Perlo prepared a portion of the warehouse space to receive a robotic package picking system by AutoStore, which the owner supplied to help automate warehouse operations. This custom fulfillment system was placed under a ceiling grid and on top of an extremely flat concrete floor. The area also included a beam detection fire alarm system.  

The AutoStore system operates with small robots in an aluminum framework and can continue to work 24/7. Smaller in size than a forklift and needing no room for people to move between the racks, the storage space allowed inside this system for inventory is virtually unbeatable. The robots can move between racks and pick individual packages, and the structure can be made in any shape, form or height. According to the AutoStore website, ten of these robots use the same amount of energy as a vacuum cleaner. 

Floor Flatness and Floor Levelness

To understand the unique nature of the concrete floor that Perlo installed under the AutoStore system, it’s important to discuss what Floor Flatness (FF) and Floor Levelness (FL) really mean.

Most would say that any concrete slab inside a warehouse is flat to the naked eye. However, this isn’t necessarily true. For instance, concrete has traditionally been considered ‘flat’ if it deviates less than 1/8 over 10-feet. In 1979, a system called the Face Floor Profile Numbering System was developed, which was later formalized and adopted by ASTM and ACI. Tools were created to better measure how flat a given concrete floor actually is. The following definitions describe Floor Flatness and Floor Levelness:

Floor Levelness (FL)
Applicable to slab on grade, floor levelness is based on how closely the finished floor matches the design document’s specifications for the intended slope. Higher FL numbers indicate a more level floor.

Floor Flatness (FF)
Floor flatness measures how wavy or bumpy a floor is. Floors with higher measurements are flatter than lower measurements.

For a better representation of what these measurements equate to, see the below chart from Archtoolbox:

The GXO floor was designed to have an FF/FL of 75/75, which, according to the above chart, means it’s even more flat and level than ‘Super Flat’.

For additional reference, the American Concrete Institute has provided guidance for typical FF/FL specifications depending on the use:

Huge congratulations to our teams for achieving such a flat and level floor for GXO on this project. It’s no easy feat to achieve!

“The ownership and development teams were very receptive to proactive coordination, and we had a lot of it. They even had people fly in from out of town to walk the site and make decisions. All around, the team was great to work with. GXO, Trammell, Mildren Design Group, AAI engineering, it was a really fantastic team.”

Taylor Regier
Project Manager

Construction Challenges and Schedule

In reality, most projects in today’s climate are running into material lead times. In addition, wet weather can cause less-than-ideal working conditions and potential setbacks. Here’s how we handled some construction challenges along the way:

Weather challenges:

The full construction of the core, shell and interior build-out was completed in less than 1 year, with much of the sitework underway during the wet-weather season. The team persisted in building despite having 99 days with 1/10th of an inch or greater rainfall between August and June.  To combat these conditions, they employed a variety of techniques, including:

  • Strategic planning for concrete pours to take advantage of short weather windows
  • Use of concrete curing blankets to prevent defects in the concrete
  • The use of a schedule acceleration allowance to pay for weekend work for concrete pours
  • Installation of plywood at all window openings while waiting for the aluminum frames and glass.
Permitting challenges and solutions

Just before to the issuance of the building permit, the City of Hillsboro asked the design team to relocate the building approximately 10’ away from the property line to achieve more distance between this structure and any future structures on the neighboring property. With such late notice and preconstruction efforts well underway, the team investigated alternatives to relocating the building and landed on the installing a ‘Water Wall’ sprinkler system along the South side of the building.

What is a Water Wall? Essentially, it is fire sprinklers mounted on the exterior of the building that is triggered to engage in the event of a fire. The idea is to prevent fires from spreading between buildings. These systems are installed by the Fire Protection subcontractor and are tied into the fire alarm and electrical systems, requiring significant coordination for successful installation.

“Once again Perlo has proven they are the best in the business with their dedication and hard work on the GXO project. This project was not easy and Perlo achieved TCO quicker than anyone expected.”

Louis Fontenot
Trammell Crow Company

Materials Lead Times

As is true on most projects in today’s climate, the GXO project experienced challenges with materials lead time, with the largest problem related to the tenant required back-up generator, electrical gear and Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS). The back-up generator, in particular, continued to be delayed, and despite consistent communication with the manufacturer, it became clear that the generator would not be onsite in time to open the building.

After months of communication between the manufacturer, ownership teams, jurisdiction, design team and electrician, it was determined that we could switch to battery backup systems in order to achieve substantial completion and still provide backup power for the facility. Once the generator arrives at some point in the future, the teams will coordinate to install the ATS and backup generator.

Additionally, the electrical gear was shipping and landed in a port in Washington State, but labor challenges meant that it would not be shipped from the port to our site for an unknown length of time. Our electrical trade partner, Current Electric, acted immediately, travelled to the port, loaded the gear, and delivered it to the jobsite. Following this, they worked over a weekend to install it and received approval the following Monday. These kinds of extra efforts from our loyal trade partners help projects succeed.

Underground Clay Tile Drainage

While the site was relatively uncomplicated, the Geo report suggested that clay tile drainage systems may be present, and our teams did indeed found them. To remedy this, the team used cameras to scope the tiles to determine the extent of their locations. The excavator then completed pot-holing to allow them to be filled with grout. 

Final Thoughts

The GXO building is a testament to great project management and excellent onsite coordination despite of some less-than-ideal conditions and materials delays. The inclusion of higher-tech storage and fulfillment systems, as well as electric charging stations on the interior and exterior, help make this industrial facility anything but boring. We are grateful to the ownership, development and design teams, along with our Trade Partners, for their work with us. 

As a large part of the construction market, concrete manufacturing makes up more than $60 billion in revenue across the United States, so research is ongoing to provide the best means and methods to produce it. Perlo has been known for decades as the ‘Tilt King’ because of the immense number of concrete tilt-up projects we perform. Concrete work takes place on almost every commercial project, at least as part of the foundation work, if not as part of the entire structure. Today we explore both the art and the science of concrete.

What is concrete?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, concrete is:
“A hard, strong building material made by mixing a cementing material (such as portland cement) and a mineral aggregate (such as sand and gravel) with sufficient water to cause the cement to set and bind the entire mass.”

Importantly, there is a distinction between concrete and cement: cement is an ingredient used to make concrete, along with sand, gravel, and water.  Concrete is the finished product. 

When completed properly, concrete is a solid, strong surface or structure that forms foundations, walls, sidewalks, mezzanines, columns and a variety of other building elements or walking surfaces.  It can be decorative or functional or a combination of both. 

Unlike some building materials, once concrete is poured and cures, it’s relatively permanent.  Aside from minor patching, if concrete is not installed correctly, the process to replace it includes saw-cutting and removing the damaged area and replacing it.  This involves significant time and expense. It’s best to leave concrete work to professionals with extensive experience to avoid costly mistakes.    

The Science of Concrete

Similar to baking a loaf of bread, concrete is made up of a specific list and ratio of ingredients and mixed together into a malleable form, which then ‘bakes’ into a more solid form.  The baking in this case is actually a chemical reaction, known as ‘hydration’, which causes the cement, water and aggregate ingredients to harden and strengthen over time. The process of hardening is known as curing, and sufficient time must be provided to the concrete for it to turn into the hardened state that is desired.    

The ratio of ingredients is adjusted depending on the desired strength and finished look the concrete requires.  Let’s look at a typical ratio of ingredients:

Aggregates (sand and gravel)
60 – 75 %

15 – 20%

10 – 15%

Entrained Air
5 – 8%

These ingredients may be adjusted to hasten or slow the concrete curing process. Admixtures are chemicals or additives included in the mix to adjust the cure time in response to environmental factors.  For instance, on cold days, water might be added to the mix at a warmer temperature to keep the ingredients from freezing as the concrete cures.  Adjustments to the raw materials ratios and added chemicals are also made to increase or decrease the strength of the finished product. 

The ingredients to make concrete can be hand mixed, such as when an individual wants to use a bagged concrete, mix it with water and pour it into a fence post hole.  There are also portable concrete mixers for smaller batches of concrete that needs to be mixed onsite.  For larger commercial projects, however, the materials are typically mixed at a local batch plant, loaded onto one, or many, concrete trucks and driven to the site, where it is either dumped directly from the back of the truck, or pumped to its final location. 

Concrete Placement Types

Concrete can be mixed, poured and cured on the actual jobsite, or in an offsite manufacturing space. Let’s look at the definitions that create the distinction between these two methods:

Concrete that is placed in liquid form and cures on the actual jobsite. 

Concrete that is cast offsite at a manufacturing facility and then transported in hardened form to the site for final installation.  Pre-cast items are typically things like walls, columns, decorative pieces, wheel stops, or barriers. This can be particularly helpful in challenging climates where excessive cold, heat or moisture make pouring concrete outdoors challenging.   

What are the standards for quality of concrete?

When placing concrete for flat surfaces like a slab, contractors must consider Floor Flatness (FF) and Floor Levelness (FL).  These measurements are what helps an architect specify how flat and level the floor slab needs to be and provides a way for all parties to set expectations and then verify that those were met.  More information on these definitions and how they were developed can be found here.    

In addition, items like texture and strength play a large role in the cost and time involved in placing concrete.  Slabs, walls, footings and columns will all vary in terms of size, thickness and strength and the finished surface may appear rocky, grooved or flat and shiny.  How the finished product should look must be determined prior to pouring the concrete so that the correct method for placement can be applied.  

Structurally, the strength of the concrete mixture once it has cured must be specified. Measured in pounds per square inch, or PSI, a rating such as 3000 PSI indicates that the concrete should be able to support up to 3000 pounds per square inch before cracking or failing.  For slabs or walls that need additional strength, the mix design can be adjusted to attain a higher PSI.     

The Art of Concrete

Placement of concrete is both a science and an art. Even with so much in the way of research and science going into concrete, there is still an element of creating a great finished concrete product that involves a stroke of luck and a lot of experience. When asked how long it takes to be an expert in concrete, long time Perlo superintendent Gary Lundervold says, ‘A lifetime.  You’re always learning about concrete and how to get the best result. You have to know the science but reading a book won’t make you an expert.  You need time working with it to really start to know it.’ 

What makes concrete so difficult to know? The variables that go into placing concrete are extensive, and include but are not limited to:

  • Environmental factors such as heat, cold, wind and humidity
  • Admixtures, or the additives included to speed up or slow down the curing process
  • Condition of the subgrade
  • Geographical location
  • Available crew size
  • Available concrete supply
  • Specified thickness and strength

In addition to the concrete itself, there are several entities involved in properly placing and finishing concrete:

Engineering consultant: providing subgrade and reinforcing design

Geotechnical engineer: verifying grades and compaction of subgrade

Special Inspectors: providing testing and reporting to owner and local jurisdiction

Excavation: Proper preparation and grading of the surface where concrete is to be placed

Rebar fabrication and installation: providing materials and installation of the reinforcing steel inside the slab

Concrete supplier: providing the raw materials and transportation to the site

Concrete pumping: providing equipment and manpower to operate the pump that delivers concrete from the truck to the final placement location

Placement, finishing and curing: includes the form work, placement and finishing to desired finished product

Coordination of so many parties involves an extensive amount of planning ahead of time, and supervision by an experienced superintendent to adjust as needed to in-the-moment circumstances.  While the pre-planning is extensive, we can’t ultimately control things like the weather, traffic or suppliers, and all those factors can lead to calling off a concrete pour within hours or even in the middle of placing concrete.

Once concrete is poured and finished, there are still several steps that require expertise to achieve a quality finished product. For instance, slab joints are cut into the concrete following the pour.  This work is risky in that if it’s done too early or too late, problems can arise.  Additionally, the curing process needs to be controlled so that the concrete doesn’t set up too quickly or too slowly.  Heating blankets and cooling blankets in addition to the utilization of hot water, cold water, or water baths are used to help control the temperature of the slab as it cures.

With such a wide variety of variables involved in the process, every concrete pour will be different from the last, even if only slightly.  This is where the trade becomes less of a science and more of an art.

Concrete over Time

Concrete does require some maintenance to remain solid over time, particularly if it is exposed to abrasive materials, forklifts or vehicular traffic, or freezing weather. It’s critical to keep debris out of the slab joints.  When wheeled forklifts or automobiles drive over slab joints with debris inside, it can cause the joints to deteriorate.  While these can be repaired when small, if neglected they can cause significant damage that requires cutting out and replacing large sections of slab.

Damaged control joint
Repaired control joint

Similarly, tilt walls should be maintained if they are to be expected to last for decades.  Re-caulking the panel joints and re-painting buildings at approximately 5 year intervals and repairing any cracks that may occur will increase the lifespan of the concrete.

Final Thoughts
This blog simply brushes the surface of the intricacies of concrete and the complexity involved in the process of producing a quality product. If you’re contemplating concrete work for your commercial building, we encourage you to call our experienced team members to discuss your options and how we can help you.

In today’s construction industry, reducing energy consumption continues to gain popularity as both a guiding vision and a goal. Renewable energy and the incorporation of green construction are increasingly familiar tools to help improve buildings’ sustainability and resiliency. We recently sat down with Amy Haddox, an outreach manager for Energy Trust’s New Buildings Program, to learn more about Energy Trust and how their work is helping to keep energy costs as low as possible, create jobs and build a sustainable energy future for over 2 million utility customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

What is Energy Trust of Oregon?

Energy Trust is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Energy Trust provides services, cash incentives and energy solutions to help participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas and Avista save more than $4.6 billion on energy bills. Energy Trust is funded by the Public Purpose Charge that you see on your utility bill, which helps fund energy conservation in a wide range of buildings and projects throughout Oregon. They work closely with a variety of participating utilities and other government agencies, to serve the public with the best possible energy solutions.

How Does it Work?

Energy Trust is a valuable resource for architects, engineers, builders and designers working on new construction and major renovation projects, tenant improvements, additions, expansions and more. We learned about the ins and outs of Energy Trust and how they can help by talking to Amy, who is responsible for coordinating various major renovation projects and ensuring customers are able to access the financial incentives available to them.

The New Buildings program provides incentives for commercial projects, as well as technical guidance to help incorporate energy-efficient measures into new buildings or renovation projects. A variety of commercial equipment types are also eligible for cash incentives, including HVAC, lighting, water heating equipment, commercial cooking equipment and more.

According to Amy, Energy Trust is working to dispel the myth that receiving cash incentives is complicated. One great place to start is to hold an early design assistance (EDA) meeting. Meeting with an Energy Trust outreach manager, at no charge, can help with establishing a baseline energy use intensity (EUI) target and determining strategies to achieve the EUI target. An EDA also helps your team gain a better understanding of the cost-effectiveness and financial feasibility of improved energy efficiency—and how Energy Trust cash incentives can help you achieve your goals.

Amy also explained how cash incentives and technical support make it easier and more affordable to include solar or solar-ready design. When you meet with an Energy Trust Solar Trade Ally early in the design process, they can analyze your project and provide a solar development assistance study, along with projected power generation and savings figures.

What Projects Qualify?

When completing a large project, tenant improvement, renovation or equipment replacement, you may be eligible for incentives. By working with Energy Trust, project teams can receive both Energy Trust cash incentives and long-term energy savings for building operation, so there are significant benefits to enroll. Upfront energy modeling is one example of technical assistance that’s extremely helpful for smaller businesses or nonprofits without a large budget, or with a sharper focus on cutting energy costs. Available incentives for energy modeling mean that Energy Trust could pay up to 60% of modeling fees and half of commissioning and metering costs (not to exceed $40,000).

There are also opportunities to aim for even higher levels of efficiency. Net-zero buildings have the potential to create as much energy as they consume over the course of each year. Energy Trust’s Path to Net Zero provides a structured approach that helps guide builders to achieve the highest level of savings possible.

Case Study Example

Meyer Memorial Trust, an Oregon foundation working to accelerate racial, social and economic justice for the collective well-being of Oregon’s lands and peoples, recently worked with Energy Trust to build a new headquarters. Meyer chose to relocate to the Albina neighborhood—the historic heart of Portland’s Black community—and sought to be closer to many of the organizations it supports. The project utilized Energy Trust cash incentives and technical support, including EDA, solar development, energy modeling and daylighting technical assistance through Path to Net Zero. In the end, Energy Trust provided $97,000 in cash incentives and the building will reap an estimated $13,000 in annual energy cost savings.

Final Thoughts

We want to extend a big thank you to Amy Haddox for providing us with valuable information for this article. Working with Energy Trust can help your project team benefit from a wide variety of generous incentives and expert technical support and other resources—make sure to visit their website to learn more!

For more information about Energy Trust and the New Buildings program, visit

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

Welcome to Episode 9 of the Perlo Podcast! Podcast host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by two guests from Advanced American Construction: Dee Burch, President, and Kyle Izatt, Senior Vice President. In today’s podcast, we’ll be diving into the Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund, how it started, and everything it has to offer.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Dee Burch
President, Advanced American
Kyle Izatt
Senior Vice President, Advanced American


Advanced American Construction was founded in 1983 by Konrad Schweiger and Kent Cochran with a goal to start “a legacy of success in marine construction.” Forrest Schweiger, son of Konrad and Cindy Schweiger, was working for the company and, in 1999 at the age of 26, lost his life in a tragic construction accident. As the only son of Konrad and his wife, the team at Advanced American Construction put their heads together to discuss how they could make something good come out of such a tragic event.

To honor Forrest, Advanced American Construction formed the Forrest L. Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund. Dee Burch, President of Advanced American Construction, remarks that they formed the program with no prior experience and were shocked by how quickly the community stepped up to help.

After three years and about $25,000 in scholarships given out, Konrad Schweiger passed away unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. The name was then changed to Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund to commemorate both Forrest and Konrad. Advanced American doubled down on making the scholarship successful, and again experienced unbelievable support from the community.

General Overview

The Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund provides “annual scholarships to applicants looking to pursue careers in construction-related fields.” From students looking for a career in construction to trades workers pursuing an apprenticeship program, this fund aims to provide the necessary support to help individuals succeed in the construction industry. Over the last 22 years, the fund has awarded over 260 scholarships totaling more than $850,000.

Kyle Izatt, one of the very first scholarship winners and the now Senior Vice President of Advanced American Construction, recalls being a freshman going into his sophomore year at Central Washington University in the Construction Management undergraduate program. “I remember it as clear as yesterday,” he remarks. “We were at the Monarch Hotel, and you couldn’t count the people in the audience, even though it was a smaller audience than what it is today. Business partners, subs, suppliers, competitors, the unions, friends, colleagues, and a lot of Konrad and Cindy’s friends and family came to support. I was hit with this momentum and the bare roots of what our industry is. It’s giving back, it’s helping, it’s building people up.”

After graduating and continuing to attend the scholarship’s banquet dinners, Kyle started giving back to the program that gave him so much to get him started in his career. Kyle was the first recipient that contributed back to the scholarship and, according to Dee, this triggered something in him to get Kyle to join Advanced American Construction. In 2005, Kyle went to work for Advanced American Construction and transitioned onto the selection committee where, 23 years later, he believes it is their obligation to be a part of the Fund and come up with new ideas to keep building up the program and supporting as many individuals as possible.

“We have a lot of momentum going into the next couple of years and I’m really excited about where the future of this can go. The opportunities are endless, there is no ceiling,”

Benefits of The Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund

According to Elissa, one of the unique aspects of the program is that it’s not just about the money. Although it does come with the financial support, applicants also have the opportunity to make lasting industry connections, gain hands-on career development, and indicate potential interest in internships. Here at Perlo Construction, we had the pleasure of connecting with a scholarship recipient last year that went on to intern at Perlo this summer and even won the scholarship again this year.

This program, however, is not just for students. Advanced American Construction has always advocated that if you’re going to a trade school or going into the craft, this a scholarship you can apply for. “Believe it or not, it’s really difficult to get people to apply for scholarships,” explains Dee. “We put a lot of effort into educating people that it’s not just union apprentices, but non-union apprentices that can apply as well.” This year, 5 out of the 15 scholarship winners were apprentices, and the 2 of the top 3 winners were apprentices. According to Dee, that statistic is unprecedented, and is something he thinks is the key to unlocking other avenues and expanding the scholarship further to aid people in other fields in the construction industry.

Elissa notes that although people generally understand how challenging it can be for students to get through school financially, it is less understood how challenging it is for people starting out in the trades, especially when apprentices are working and making money. In reality, apprentices have about four weeks a year where they attend school for their trade unpaid. On top of the cost for various certifications, they are also required to find projects where apprentices are accepted, which aren’t always common. Therefore, apprentices must travel extensively throughout the region to find work, often having to deal with short-term housing and travel costs. Dee states that “going through an apprenticeship program can be incredibly challenging, but apprentices are the future.”

What Metrics Are Important to Succeed?

Uniquely, the Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund puts the most emphasis on the individual and what they can achieve, bring to the table, and how they can contribute. This program is not about who has the highest grades, but about giving back to those who need a helping hand and the support to progress in their careers. Increasingly, there is a diverse group of applicants and students with different histories and backgrounds. The number of recipients who have stayed the course of the scholarship program and have gone on to achieve incredible success is a testament to the people that believed in them and supported them throughout their journeys.

Final Thoughts

The Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund is a great opportunity for both union apprentices and college students pursing engineering degrees with the intention to join the construction industry. A big thank you to Dee Burch and Kyle Izatt for sitting down with us to discuss the Fund and all it has to offer!

Looking for more information on the Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund? Be sure to visit Advanced American Construction at

Constructability is a term used within the construction community and is defined in different ways depending on your source. The Law Insider has two definitions that ring true to our understanding of the term:

Definition 1
The creative, organized process of reviewing a project’s drawings, specifications and other project documentation with a goal of eliminating design, detailing, and specification problems which might render the construction contract documents unbuildable or requiring extensive Addenda or Change Orders to make them buildable.

Definition 2
Review of design and construction documents by an expert in construction to advise on feasibility, practicality and effectiveness of the proposed construction methods, materials, and process.

A constructability review, or rather, a series of them, are generally completed during the preconstruction process of any given project, with teams reviewing a number of factors to determine whether the project is designed in the most appropriate manner to meet cost, functional goals, and schedule.

Contractor Responsibilities for Constructability Reviews

When an owner utilizes a procurement strategy that involves a contractor during the initial design development stages, such as with a negotiated design-build or GMP contract model, the team has the opportunity to provide constructability feedback. This is in contrast to a Design-Bid-Build model, in which the design team completes construction documents ahead of contractor involvement that limits a contractor’s ability to review the documents and provide constructability feedback.

During the design development phase, the general contractor and design teams are responsible for reviewing documents at each stage of design document issuance and contributing their knowledge in assessing many factors. First and foremost, these reviews must consider the design as it relates to the owner’s end goals to ensure that they match.

Additionally, these reviews may include the evaluation of:

  • Materials use
  • Construction timing and its impact to existing conditions
  • Site logistics
  • Temporary shoring/bracing that may be required
  • Phasing strategies to optimize the schedule
  • Subcontractor recruitment strategies
  • Equipment clearances required
  • Test fitting building enhancements against project cost and schedule
  • End-user needs
  • Local building code restrictions
  • Environmental concerns, such as displacement of local wildlife
  • Sustainability goals

Contractors should review the design drawings to ensure that what is written in ink translates to a building that meets the needs of the owner in terms of schedule, price, function, and sustainability. Their findings must be transparent and communicated to all team members so that designs can be modified.

How is Constructability Communicated?

Communicating items that are noted during a constructability review may be achieved in several ways:

  • Red-lined drawings with proposed changes noted and/or described in a narrative
  • Alternate line items in updated budget documents that note the cost impacts for suggested changes compared to the design documents
  • Formal Request for Information (RFI) documents suggesting changes or clarifications to the work.

It is advisable that proposed changes be reviewed either in-person or through virtual meetings to discuss identified items, proposed changes and the path forward. Ideally, a log or meeting minutes are maintained to document changes over time, which serves as both a historic record of changes as well as reference point to keep the team moving forward on a single path.

Is Constructability an Art or a Science?

Efficient construction projects are built on a foundation of consistent processes, but constructability is more of an art than a science. It combines solid research with past experience and future planning to truly identify possible efficiencies or problems. To truly look at constructability, the project team must be able to plan out each step of the building process to evaluate a wide variety of factors, for example:

  • Does the site allow for proper clearances to erect tilt wall panels or steel members?
  • Can a mobile crane be utilized for picking materials or is a tower crane more appropriate?
  • Are existing building components going to hinder the installation of new components and if so, what alternative materials can be used instead?
  • How do we transition from the various material finishes?
  • Will the proposed products arrive in time to meet the project schedule?
  • Will the exterior finishes hold up to the local weather conditions over time?
  • Are there alternative materials that meet the intent of the design that are more sustainable?
  • What phasing will be required to keep the building occupied?
  • Are there faster means of installing the same product?
  • Can certain building scopes be self-performed instead of hired out?
  • What equipment, like scaffolding, can be erected to speed installations, and can that equipment be shared by multiple trades?

Many of these examples can be researched to find solutions, but the best path forward often comes from reviewing past experience, talking with trade partners about lead times or availability, and discussing building phasing with end-users. Additionally, to really dig into constructability, the team reviewing the drawings must understand not only the individual components, but also the function of those components to the structure and/or end user. Some items may be required by code and are therefore unable to be substituted. Some may cost more than alternative materials but have a much longer anticipated life span.

Much of a constructability review hinges on how all of the components will fit together in the order of operations for construction. For instance, a review of the building site layout or the function of an existing space may lend itself to pre-fabricating certain building components offsite. Alternatively, pre-fabrication options should be evaluated against onsite construction methods. These evaluations assist in finding the most efficient solutions for time, cost, sustainability, and quality.

The Key to Constructability

The most important factor in constructability reviews is to have the general contractor on board prior to the completion of design. Ideally, the contractor is added to the team at the conceptual phase of design and assists through completion. While these reviews can, and often do, take place after a hard bid, the general contracting team can typically do little to influence the schedule and cost of the work without having the opportunity to lend their knowledge during the design process.

Construction is best completed when all parties – the owner, design team, end-user and contractor – approach it as a team, seeking to meet the owner’s goals while optimizing cost, schedule, aesthetics, sustainability, and minimizing disruptions to the surrounding neighborhood and/or building users.

If you have a building concept in mind and what to discuss it further, please contact us today!

Our physical spaces, whether our homes or our work-places, generally require the services of a general contractor during initial construction, for repairs, remodels or adaptive reuse purposes at some point in the property’s life cycle. The complexity of the project often dictates how an owner proceeds with contractual agreements for their contractor and design teams. It is important for an owner to consider what type of agreement they want with their construction teams before embarking on the project itself. 

According to the Design Build Institute of America, “Project Delivery is a comprehensive process including planning, design and construction required to execute and complete a building facility or other type of project.”

There are a variety of delivery methods that can be used to engage design and construction teams, depending on an owner’s risk tolerance and relationship with its team members. 

The most common methods for project delivery include:

  • Design-Bid-Build (DBB)
  • Design-Build (DB)
  • Construction Management at Risk, also known as CM/GC
  • Progressive Design-Build (PDB)
  • Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)

Today, we will explore each of these delivery methods as they relate to non-residential construction in the United States. 


Perhaps the most common delivery method in the US, the Design-Bid-Build (DBB) method of construction consists of an owner having the design completed, then bidding the work to contractors and subsequently completing construction of the building. The contractor is rarely involved prior to the bid stage of the work, and their contract with this method tends to be a fixed price agreement.

Typically, the owner has separate contracts with the design team and contractor. This method is commonly used when an owner desires to achieve the ‘lowest price’ bid from several general contractors and is common in public works projects. Owners are often unaware that other options exist to find a good general contractor that will complete the work for a fair market price through other contractual arrangements. 

Unfortunately, the DBB method can present conflicts down the road. In this contractual arrangement, contractors are to bid the work only as shown on the drawings. If information is missing from those drawings, the contractor has the right to send a change order to the owner for any additional work. This can contribute to feelings of ill will between team members, as the design team and the contractor may disagree about what justifies a change in cost.  

To develop a more cooperative relationship, let’s explore the Design-Build delivery method.


The Design-Build (DB) delivery model means that the owner hires the design and construction teams under a single contract. In this way, the design and construction teams act cooperatively to achieve the best result for the owner, often with the goal of fast-tracking design and construction timelines. The owner generally provides performance standards to the team, who then work to find the best means and methods to achieve those standards within a given budget.

Working closely together, both the designer and contractor can ensure that what is designed is feasible from both a cost and constructability standpoint. The contractor is involved before designs even begin, helping to develop clear expectations and analyze building structure types, components, and finishes with the design teams. 

In this case, the liability of the construction process is shared between the designer and contractor, forcing them to find reasonable methods of resolving issues that may arise.

The Design-Build method of project delivery helps speed the process of procurement. Bid packages are often issued in phases, such as site work, followed by structure and building envelope, and then finishes. At each point in the process, the GC can ensure that costs meet budget. In addition, project specific contingencies to help the owner mitigate risk can be established so that change orders are minimized.

It’s important to note that it is possible to foster a relationship very like a design-build approach without the design and construction teams signing a single contract. If the owner wishes to engage these teams early in their process, a good general contractor and design team can easily approach a project with this cooperative spirit, even when they sign separate contracts. 

This leads us to our next delivery model, the Construction Manager at Risk, or CM/GC.  

Construction Manager At Risk (CM/GC)

In this delivery model, the owner signs a contract directly with the designer, and separately with the general contractor.  The general contractor and designer are brought to the team around the same time so that the team can approach the project from a target-value-design standpoint; that is, they know what the target cost is, and design the project to meet that threshold while maintaining quality. The time to deliver the project is typically much faster than the DBB model and can be fast-tracked similarly to the Design-build method.

Depending on the team members involved, this method can lead to disagreements between designer and contractor, because they have separate contracts and the owner is between them making decisions. However, in our experience this method generates camaraderie between the design and construction teams, and allows the owner to achieve a finished product that meets their needs.

In a CM/GC model, contracts are often a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), which means that the contract is based on completing the entire project at or below an agreed upon price, and that will only increase if the owner changes the scope.  The price generally includes contingencies for unforeseen circumstances, to accommodate weather delays or capture the risk of site work.  With contingencies in place, contractors have the ability to utilize funds already set aside for certain purposes, instead of sending through an owner change order to increase the project cost. 

With a strong general contractor as part of the team, an owner can be confident that the final price of their project will match what was agreed to when the contract was signed.

Progressive Design-Bid-Build

Gaining in popularity, the Progressive Design-Build (PDB) method is almost a hybrid between Design-Build and CM/GC. In this case, the general contractor and design teams are still under a single contract, but they are brought into the development process even earlier than is typical. Importantly, this method usually involves awarding the contract to the contractor and design teams based solely on qualifications. As designs progress to a set of drawings that is 50 – 75% complete, the team establishes a Guaranteed Maximum Price for the work.

The advantage of this option for delivery method is that the owner has the team involved very early in the process, and still takes on the lowered risk of contracting with a single entity. 

Integrated Project Delivery

The American Institute of Architects defines the Integrated Project Delivery Model as “a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.”

This method is highly collaborative between the owner, end-users, design teams, general contractor and main subcontractors, often with construction beginning long before final designs are complete. Contractual arrangements between parties vary, and may include the owner contracting directly with the designer, GC, specialty subcontractors, etc. Decision makers on the front end of the design typically include all parties that will be involved in the design, construction and end-use of the building. 

The IPD Model is relatively new to the United States, but is starting to gain momentum. Proponents see it as a way to create buildings with less waste and better sustainability over time, increased energy efficiency, faster speed to market and lower costs to maintain. In addition, the involvement of the end users, including tenants and building engineers, reduces the changes that may be requested following project completion.


This is a brief overview of common project delivery types. An owner’s choice of which to use should be carefully evaluated based on the goals for the project and their preferred communications strategies. Each one offers varied levels of required owner engagement, timing for onboarding design and construction team members, and speed to market. 

If you’re considering a project, our teams are well versed in the options available during preconstruction and the pros and cons of each as they might relate to your needs. Reach out here if you would like to discuss your options. 

Construction sites can have significant impacts on the environment. However, there are numerous legislations established across the United States that serve to protect plant and animal species as well as the habitats and resources they rely on. Construction teams take great measures both on and offsite to minimize the impacts of building on our environment and wildlife. With early planning and innovative strategies, we can take the right steps to understand a project’s geographic surroundings, how to best mitigate potential impacts, and promote sustainability in construction.

There are many different types of regulations in place that serve to protect the environment and ensure that every construction project accounts for potential environmental impacts. While these may seem difficult to navigate, there are a few techniques you can follow to allow your project to protect and preserve nature and wildlife on construction sites while still delivering a high-quality building. Today, we’ll be exploring what kind of disturbances are possible as well as the techniques you can use to avoid them.

Defining Onsite Impacts vs. Offsite Impacts 

Onsite impacts to wildlife are directly correlated to the activities that are done on a construction site. According to The United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Action Areas” are defined as “all areas to be affected directly or indirectly by the federal action and not merely the immediate area involved in the action.” These action areas include the following:

  • Areas on a site where excavation, site development, or other ground disturbance activities occur
  • Any areas where stormwater flows, including into a ditch, swale, or gully that leads to open or receiving waters

Additional onsite impacts also include road construction, soil contamination, waste management, clearing of vegetation, excavation practices, and energy usage.

Offsite impacts are less direct, but still create a chain reaction of environmental impacts. A few include:

  • Air, land, and water pollution
  • Light pollution
  • Noise disturbances
  • Subsequent building such as road construction, service towers, etc.

Mitigation Strategies

There are a number of strategies and techniques to follow to minimize the impact of construction projects on the environment.

1. Site Logistics

Planning site logistics before a project takes place can help project teams identify areas where protected species of wildlife may reside. Site logistics can be thought of as the foundation that sets up an efficient and safe construction site and involve factors such as material storage, traffic and equipment access, and waste management.

Considering these factors in advance creates a smoother process for dealing with wildlife preservation by planning for construction waste relocation, eliminating any need for rework, and lowering the carbon footprint of a construction project.

Site logistics are a large factor when preserving wildlife, especially when near a wetland. Joe York, General Superintendent at Perlo, explains that building near wetlands requires intensive planning of wastewater management. Project teams are unable to discharge any water from the site due to the proximity of wetland areas and ensuring that the wildlife inside the wetland areas is not affected. Teams are required to plan for factors such as erosion control, turbidity levels, and pH levels by utilizing silt fences and other special equipment to treat turbidity and pH levels from site modifications such as cement treatment.

2. Special Building Features

Special construction features can greatly benefit both the environment and project teams by allowing teams to adapt to geographic needs and save a project time and money in the long run. One way to do this is by incorporating concrete features that protect wildlife, such as concrete benches.

One recently completed Perlo project, Marrion Elementary School, utilized this tactic in a significant way. The erection of the brand-new elementary school was a huge turning point for the local community. A large factor in this project was preserving the school’s “tree of life”, a historic community landmark located on the front of the campus. While there were many ways to accomplish this, project teams ultimately built a concrete bench around the tree and took great lengths not to damage the tree or its roots. The bench now stands to protect the entire tree and encourages students to learn about the history of the community.

3. Using Landscaping to Your Advantage

Although natural habitats are being impacted as urban development continues to rise, construction teams can use landscaping to their advantage, leaving a lasting positive effect on the site in question. One recent Perlo project in Eureka, California ran into difficulty when having to preserve a specific “weed of interest”. Project teams were not allowed to tamper with the specified weed, and therefore had to find innovative ways work around it.

Soft landscaping is a term used to “describe the process of working with natural materials and other landscape elements that do not involve construction.” These elements often include turf, trees, hedges, shrubs, and other natural landscaping features, and can serve to increase biodiversity, create a habitat for wildlife to rely on, and minimize erosion. Additionally, grasses, shrubs, and trees are immensely effective at converting CO2 to oxygen, lessening the impact of emissions on construction sites.

Trees also have the ability to stabilize ground conditions with their root systems and provide shade for wildlife, on top of acting as a “sponge” to absorb groundwater and slow the movement of rainwater. This is a major reason why many construction sites require that trees and their roots aren’t disturbed during building.

4. Develop Designated Animal Crossing Routes

One way to preserve wildlife is by utilizing barriers along curbs, which can help small animals avoid falling in sewer grates, provide a hiding spot from high-traffic areas, and allow them to continue their path safely and without disturbance.

Many animals migrate long distances and must cross dangerous roadways. One study even shows that roads affect roughly 20% of the land area in the United States. With subsequent construction such as building or expanding roadways, creating a clear path to safety for wildlife is essential, especially in areas where wildlife is less accustomed to traffic. “In the United States alone, these collisions were estimated to cause 211 human fatalities, 29,000 human injuries and over $1 billion in property damage annually,” says the US Department of Transportation.

5. LEED Certification and Using Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is defined as “energy produced from sources like the sun and wind that are naturally replenished and do not run out.” Using renewable energy reduces a number of threats to the environment, from avoiding toxic wastewater to minimizing waste onsite by salvaging building materials.

Many projects now strive for LEED certification, a distinction gained by maintaining open spaces and protecting natural habitat, building structures that minimize or eliminate harmful chemicals for users of the building, providing access to fresh air and natural light, and more. One large factor in receiving LEED certification is reducing light pollution. Whether aimed to illuminate a façade or reflected off a surface, light can greatly affect wildlife such as sea turtles, which are impacted by the artificial “glow”. Solutions to this issue vary by project, but generally include creating a “shield” to block the light, eliminating fixtures with little or no glare control, and eliminating unnecessary light fixtures.

Final Thoughts

With careful planning and innovative building strategies, construction can allow wildlife and humans to coexist peacefully. As the construction industry continues to grow, it is important to take steps toward reducing the impact that construction has on wildlife, their habitats, and the environment as a whole.

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

Welcome back to Episode 8 of the Perlo Podcast! Podcast host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Devin Koopman, Vice President of Construction, and Joe York, General Superintendent. In today’s podcast, we’re going to explore site logistics in construction, which are a critical piece of the planning and execution of construction sites.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Devin Koopman
Vice President of Construction Services
Joe York
General Superintendent

What are Site Logistics

Site logistics can be thought of as the foundation that sets up an efficient and safe construction site while making the process easy and keeping the project on schedule. It involves factors such as:

  • How crews move around the site
  • Where materials are stored
  • Where signage should be located
  • How traffic and equipment can efficiently move in and out of the site
  • How to keep crews and visitors safe
  • Where to locate job trailers

Devin notes that schedule logistics are rarely shown in the drawings and often don’t get as much attention as they require. It is critical to be proactive and consider all items of a project when planning site logistics. Preconstruction efforts are the “recipe” for an effective project. When preconstruction takes place, we look at the current plan and drawings for the current site logistics and try to understand what the end result will be. Logistics range from job to job and are a huge factor in a successful project outcome.

When considering the current climate of supply chain issues and long lead times, it may be necessary to procure materials early. In this case, project teams must be able to purchase or lease extra land offsite to hold materials. Joe explains that our teams have had to get creative and think outside of the box to find additional storage area for materials.

Elissa adds that having space for materials shortage has become a much bigger factor in today’s day and age, as companies aren’t able to get “just-in-time” delivery if they want to guarantee that they will receive the materials on time.

“The fact is that there aren’t as many large lots for people to develop anymore,” remarks Joe. He elaborates that because of this, it can be difficult to find space to lay down materials, park trucks and trailers, and actually build the building. According to Joe, “if you can’t get a neighboring property to make your footprint larger for the build, you’ve got to get creative.” Planning ahead for these aspects of a project gives teams more opportunity to be innovative when utilizing space and being proactive when addressing potential issues.

How Do We Use Site Logistics to Create Efficiencies on Jobsites?

Devin uses an example about concrete to answer this question, noting that here at Perlo, “we like to pour concrete, and we like to pour a lot of it.” He goes on to explain that often times, our teams conduct concrete pours at 2AM to maximize efficiencies. Early morning pours are great, according to Joe, because there is no traffic and the concrete gets poured before the weather gets too hot in the summertime. When there are anywhere from 50-70 trucks expected to come and go from your project with concrete at a dark hour, site logistics become that much more important. Factors to be considered can range from how to get the trucks in and out to where the pump trucks need to be staged and even accommodating for residential neighborhood time restrictions. “Time is money, so you need to get them in and off your site as quickly as possible,” explains Devin.

One way to accomplish this is with directional signage, especially when dealing with third-party companies that may not be as familiar with the site as the project team. Elissa adds that a big part of site logistics includes the process during emergencies. It is crucial, and even lifesaving, to ensure that emergency vehicles have proper access to and from the site, with clear access routes and individuals available to wave them down.

Joe agrees, and remarks that orientation of a project always includes information on where crews should meet in the case of emergency, where emergency vehicles can access the site, and other important logistics.

How Do Jurisdictions Affect Site Logistics Plans?

Between jurisdictions ranging from federal, state, county, city, and even local neighborhood associations, site logistics plans can vary astronomically. One of the biggest variances is in regard to permitting. Certain jurisdictions may not inspect the same items that project teams are accustomed to in the Portland Metro Area. There is often a steep learning curve to understand what a specific jurisdiction requires and what works on a given site.

Joe gives an example of a project in Eureka, California, that restricted the altering of any land with a specific “weed of interest”. On a similar project in Sacramento, California, crews had to get trained up on how to deal with protected animals on the jobsite, such as lizards. And on another project, teams even dealt with planning around migrating turtles. These examples just go to show that there are factors that simply can’t be planned until you understand the geographical area that your jobsite is on, and enforces why project teams need to stay on their toes and keep an open mind and backup plan handy.

“What makes sense on day one might not make sense on day 60.”

Do Site Logistics Plans Change Throughout the Project?

According to Devin, site logistics can be like a football game. To have a successful site logistics plan, you need to “call audibles”. Calling an audible in football refers to when the play is changed at the line of scrimmage by yelling out a new play. “The fact that you may be digging a utility trench for the electrician on the same day as your concrete pour means you’ve really got to roll with the punches.” explains Devin.

Manpower Loading and Site Logistics

We quickly backtrack to site efficiencies, specifically related to trailer placement, crew parking, access to the building, and how all of those factors tie into crew efficiencies. Joe notes that it all ties back to working the job backward. When thinking about tenant improvements, the ability to find milestones in the schedule and make a plan of logistical attack can help avoid stacking trades on top of one another and creates ease of scheduling subcontractors.

Although site logistics may have gotten more complicated with COVID-19, Joe remarks, “I think it gave us insight on how we can do better.”

Final Thoughts

Site logistics in construction are critical to a successful construction project and an enjoyable experience. There is a fine balance between preplanning, being proactive, and adapting on the fly, and site logistics give you the best opportunity to do just that. A big thank you to Joe York and Devin Koopman for their insight on today’s topic! Make sure to subscribe to The Perlo Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

The construction industry continues to be a huge source of high-wage jobs with over 10 million employees in the US alone. Careers in construction offer stability, room for advancement, and opportunities to work with new technology, among other benefits. With avenues comprising of both traditional and non-traditional jobs, the construction industry is growing and vibrant. The pathway to the construction field is not a “one-stop shop”. There are many different routes an individual can take to find success in this industry, from higher education programs and apprenticeships to falling into the industry unexpectedly. Today, we’re going to take a look at the different career paths to success in the construction field and hear from Bonnie Pillster, Subcontractor Relations Manager and Insurance Coordinator at Perlo Construction, about her path to success.

Opportunities in Construction

There are many different opportunities to advance within the construction industry, with a given business organization employing a wide ranging of positions from support staff and union laborers/craftspeople to upper management and potentially ownership.

As we outlined in our blog regarding finding purpose at work, a unique aspect of construction is that individuals with a variety of skillsets can be involved. A single general contracting firm like Perlo, for instance, employs many positions, which range from entry level to highly educated, such as:

  • Site Supervision
  • Carpentry
  • Warehouse Management
  • Site Superintendent
  • Laborer
  • Legal/Risk Management
  • Safety Management
  • Human Resources

Pathways to the Construction Field

While pathways can vary depending on the individual, we typically see people finding the construction industry through trade apprenticeships, higher education programs related to Engineering or Construction Engineering Management (CEM) or other management studies, and even by accident. For example, Bonnie describes her path to the construction field as something she fell into.

“I got into construction because my dad was in construction. I moved to Oregon to spend the summer with him, and he got me a job doing material procurement as a laborer in the labor union. Long story short, I never left.”

With the different sectors in the construction industry (residential housing construction, specialized industrial construction, institutional and commercial building, and infrastructure/heavy construction), it is no wonder that the possibilities are endless, and, that the avenues to get there are, too. Below are a few of the more common pathways to the success in the construction field:


A degree isn’t necessary or required for many roles in construction. Apprenticeships are great opportunities for those over the age of 16 that are looking for direct experience in the trades. Apprenticeships typically last between 1-4 years and consist of about 20% of your time in school and the other 80% on the job (while getting paid and receiving mentorship from an expert). This is a great alternative to higher education paths and provides a hands-on learning environment and certification as tradesperson.

There are also studies being done that show that union apprenticeships provide a more diverse construction industry, “showing not only do unions train more than 70% of all apprentices, but union apprenticeship programs were also significantly more diverse, and had much higher graduation rates for women and workers of color. Union apprenticeship programs were also far more successful placing workers into higher-paying jobs within the construction industry.”

Higher Education

The higher education pathway is one that has become increasingly popular with institutions putting a more significant focus on preparing students for in-demand careers, including those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). This option is typically chosen by those who want to go into management in the construction industry. Degree programs such as Construction Engineering Management (CEM) and Construction Technology are great options for those who want to advance in their careers. However, with the construction industry growing and many different job sectors becoming accessible, we are also seeing an influx of individuals with backgrounds in architecture, accounting, marketing/general business, and more.

Progress Up the Hierarchy

Reports show that the majority of people who are entering the construction industry are those who want to be there and see a future in their work. Progressing up the hierarchy is a common pathway to success in the industry for those who aren’t afraid of being flexible and putting in the work. Bonnie explains that she never considered specific paths in the industry, because the environment was changing so constantly that new opportunities were always opening up.

“After my first job doing material procurement, I was asked to be an escort driver at Portland International Airport. This meant I was responsible for escorting in subcontractors, deliveries, and other personnel down the airway to the airplanes. I later became an office manager at another PNW-based general contractor, which allowed me to come out of the field and become a salaried employee in the office,” says Bonnie.

“From there, I was asked to join the purchasing department where I would issue contracts, work with insurance, and oversee CCIP and OCIP. I then found myself at Perlo Construction, where I was asked by Devin Koopman, Perlo’s Vice President of Construction, “if there was one job you could create for yourself, what would it be?” I created the Subcontractor Relations Manager role at Perlo, before seeing a need in the insurance department and transitioning to where I am now.”

Important Skills to Progress in Construction

No matter which pathway you take into the construction industry, there are a few key skills that will lead you to success in your chosen field.


Succeeding in a construction career, let alone any career, requires a knack for communicating with your team members, clients, suppliers, leaders, and more. When we asked Bonnie what the most crucial skill to succeed in a construction career is, the answer was none other than “communication”.

“One of the things I liked when I first started in the labor union was going from project to project and constantly meeting new people. While being in the office is a bit different, I still enjoy communicating with different teams, departments, and projects,” remarks Bonnie.

Flexibility and openness to new ideas

Technology and demand in the construction industry are changing at exponential rates, so it is important to be flexible and adapt to different environments and needs.

“Be open to opportunities in different roles, because you never know where you might land,” suggests Bonnie. “Especially in an ever-changing environment, it’s important to be a universal employee.”


There are many different problems that can arise on a given construction project, such as weather delays, supply chain material shortages, theft in construction, and more. These problems require individuals who can use critical thinking skills to solve problems in unpredictable situations.

Final Thoughts

We would like to thank Bonnie Pillster for her time and for sharing her experience. Considering a career in construction? Make sure to check out our Careers page or contact us today!

Across Washington and Oregon, measures for erosion control are high priorities for local, state and federal governments. Construction sites over one-acre are required to inspect these measures through an individual known as a Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead (CESCL). Dictated by the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), as well as the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), stormwater inspections and sampling at construction sites are required to be completed and logged regularly.

In a previous post, we discussed dewatering, one of the many facets of erosion control and stormwater management that involves removing ground or surface water from a given location. The systems in place for the various dewatering methods must be monitored, tested and data logged by the onsite CESCL inspector to ensure that water is treated and redistributed correctly.

What is Erosion Control?

To define erosion control, we must first identify what erosion is. Erosion occurs naturally in the environment when materials such as soil, rocks and sediment are worn away and/or transported over time, typically by naturally occurring phenomenon such as wind, rain, or flowing water. Erosion can be sped up by human interactions, particularly during construction projects, logging, or clearing of vegetation for practices such as farming. Fast-paced soil erosion reduces the quality of soils and can transport debris, contaminants and pollutants into local waterways, streams and rivers. Additionally, soil erosion can lead to topsoil reduction and limit the land’s ability to produce crops.

Another common form of erosion is water erosion, such as during times of snowmelt, flash floods and large rainstorms. Large volumes of water runoff can decimate topsoil in fields, cause landslides and more. In construction, we work hard to control erosion as we disrupt the earth for new structures. The process of removing vegetation destabilizes soil in such a way that without erosion controls, sites can experience significant erosion and other complications that impact neighboring sites and waterways.

Erosion control is the method used to prevent soils and sediment from leaving the construction site. Methods of erosion control include man-made barriers and/or structures, land management techniques, plantings and dewatering strategies.

What Methods Help with Erosion Control?

To meet the DOE and DEQ standards, preventing the transfer of soils and sediments to neighboring properties during construction is critical. Site supervisors must prevent soil and sediment from leaving the site, and control water runoff to do so. 

Some methods of preventing erosion include:

Plant vegetation on exposed soils helps develop roots to prevent soils from moving.

Plastic Sheeting
Install plastic sheeting on exposed soils to prevent water from accessing the surface and dislocating soils.

Use matting materials, such as woven or sandwich type fabrics, on top of soils to slow down the movement of soils if water or wind is present.

Sediment Fencing
Install sediment fencing, a barrier generally made of a plastic material, to stop material from flowing off the site.

Rough Seeding
Install grass seed on exposed soil to create a natural buffer from eroded materials once germinated.

In addition, controlling the flow of water onsite through proper dewatering methods is a crucial component of erosion control. Recent updates to the Erosion control requirements by DEQ and DOE have severely limited the amount and type of water that can leave a site, so proper onsite water management is crucial for a successful construction project.

What is Turbidity Monitoring?

Turbidity is “the measure of relative clarity of a liquid”. In other words, the turbidity of a liquid describes how clear or cloudy it is. Water with cloudiness, or high turbidity, can raise concerns about health, as the debris in the water can house diseases and, while not always the case, studies show strong links between the removal of high turbidity with lowering protozoa.

Runoff, whether upstream or downstream from a construction site, is a common problem for turbidity levels and must be tested to meet acceptable levels before being released offsite. The allowable turbidity of water runoff is equivalent to a 10% increase from the existing turbidity of the waterway that will intercept the runoff. Due to the ever-changing weather and environmental patterns in the northwest, turbidity tests must be completed often as the receiving waterway will have fluctuating turbidity levels. If turbidity is found to be too high, it’s critical to adjust erosion control measures until acceptable levels have been reached. The regulating erosion control party (DEQ or DOE) has the ability to shut down a construction project if the turbidity of water runoff is too high, so it is imperative to keep a close eye on all construction waters.

Onsite Erosion and Sediment Control Planning

Contractors preparing to work must have an approved Erosion and Sediment Control Plan approved by the appropriate state agencies prior to beginning construction. The State of Oregon requires a 1200C permit be in place, which includes the erosion control plans put in place for each specific site.  

In addition, both Oregon and Washington require the presence of an individual who is a Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead, who will be responsible for stormwater inspections and sampling. These certifications, once achieved, are good for three years. The onsite CESCL is responsible for logging findings, updating plans for erosion and sediment control as the site is modified, and enforcing proper protocols as construction proceeds.

Approved Erosion and Sediment Control plans will include, at minimum, the following details:

  • Existing site boundaries
  • Building layout and site plan
  • All site water discharge points and related protective methods
  • Erosion control BMPs (best practice methods) including silt fencing installation, material berming, stray wattles, inlet protection, site entrance, etc.
  • Any added or updated BMPs for site erosion control

The Approved Erosion Control and Sediment Plans are to be treated as a living document onsite. Depending on the jurisdiction, an updated plan must be submitted for formal approval each time an adjustment is made. Should a DEQ or DOE inspector visit your site, an up-to-date Approved Erosion and Sediment Control plan is required. If individual contractors do not have in-house CESCL experts, they can hire third-party companies to complete this service for them. General contractors or excavators often have in-house CESCL experts available, and the individual responsible for each site should be discussed ahead of mobilization.

Final Thoughts

Erosion and sediment control management is a complicated topic that, while simplified for the purposes of this article, requires diligence and planning to properly execute. It’s important that contractors review local, state and federal guidelines for stormwater management, erosion, and sediment control measures, as well as how to comply with each jurisdiction’s requirements. The consequences of failing to comply with these regulations can be severe, including fines, delays in permit issuance and more.

If you’re planning to pursue a large building project, talk with our teams about the best ways to ensure compliance with these regulations.

The Pacific Northwest has experienced multiple heatwaves during the summer of 2021. This year, the soaring temperatures are once again highlighting the need to prioritize awareness of heat exposure related illnesses, heat safety in construction as well as strategies to keep workers safe in these conditions.

In July of 2021, Oregon OSHA enacted an emergency rule to require employers to take precautions for workers during high temperatures. Utilizing the heat index and tiered levels of regulation, the basic idea is to provide shade and water at regular intervals to keep workers hydrated and healthy as temperatures rise.

In addition to these rules, Perlo has been utilizing a variety of strategies to minimize heat exposure and maintain worker safety in all aspects of our jobsites. Today we’ll explore more about OSHA’s new rules as well as strategies to minimize the risk of heat related illnesses on our sites.   

The Heat Index

According to the National Weather Service, The heat index is ‘what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature’. To determine the heat index, the temperature and relative humidity must both be accounted for. In higher humidity environments, the relative temperature will feel hotter than in low humidity environments.

Heat index chart from the National Weather Service

Critical to note is that the heat index is based on temperatures in shady locations, which means that workers in direct sunlight can experience an increase of the heat index value by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re inclined to do manual calculations to determine the heat index, the National Weather Service provides the Heat Index Equation on their website, although most weather apps will identify this.

OSHA Oregon Temporary Rules

The full documentation outlining OSHA Oregon’s new temporary rules are available on their website. In summary, the rules apply when the heat index temperature reaches or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the regulations increase at each 10-degree interval.

At a heat index temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, employers must supply access to shade and a supply of drinking water.

At a heat index temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, employers must also establish the following:

  • Effective communication channels between employees and employers for reporting purposes.
  • Observation of employees for signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses.
  • Cool-down rest periods in the shade of 10 minutes in length for every two hours of work.
  • Development of an emergency medical plan and practices to help employees gradually adapt to the rising temperatures.

Additionally, employers must provide specific training to each employee about the risks of heat related illnesses, the responsibilities of employers related to heat exposure, and general education on personal risks that may exacerbate heat related illnesses, such as medications, obesity, alcohol, etc.

The new rules outline clear descriptions of shade and the expectations regarding the quantity, cleanliness and temperature of available water supplies for workers.

Heat Related Illnesses

There are a variety of heat related illnesses that an individual may succumb to. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlines these clearly on their website. They can include:

Heat Stroke
The most serious heat related illness, which occurs when the body can no longer regulate its own body temperature. Extreme fevers up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit can be reached in as little as 10 – 15 minutes time, and heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability without immediate and proper treatment.

Heat stroke symptoms may include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Death

Heat Exhaustion
Typically triggered by excessive sweating and therefore the loss of water and salt in the body, heat exhaustion is most often suffered by the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and people working in hot environments.

Heat exhaustion symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Decreased urine output

A medical condition related to heat stress and physical exertion, this condition is related to the breakdown and loss of muscle. It can cause irregular heart rhythms, seizures and kidney damage.

Rhabdomyolysis symptoms may include:

  • Muscle cramps and/or pain
  • Dark colored urine
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • No outward symptoms

Heat Syncope
A fainting episode or dizziness that typically occurs when rising suddenly from a laying or standing position, or from prolonged standing. Dehydration and lack of acclimating to the environment contribute to this condition.

Heat syncope symptoms may include:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Light headedness upon suddenly rising

Heat cramps
Typically arising after long, strenuous periods of heavy activity where sweat has decreased the water and salt levels in the body, this is when the muscles in the body cause painful cramping.

Heat cramps symptoms may include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Pain
  • Spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs.

Heat Rash
A skin irritation from excessive sweating during hot weather.

Heat rash symptoms include:

  • Red clusters that appear like small pimples or blisters, and usually are located on the neck, upper chest, groin, under breasts or in elbow creases.

NIOSH provides a two-page First Aid for Heat Illness Fact Sheet to educate employers and workers on heat related illness, prevention techniques and first aid protocols, and has additional educational resources on their website.

Site Strategies for Heat Safety in Construction

The best strategies for individuals to avoid heat related illnesses are to stay hydrated, to slowly acclimate to high temperatures, wear loose and comfortable clothing, and avoid direct sunlight. On construction sites, we must take special care to ensure that workers remain healthy and safe, especially when temperatures rise beyond 80 degrees.

Heat safety in construction - drinking water

We utilize a variety of options for helping to maintain safe work sites related to the heat:

Providing shade: Ideally, a job trailer with air condition space is available for work breaks, and at minimum, significant shady areas are available for the entire crew.

Providing water: Water coolers are provided with enough water for each employee to consume at least 32 ounces per hour, at a temperature no warmer than 77 degrees. When power is limited for cooling mechanically, we add ice to the water supply.

Sun visors on hard hats: In addition to light and loose clothing, many of our crew members are now wearing sun visors on their hard hats to provide additional sun protection.

Enforced break times: In addition to regular breaks as required by national labor laws, the new Oregon OSHA regulations regarding temperatures above 90 degrees dictate 10-minute breaks for every two hours of work.  The rest periods must be in a shady location and as close as practical to the employee’s areas of work.

Shifting work hours: When possible, site working hours are shifted to avoid the warmest times of the day.  This may mean switching to night hours or beginning shifts in the very early hours of the morning.

Misting station installations: If a water source is readily available, sites can choose to install misting stations to provide additional cooling for workers.

Final Thoughts

Heat related illnesses are a serious concern.  By employing strategies to both educate workers about the risks, as well as provide opportunities for breaks, shade and hydration, these concerns can be minimized. It is always our goal for individuals to be safe and healthy on our jobsites. We encourage you to stay safe as we progress through this summer’s heatwaves. 

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

Welcome back to Episode Seven of the Perlo Podcast! Podcast host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Superintendent George Trice and Project Manager Nate Brown, two members of the project team for one of Perlo’s current projects in Ridgefield, Washington.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Nate Brown
Project Manager
George Trice

Overview of Ridgefield Industrial

Ridgefield Industrial is a 480,000 SF core and shell concrete tilt-up warehouse on a 50-acre site being built for Specht. Project teams are about three-quarters of the way through the project, with the total duration spanning about eleven months.

George Trice, Project Superintendent at Perlo Construction, explains that the walls have already been tilted and the roof is about 70% completed. In this specific project, project teams are waiting to pour the truck loading docks until the last minute to allow time for a potential tenant to come in, as they are hoping to do some tenant improvements later on. The team is currently ahead of schedule, and they expect to finish the project a month ahead of schedule.

George explains that although they are now expecting to finish the project a month early, this wasn’t always the case. Times were tougher over the winter, but the crews were able to tackle a few critical items early, such as the truck aprons, that pushed the project schedule ahead.

Nate Brown, one of Perlo’s Project Mangers, states that he’s learned quite a bit since being out on the site. As a visual learner, being on the site in person a few days a week to see what’s going on has allowed him to learn exponentially about building in commercial construction.

General Process of Concrete Tilt-ups

The process for concrete tilt-ups is generally straight-forward. From stripping the site and concrete-treating the soil to digging footings for the slab, the end goal is the have the panels come off the ground when it is time to tilt. One unique factor of concrete tilt-ups is that you don’t run the slab where the wall is going to be. As panels tilt up and sit on footings, there is about a 10-foot gap between the wall and the slab. Once the roof is tied in, project teams start backfilling and do a pour-strip around the building. This is critical, as both the rebar that is coming out of your panels and the roof system all have to tie into the slab perfectly.

Site Challenges

George and Nate explain that the biggest challenge on this site was the rain. Every pour that the team conducted was followed by rain, which meant that bond breaker couldn’t be added to the slab. Bond breaker is what keeps the newly poured panel layers from sticking to the slab and is a necessity for panel tilts. The project team and field crews had to take a more innovative route to solve this problem by working over the weekend when the weather was nicer to get as much water off the panels as possible.  

Final Thoughts

Like what you hear? Check out the full podcast to see a tour of this in-progress project!

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.”

John D. Rockefeller

Conversations across the globe are concentrated on what work looks like post-pandemic, with the ‘Great Resignation’ being a pattern that employers are grappling with and adapting to. While there are several reasons for this mass exodus, one of them is that individuals are seeking purpose in their work and are willing to leave their roles if they can find something they believe will be more fulfilling. Today, we’re taking a closer look at what brings purpose to the lives of those that work in the construction industry and at Perlo.

What is Purpose?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, purpose is:

the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists; a person’s sense of resolve or determination

have as one’s intention or objective

From simply finding job security, to becoming an expert at a trade, to serving a bigger mission in life, finding purpose at work can mean many different things to different people. To find meaning in everyday work, it is crucial to find a connection between the daily activities that provide a paycheck and the motivation that transforms a job into an experience that fulfills your needs. With such a diverse range of crafts and passions involved in a single company, it only makes sense that every individual has a different idea of what purpose is to them and how they find it at work. We asked our employees at Perlo what they find fulfilling about their work, and although purpose is different from person to person, we received a variety of answers that generally fell into the following categories:

  • There are continuous learning opportunities.
  • There’s a physical contribution to the community.
  • It provides a great income for families and desired lifestyles.
  • The relationships and team atmosphere are rewarding.

Purpose in Construction

One unique aspect of construction is that individuals with a variety of skillsets can be involved. A single general contracting firm like Perlo, for instance, employs many positions and skill sets, which range from entry level to highly educated, such as:

Payroll and Accounting
Secretarial work
Human Resources
Project Management

Executive Management
Estimating & Budgeting
Site Supervision

Warehouse Management
Site Superintendent
Legal/Risk Management
Safety Management

In the tight labor market the United States is currently facing, individuals have more autonomy over their employment opportunities than ever before. Regardless of skillset and interest, there’s a place for nearly everyone within our industry. However, retaining employees often hinges on them feeling like their contributions matter. Finding purpose, motivation, and drive at work has a range of benefits. Employees who understand their job’s bigger purpose tend to be more engaged, creative, and happier overall. This employee satisfaction results in a more effective company by increasing productivity and decreasing turnover.

Purpose at Perlo Construction

While considering this topic, we got some valuable insight by talking to Perlo’s employees about what they enjoy in their work. While it might surprise you, this isn’t always an easy question to answer. However, we received many answers that are a testament to the purpose our people find here at Perlo. Below you’ll find an array of the answers we received when asking where our employees find purpose in their work:

“I like building interesting things. And my work is different from day to day, so I don’t get bored.”

“I like that I can see something start from nothing and develop it into a finished product. There’s a clear measurement of success.”

“I like making our clients happy. If someone comes back, that’s the ultimate goal.”

“I find purpose in talking to people. This job involves a high level of communication and many other engineering careers don’t involve that level of communication.”

“I like a challenge. I like having problems to solve and the sense of completion that occurs when you do. And it’s great in our world that the problems are visual. You can see what you had a hand in building vs. other more non-tangible careers. I know I’m going to get to the other side, so that keeps me going.”

“I love the constant variety and getting to meet new and exciting people. It brings a sense of accomplishment to work with a team with different strengths and backgrounds to make visions come to life.”

“This field is a great way to support a family. It allows me to live a lifestyle that I appreciate. That’s what drives me. If I can walk away each day knowing I did everything I could to help our company and therefore the future of my job – that I helped with that process, there’s fulfillment there.”

“It’s fun to see people grow up. I’ve been here for so long and watched so many people grow and develop their own families and traditions. It’s fun to see that progression and families growing. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.”

“There’s a lot I like. The productivity is fulfilling. Being social is fulfilling. Coming in, working hard, and having the social aspect at work is enjoyable.”

“I like having others that depend on me. When I was carpenter, I liked building things, but as a supervisor, I enjoy being able to lead and help solve problems with others.”

“You’re improving the community, especially with projects like schools and medical facilities. It’s amazing to see the interconnection between businesses. For instance, a company like Intel spurs many other businesses to build here, so even if we don’t build for them, we support many other businesses that support them. Everyone needs construction, so I like feeling like we’re making a difference for other people.”

“In the healthcare sector, it’s changing people’s lives, and I saw that first hand because my mom worked in healthcare. The end result keeps me going.”

“It’s a fun journey even though it is also hard. We work so closely with many people, solving challenging problems every day. We can disagree and still be friends at the end of the day. If this job were easy, I wouldn’t be interested in it.”

“I like making people happy and receiving verbal appreciation. I like hitting a milestone and doing what we say we’re going to do.

“I like competing for projects and winning the work. I’m pretty competitive, so the challenge of winning work and then impressing the owner so much that they come back keeps me going.”

“Construction is physical – you can see what is being built, so it’s tangible. It’s also challenging. There’s a sense of satisfaction that you made that hard thing a reality.”

“Sometimes my job is like gambling when we’re trying to win work. It’s the process and knowing you were a part of the project.”

“I like the people, the projects, and the clients. It’s fun to see the community change for the better.”

“This job isn’t always easy, but it’s comfortable. I have great relationships with the people I work with and I know where I’ll be until I’ll retire. There’s comfort in that.”

“I like working for a company that has my back. That when times are challenging, they will do everything to keep people working and do their best to make you feel secure”

Final Thoughts

We are proud that so many at Perlo find great purpose in their work. As a company, we value our people and their contributions to the built environment.

Our passion is to build great projects for our clients and the people who will use them, and that means cultivating great employees with a thirst for the work. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in construction, check out our Careers page or Contact Us today!

The Fourth of July is right around the corner! As the first holiday of the summer season, many people can be found celebrating with backyard barbecues, fireworks, or water fun.

A federal holiday since 1870 and paid federal holiday since 1941, celebrations date back to the American Revolution and July 4th, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This is a day to unite as an independent country and celebrate with family and friends. Perlo will be observing the 4th of July Holiday and our offices and jobsites will be closed. We’d like to take this time to wish you all a happy and safe holiday with some tips to keep your families and communities protected as we celebrate.


The year 2020 broke the record for the number of injuries related to fireworks, making it the highest in the last 15 years, with even worse consequences if handled incorrectly.

In addition to being a safety hazard to humans, fireworks are also known for their catastrophic impacts on our wildlife and residences by causing wildfires and burning nearby homes. According to the NFPA, 2018 saw an estimated 19,500 fires reported to fire departments across the country. More than ¼ of these fires were started on the Fourth of July.

If you’re planning to celebrate with fireworks, take note of the following precautions:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

Keep in mind that firework noise can be disturbing to animals. More pets go missing on the Fourth of July weekend than any other time of year, primarily because of fireworks. Visit the AKC’s website for tips to prepare your pet for the weekend.


Many of us spend time outside cooking up hot dogs, burgers and more. However, fires caused by grilling are responsible for over 10,000 home fires on average in the U.S. and can cause additional safety related incidents to humans.

To avoid accidents, review the following tips:

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors—this includes your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone stays away from the grill, including children and pets.
  • Keep the grill away from the house or anything flammable.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.

It’s also best to have a supply of water nearby, and don’t ‘drink and grill’, as alcohol can impair your ability to think clearly and stay safe.


Every year in the U.S. there are unintentional incidents related to water safety, with the 4th of July holiday ranking as one of the most hazardous weekends in boating season resulting in the US Coast Guard suggesting extreme caution while out on the water.

Before you get out on the water, follow the tips below to make sure you and your family stay safe:

  • Talk to your children, including older youth and teenagers, about water safety.
  • If you choose to take your family to the water, make sure the area is designated for swimming. Rivers and lakes can present sudden drop-offs, underwater hazards such as snags or rocks, and heavy currents.
  • Designate a ‘water watcher’ whose sole responsibility is to supervise people during any in-water activity until the next person takes over.
  • Be responsible, exercise good judgement, and never swim alone.
  • Wear floatation devices while boating and never consume alcohol while operating a boat.

Celebrate Safely

As you celebrate this weekend, please stay safe. Our communities thrive when families and friends have a good time and make it home whole and uninjured. From our Perlo family to yours, have a happy and safe 4th of July!

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

Welcome back to Episode 6 of The Perlo Podcast! Host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Perlo’s expert team in education settings: Drew Carter, Senior Project Manager; Stephen Alger, Senior Project Manager; and John Tompkins, Project Superintendent. In today’s episode, we’ll being going over K-12 projects and what makes them so unique.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Drew Carter
Senior Project Manager
Stephen Alger
Senior Project Manager
John Tompkins
Project Superintendent

What are Some of the Factors That Go Into Planning Summer Projects?

Education projects often take place in the summer, when students are no longer in school. During the shortened summer construction season, we often see remodel projects that include anything from re-roofing upgrades and siding repairs to a “fluff and buff” on interior finishes. A lot of the time, these are projects that can’t be done while the campus is occupied when students are in school.

Drew notes that the biggest consideration when defining the scope and timeline to complete a project over the summer is, “Do we have enough time to actually do the work on the plans?” He remarks that although there is a lot that can get done in the summer months, it comes down getting on the campus early to look at the existing conditions and ensuring the construction documents are the same as what is actually on the ground.

John agrees, and adds, “The sooner you get into the building and get things opened up, the sooner you can get the District involved to figure out next steps.” This concept is something that the team learned first-hand, as John reminisces on one example where project teams opened a wall on a school project and discovered significant siding and structural issues that equated to about $100,000 worth of extra work.

Another option for project teams is to get into the building during a spring break or Christmas break period, which allows teams an early start to what they can tackle in terms of existing conditions, purchasing materials, getting a plan in place, and knowing who to contact. According to Stephen, the real key is what you can get done ahead of time, as “one week in advance is massive for a summer project when it is only 10 or 12 weeks long.”

” The safety part is really the toughest aspect on an occupied site when trying to make sure it accommodates the school and allows them to be operational.”

Construction Strategies When Spaces are Occupied

Elissa kicks off this topic by asking the team what changes in our strategies when a project can’t fit into a summer time frame and you must remodel a campus over the course of a school year. According to John, the biggest thing that changes is safety. “We know how to keep our workers safe, and we take it all seriously, but when it comes to having kids in your work area, it takes it to a whole other level,” he remarks. In one recent Perlo project, project teams put up barricades to cover demolition and used a material called ‘core ply’. Teachers ended up making murals on the material and, closer to the removal, Stephen came up with the idea of letting the kids in each class draw on it, as well. The goal for this innovative idea was to make the construction less intimidating for the students while still keeping them safe.

“The safety part is really the toughest aspect on an occupied site when trying to make sure it accommodates the school and allows them to be operational. The communication with the school to explain what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, what we need from them, and what they need from us is critical and is a challenge because of how many stakeholders we have,” explains Stephen.

With constantly changing expectations from the District, the general contractor, the school, the principal, and the facilities, there is always a constant struggle to find out who makes the final decisions.

What Makes K-12 Construction Different?

School buildings are constantly getting more sophisticated and complex. Each school has different bond objectives and requirements that come from funding sources, such as energy efficient or smart buildings, so there are many different systems in place that have to be cohesive. Elissa notes that it seems as though the districts have been working hard to standardize their processes for construction so that technology is centralized and processes are made more streamlined for future remodels.

Many schools are older buildings, so there are typically add-ons and renovations taking place. However, these are usually only done every 20 or 30 years, rather than more frequently. This means that improvements often haven’t been done for the duration of that time, and many facets of the building may be out of date or obsolete.

Building Schools to Stand the Test of Time

Schools must think about quality, as systems and materials must last 20 to 30 years. As a result, there is a bit more money spent upfront to make sure that the materials going into the buildings are high-quality, or else they won’t stand the test of hundreds of students every day. The goal is to make these buildings as flexible as possible, including taking innovative routes to make schools more secure and safe in the case of an unauthorized intruder.

Hard Bidding vs. Negotiating on K-12 Projects

At Perlo, w enjoy and encourage the CM/GC process. It allows for a stronger team aspect where everyone involved in the process is on board and there is ample time to look at everything upfront to make sure all facets of the project are correct.
From a school or community’s perspective, there are some advantages to a hard bid if it is a simple project. However, in the case of occupied schools, the CM/GC process has many more advantages, including:

  • Teams have the time to meet with the school to understand what their needs and challenges are.
  • There is an added benefit of project teams being able to do value engineering upfront, so the school doesn’t get blindsided by anything during construction.
  • There ends up being extra time and money to do more of what the stakeholders really want to do, such as painting the ceilings or adding tracks.

According to Drew, the communication piece is the biggest difference between a hard bid and a CM/GC process. If the team is involved early on and are attending coordination meetings with the users, design team, and facility maintenance, it is beneficial to hear what people’s needs are and what’s important to the different stakeholders to ensure the end result works for everyone and that project teams can deliver a high-quality project on time. If a CM/GC model is decided on and the contractor is brought on early, they are able to give advice on how to get the best value out of a project.

What You Need to Know About the Education Space

“These are always complicated projects. One of the items that is unique about schools is that often times there is a lot of emotions with the projects. Communities have ties to these buildings,” Drew states.

Drew also notes that these are complex projects with a lot of stakeholders. Overall, it can be more of a juggling act compared to a typical project. With a school, you’re working for the students, the staff, the custodial service, the District, and all of these different stakeholders that have ties to that building. It’s a constant juggle between making sure that everyone is heard but still being decisive and moving forward to get the project done.

Final Thoughts

Every school project is unique, with a different “recipe” for each. As focal points of the community, project teams must take innovative routes in order to deliver each project on time and on budget. Perlo is proud to contribute to our communities through our schools and understand the ever-evolving processes that make the end result so special.

Change Order
noun; plural change orders

Definition : a written alteration to a previously signed contract for work (as in construction)

What are Change Orders in Construction?

A change order in construction is a written alteration to a previously signed contract for work. In expanded terms, a change order is the documentation outlining the scope and cost for added or subtracted work to a specific construction project, which modifies the original contractual agreement to include the new terms of the work. Any given project may experience one or many change orders over time, determined by a variety of factors:

  • The complexity of the work
  • The state of construction documents when the work was bid
  • The procurement method
  • Changes in building use/tenancy

Change orders are an important piece of documentation for all parties in a given project, and they also tend to be thought of as a negative item because they often add costs to the work, though this is not always the case.

When is a Change Order Justified?

Contractors will submit a change order if the scope of the work adjusts after a price has been agreed to. The scope can change due to many things, including but not limited to:

Additional requirements from the local authority having jurisdiction (JHA).
For example: a project is priced prior to construction permits being issued. Once the permit is issued, the local JHA requires modifications to the plans that add cost to the work.

The building was designed as a speculative space.
The owner signs a lease with a tenant that now requires a tenant improvement build-out.

In an existing space, unknown factors become evident during demolition, such as:

  • Finding structurally significant walls or components
  • Discovering hazardous materials
  • Identifying undocumented utility piping

Drawings used to hard bid the work were incomplete or missing details.

The owner or design team dislikes a specified dimension or finished product and decides to make a change.

Boulders or soft soils are discovered on the site during excavation activities.

In short, there are a myriad of reasons that changes to the scope or cost may present themselves over time. Construction is inherently full of risks that may impact the cost of work and justify a change order.

reducing change orders
Often an unknown until site excavation begins, the presence of boulders can lead to significant change orders.

Reducing Change Orders in Construction Projects

The best way to reduce the number of change orders on a project is two-fold:

  • Negotiate the project with your general contractor and involve them in the preconstruction process.
  • Hire a competent designer to team with your GC to develop complete construction documents.

Engaging the entire design and construction team at the conception of a given project allows all parties to work cooperatively to achieve the end goal. A great preconstruction team can identify and reduce risks by anticipating and planning mitigation strategies for the work.

Some examples include:

Risks related to Site Work

Early investigative efforts through the use of a civil engineer, a geo-engineer, and an excavation company can provide insights into the site that will identify risks. While not all site complexities can be determined before digging begins, these experts should be able to calculate reasonable allowances to carry to account for them.

Risks related to Building Materials

In today’s climate of long lead times, materials delays and labor shortages, it’s critical to identify all needed items and the length of time that will be required to ensure they arrive on time. With a negotiated contract, the GC can be authorized to pre-order materials to arrive on time and avoid escalation and delays.

Risks related to Quality of Work

As discussed in this episode of The Perlo Podcast, picking the ‘lowest price’ bid isn’t always a good plan if high quality work is desired. Pre-qualifying the trade partner firms and involving them in the budgeting process helps ensure that the final product is exactly as expected.

Performance of Constructability Reviews to Reduce Risk

An important task in the preconstruction process is the completion of constructability reviews. Contractors can evaluate designs when they’re preliminary to identify cost, schedule and quality impacts and suggest alternatives if what is drawn isn’t ideal. These items can inform the design before it’s finalized and reduce costly re-designs.

Change orders can’t always be avoided. However, working with a high-quality and experienced construction team can reduce the quantity of them.

Reviewing Change Orders for Accuracy

Change orders are often unavoidable during construction for all the reasons discussed previously. When they occur, there a few things to keep in mind to ensure that the changes are complete, accurate and as cost effective as possible.

Verify that the scope is complete.
A good contractor will critically evaluate the scope that any trade partners include in the change to ensure that this change order won’t lead to another future change order.

Evaluate the costs included.
This may mean reviewing trade partner quotes, supplier quotes and the fees assigned to those. Change orders should be sent to the owner and design team with cost backup attached which explains the breakdown for how the costs were calculated.

Pre-negotiate the change order fees and insurance rates that are assigned to them.
Documenting these fees in the original construction contract manages expectations for mark-ups on changes.

Consider schedule impacts.
Often, changes in scope and work may change the end date. Change orders should always account for any added days that will be required to complete the work. Note that an extension of the project schedule will usually include additional general conditions costs.

A good contractor will know what is included in the change order and why. They will also have spent time reviewing the original contract documents to confirm that the added work, associated costs and schedule changes are justified.

Final Thoughts

While change orders may be unavoidable, establishing ground rules and using a team approach to evaluate each one of them can prevent the process from becoming contentious. Using strict review processes for each change with a critical eye for details will ensure that any changes are accurate as well as justified.

If you’re thinking of your next construction project and want to ensure that you have the best team on board, contact us today.

Construction is complex, with projects often requiring hundreds of team members, if not more. The stakeholders that have a say about the work, such as neighbors, end-users or the public, typically expect communication about what the project entails and how it will impact them.

As much as humans like to think that we are all great at communication, it is quite difficult to accurately correspond to all parties the complexities of the work involved on a given project. Today, we’ll discuss who needs information about projects and some of the ways to ensure that they receive it.

With good communication protocols in place, contractors and design teams can ensure all parties are informed about their projects. 

Who Needs Communications About Projects?

Many stakeholders need information about projects, including, but not limited to many of the parties directly involved in the work:

  • Building owners
  • Tenants
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Third-party consultants
  • Local jurisdiction
  • General contractor and/or construction manager
  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers
  • Utility providers

In addition to these relatively ‘direct’ stakeholders, there are often many less directly involved people in a given project, which may include:

  • Neighboring building owners and tenants
  • Building end-users, such as students, staff, etc.
  • The public, in case of road closures, noise events, utility interruptions, etc.
  • Funding sources, including public dollars, banks, non-profit boards and donors, etc.

This second group of people can impact projects in a variety of ways and their feedback may come in the form of curiosity, support or protests. For instance:

In the case of public funding or donated dollars, individuals want to know that money is being spent responsibly.

Public or neighborhood groups may express concern related to disruptions to their neighborhoods due to noise, added traffic, the removal of open space or blocked views.

Neighbors may be interested in the work and would like to be informed about the process, desired outcomes or end-users.  

The means for communicating with each of these parties is often different and involves various methods and frequencies. Let’s take a closer look at communications strategies for these groups.

Communications Strategies for Direct Team Members

The most direct team members on a given project include the construction manager/general contractor, owner, and design teams, with subcontractors and suppliers needing extensive information and regular communications for third-party inspectors, jurisdictional entities and utility companies, as well.

Here are some of the most direct strategies used for communication in construction projects:

Design drawings & specifications

The drawings and specifications are the backbones of communication for project teams. These documents, which are now typically digital in lieu of printed, include all of the information that brings a vision to reality. These communicate dimensions, elevations, material types, structural details, quality control metrics, and more. They are not only the path forward but also a record of what was built and how.

Project schedules

Creating and distributing project schedules communicates who should be onsite and when. Maintaining their accuracy over time is critical for controlling expectations for all team members, including when to have materials and labor onsite, and deadlines for completion. 

Request for Information (RFI)  

RFI’s are a formal documentation process for clarifying construction details. Typically, a contractor (general or subcontractor) will pose a question to the design team and the response, with direction, is formalized via this process. Any changes are then built into the overarching project documentation.


Submittals are documentation of a product or building component that is submitted to the general contractor, design team and sometimes building owners for review and approval. These documents help to verify exact finishes, dimensions and details before final product orders are made.

OAC meetings

The long name is Owner, Architect, Contractor meeting, which are held with all of the listed parties on a regular cadence to provide updates on the project status. These meetings will cover many topics and will change based on the activities underway. Topics of discussion may include:

  • Safety
  • Schedule
  • Materials lead times and order status
  • RFIs
  • Submittal milestones
  • Team member concerns

Depending on the complexity of the project, these meetings will be held weekly, although some may choose to meet more or less often. Aside from the formal meeting topics, these are an opportunity for team members to build relationships, solve problems and optimize project results.

Traditional communications such as in-person conversations, emails and phone calls

While much of the construction process is all about formal communications, there is no substitute for traditional communications strategies, such as email, phone and in-person conversations.

Communications strategies with team members must be a priority to streamline and optimize construction projects.

Communications Strategies for Indirect Stakeholders

In addition to the team members directly involved in a given project, the surrounding community members often want – and need – communication, as well. Neighbors in the immediate vicinity, travelers impacted by interruptions to the right-of-way, or those who may experience permanent changes to their traffic patterns, view, or neighborhood experience appreciate being informed about the projects in their lives.

Communicating with these indirect stakeholders can be more challenging for a variety of reasons, primarily because they’re not engaged in the more direct discussions about the work. Emotions related to the project could be mixed, ranging anywhere from excitement to ambivalence, or even anger.

Some of the ways project teams can communicate with these stakeholders may include:

Town-hall style meetings

Hosting an open-house style or ‘town hall’ meeting gives neighborhoods the chance to meet and discuss projects with direct team members. These may be a single meeting or a series of them, held at various points in the project. These give team members an opportunity to share their vision, listen to concerns and engage citizens in the work.

Groundbreakings and grand openings

These ceremonies can provide neighborhoods with reason to celebrate new projects, engage with the team and bring media attention to the work. 

Social media campaigns

Social media campaigns that include project information can be a great way to inform the community about new projects, updates, unique features and more.

Website landing pages

Combined with the social media campaigns, some projects may justify their own website that contains project goals, details and schedule information, as well as potential interruptions to traffic, utilities, and more. It’s possible to house a variety of information types on these sites, such as text descriptions, photos, live-stream videos and contact information to report emergencies or concerns.

Door-to-door campaigns

In-person campaigns to notify neighbors in the case of traffic or utility interruptions can go a long way towards creating goodwill and patience from neighbors. Leave-behind documents with basic information about the project, the interruption and contact information for concerns are advisable.

All of these strategies should be considered relative to the size, complexity and impact on the neighborhood. Larger and more complex projects in urban areas are likely to gather more attention than smaller projects in commercial zones.

Final Thoughts

Communications are a critical component to making construction projects smooth, for both direct and indirect stakeholders. Refining communications protocols and processes help ensure that everyone is on the same page from start to finish, and that in the event of an emergency or neighbor concern, pathways to answers are clear.

Originating in the United States following the end of the Civil War in the spring of 1865, Memorial Day officially became a federal holiday in 1971. Originally celebrated as ‘Decoration Day’, the first celebration was held on May 30th, 1868, by a group of northern Civil War veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

Following World War I, these celebrations adapted to honor American military personnel who died in all wars, and has grown to include World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over time, celebrations for Memorial Day have morphed and now include a variety of rituals, such as:

  • Lowering American flags to half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raising it to the top
  • Pausing for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm local time
  • Wearing a red poppy
  • Closing non-essential businesses and public offices/services
  • Family get-togethers, including visiting cemeteries and gathering for meals

Perlo, joined by construction companies across the country, include veterans from all of our armed forces, including the US Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corp, Navy and the National Guard. We hold them all in high regard for their service to our country.

Today, we honor all of those who served and died in the line of duty. Our humble thanks to those individuals who gave everything for our freedom. From all of us, thank you.

The industrial real estate market has been booming for several years and is anticipated to continue its upward trajectory for the near future. Fueled by increases in e-commerce, a strong economy and a heightened desire to keep inventory levels high, the demand for industrial buildings remains strong. In fact, Q3 2021 saw a record-breaking 448.9 million square feet of industrial space under construction in the United States.

A lesser discussed topic in the industrial market is that of continued maintenance. Concrete tilt-up buildings make up a large share of the industrial market, and while they’re relatively simple building systems, they do require maintenance over time.

Today, we will spend some time discussing the common maintenance items that building owners and users should keep in mind to keep their assets in premium condition.

1. Major Mechanical, Electrical, Fire Protection and Plumbing Systems

Every building contains some form of mechanical, electrical, plumbing & fire protection systems (MEPF), ranging from very simple to extremely complex. Best practice is to hire licensed contractors to perform routine maintenance on these systems, completing items such as filter and belt replacements on HVAC units; routine inspections on circuit breakers, and bulb replacements; fire alarm tests; sprinkler system flushing; and more.

Once a contractor turns over the building to the owner or manager following construction, the maintenance of these systems is no longer the responsibility of the general contractor (barring any contractual agreements to the contrary).

While it’s generally advised for the original vendors to complete the maintenance work, it is also possible to hire another company for this purpose. Remember to provide clear expectations to ensure you acquire comparable proposals for maintenance work and review the maintenance contract at regular intervals.

As part of the close-out process, a good general contractor will provide contact information for the installing subcontractor team so the owner can consider retaining them for ongoing maintenance.

2. Roofing Systems

Industrial buildings are commonly a shallow sloped roof structure with a built-up roofing membrane, a Thermoset (EPDM) roof membrane, or a Thermoplastic (TPO) roof membrane. Each roofing type has different specifications for installation and maintenance. These include details on roof penetrations, drainage and maintenance requirements for best practices and maintaining the roof warranty.

Regular roof maintenance programs will investigate and repair, among other items:

  • The presence of debris, particularly in corners or drains
  • Cracks or tears in the roofing material
  • Soundness of the material at roof penetrations
  • Soft spots signifying rot or structural failure
  • Sheet metal cap flashing, scuppers and gutter inspections
  • Pooling water

Finding these anomalies as early as possible lowers the cost of repairs. Some items may even be included in the base maintenance agreement.

Depending on the complexity of the roof system, the location of the building and the contractual agreement, roof maintenance will most often be performed on a quarterly or semi-annual schedule. It’s important to review the terms of the warranty documents for each particular roofing system. Neglecting roof maintenance will negate any warranties.

3. Exterior Painting and Caulking

Exterior paint and caulking are critical to maintaining a weather-proof building envelope. The specific type of paint and caulk will largely depend on the building’s geographic location and environmental conditions. For instance, here in the Pacific Northwest where wet weather is prevalent, we advise the use of elastomeric paint. This paint can help to bridge micro-cracking in concrete to prevent water penetration.

Caulking at panel joints, windows and doors, and other wall penetrations is another key part of weather-proofing a building. It’s critical that caulking be fit for the specific use, flexible enough to withstand some flex in the building and durable enough to withstand the local weather conditions.

As a general rule and especially in the Pacific Northwest, it’s advisable to review building caulk for defects and touch-ups, as well as to re-paint the exterior at five-year intervals, approximately. If your building is located in another environment, ask a trusted painting and caulking contractor what the recommended interval is for maintenance of these elements.

4. Interior Concrete Slabs

The quality of a concrete slab is primarily based on two factors: First, the quality upon installation; and second, the way it is maintained over time. Some recommended maintenance procedures include:

  • Complete regular sweeping to remove all debris from floor joints and traffic aisles.
  • Repair cracks or spalls as soon as they occur to avoid further degradation.
  • Spot clean spills as quickly as possible.
  • For polished concrete, utilize floor sweepers and cleaners at regular intervals, and utilize only manufacturer approved chemicals for cleaning.
  • Ensure forklift tires and other machinery wheels are clean and smooth.
  • Install chemical resistant epoxy coatings at all areas subject to regular drainage or chemicals.

It’s also advisable to caulk at all floor joints to prevent debris from accumulating. Regular forklift or machinery traffic traveling over debris-filled joints can quickly lead to damage. Without proper repairs, this damage can spread exponentially. Know that it is natural for concrete to crack. Strategically placed control joints and a firm foundation will help to minimize them. Minor cracking is not typically a structural issue.

5. Exterior Parking and Sidewalks

Parking lots are normally asphaltic paving or concrete paving, with asphaltic paving being the most common in the Pacific Northwest. These surfaces hold up well, but some maintenance over time is important to avoid the need for replacement. Below are some general tips to keep your exterior surfaces in tip-top shape:

  • Ensure that grades are sloped away from the building, including sidewalks and landscaping.
  • Install a seal-coat at regular intervals, particularly in heavily-trafficked areas.
  • Patch potholes as quickly as possible to prevent further degradation. If potholes routinely re-occur, consult an excavator or civil engineer for a more permanent fix, as this is likely a sub-surface issue.
  • Watch for ‘alligator’ cracking, where extensive cracking in a scale-like pattern emerges. This typically indicates a sub-surface issue and will need more than surface-level patching.
  • Pressure wash surfaces to prevent accumulations of algae or chemicals, particularly if salt or deicer is used in the winter months.
  • Consider installing bollards or parking stops to prevent vehicles from driving into pedestrian areas or damaging curbs.
  • Plant trees with root systems that will not damage nearby sidewalk or asphalt and allow them plenty of space from hard surfaces. The City of Portland has an approved street tree planting list that provides some guidance. 

While the cost for routine maintenance may seem high, the cost to replace areas of pavement or sidewalk is generally much higher.      

Final Thoughts

No matter which piece of the building we discuss, proactive maintenance is far more cost-effective than reactive maintenance. Engaging specialty contractors to complete regular maintenance protocols from the time the building is complete and over the course of its lifetime will lead to lower costs over time, a higher quality space and, in the case of leased space, happier tenants.

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

Welcome back to the Perlo Podcast for Episode Five! Host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Kyncade Hardy, Superintendent, and Adam Smelley, Project Manager, on the site of True Terpenes, one of Perlo’s tenant improvements in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Adam Smelley
Project Manager
Kyncade Hardy
Project Superintendent

General Overview of True Terpenes

True Terpenes is a tenant improvement currently underway consisting of interior improvements in a 20,000 SF existing tilt-up building. The building interior, which had originally consisted of existing office space, was demolished to create the following:

  • A second-level mezzanine
  • Additional office spaces
  • Conference rooms
  • Manufacturing space complete with clean rooms and a warehouse

Kyncade Hardy, Perlo Superintendent on this project, notes that there are quite a few components to this tenant improvement, including a hazardous materials storage room with a concrete curb and steel barriers for chemical storage, as well as areas of the building with a Corrosion Resistant Coating (CRC) on the flooring to protect from the chemicals used for CBD production. In addition, this job required considerable HVAC and mechanical work for proper ventilation and air movement.

Adam Smelley, Perlo’s Project Manager on True Terpenes, remarks, “One of the unique things we’ve done is that we’ve maintained the general office area by adding a mezzanine area above that to amplify their office space.” In addition, the project team is also taking what was an existing warehouse from the previous tenant and modifying it for the current process rooms, complete with process piping and other production systems throughout.

Because the roof lacked the space necessary to store the building’s mechanical systems, concrete pads were added to the outside of the building as well as another second-level mezzanine. Kyncade states that this has been a great asset, as it has allowed them to avoid the risks and challenges that come along with opening roof structure in the winter.

The project, which kicked off in mid-November of last year, is expected to be completed in April of 2022.

Where True Terpenes is Today

This space has remained unoccupied for the majority of the work, along with being in the unique position of being procured through a negotiated strategy. This gave project teams the time to go over four rounds of budgeting before taking on the unique existing conditions. Adam states, “The client has been great to work with, and they were open to following our path on which is the best route to remedy the conditions and make this the right product for them.”

Kyncade describes the current conditions of True Terpenes as very close to completion. He describes that on one half of the interior, the office space area and mezzanine are in place, and the crews are currently finishing the drywall both upstairs and downstairs. On the other half, crews are finishing up the Fiberglass-Reinforced Polymer (FRP), a strong yet lightweight building material that resists corrosion, in the clean rooms. Electrical rough-in has been taking place in the clean rooms and manufacturing side, with ceilings ready to be installed in the area. It was crucial, especially with FRP, that project teams knew where certain facets of electrical work came into play. These factors, such as the location of outlets, are why project teams took multiple walks through the facility with the client to plan accordingly.

The mezzanine structure also contains a 4-inch concrete slab, which was initially intended to be stained concrete. In the end, the client decided to go with marmoleum flooring, which saved time on the job and helped maintain cleanliness on the jobsite. Elissa notes how stained concrete is a notoriously tricky item due to its intense requirements for maintenance to keep it looking nice. Although it might look great once it’s completed, it takes a lot of effort, coordination, and knowledge to maintain. “We love concrete as a company, but sometimes we look at these things and think that it may be safer to cover it up,” Adam states.

Regarding interior finishes in the building, the stairs leading up to the mezzanine will have a wood tread with the handrail around the mezzanine featuring a stainless-steel cable with a wood top rail to match the stair treads. In addition to a ceiling cloud over the office area, these features all come together for some truly unique and high-end finishes.

Final Thoughts
Like what you hear? Check out the full podcast to see a tour of this in-progress project.

Construction sites and buildings are a major source of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with reports showing that global building accounts for 21% of GHG emissions and one-third of worldwide energy usage. With such a monumental impact, it’s crucial that the construction industry continue to work to increase green construction—the effort to infuse sustainability into the building process to promote a healthy environment—by integrating renewable energy sources into construction projects.

The use of renewable energy sources is perhaps the biggest step to minimize and eventually eliminate emissions produced from construction sites. Today, we’ll be diving into the different types of renewable energy sources in construction and why they are important to our industry.

Sustainability at Perlo

A focus on sustainability is woven into all Perlo projects, demonstrated by our past and current projects that include a variety of renewable energy systems that meet LEED and Living Building Challenge standards, and push the exploration of sustainable options to pursue during building. Not only did Perlo recently complete Oregon’s first commercial Living Building Challenge project for an office tenant in Portland, we also purchased enough renewable energy through Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Green Future Enterprise in 2021 to prevent over 978,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the air.

Case Study: Mahlum Architects TI

As the first Living Building Challenge (LBC) certified commercial project in Portland, achieving the Material Pedal, Mahlum’s updated space is a testament of sustainability. LBC is hailed as the most rigorous sustainable building program in the world. This was achieved by utilizing elements such as reclaimed wood from Fort Vancouver and custom curio shelves, as well as custom front doors wrapped in reclaimed wood to match the surrounding cladding.

Perlo enforced the processes necessary to recycle almost 95% of waste materials generated onsite during construction.

Learn More >>

What is PGE’s Green Future Enterprise?

PGE’s Green Future Enterprise is one of its Renewable Power Programs, which allow individuals and businesses, both small and large, to mitigate their carbon footprints by choosing renewable energy sources such as wind power, hydropower, and solar power. This program aims to accelerate the speed of renewable deployment in Oregon and influence businesses, the community, and other utilities to choose cleaner energy.

Renewable Energy Sources in Construction

So, what exactly is renewable energy, and how can we use it on our jobsites to help create more sustainable practices in our industry? According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, renewable energy is defined as “energy produced from sources like the sun and wind that are naturally replenished and do not run out.” The construction industry has a long history of using nonrenewable energy sources in its practices to do things such as operating heavy equipment and machinery, as well as illuminating jobsites and generating heat and electricity for buildings. Reports show that heavy construction machinery in the United States takes up approximately 6 billion gallons of nonrenewable fuels annually.


Energy is used throughout the lifetime of a construction project, from preconstruction and initial planning to manufacturing construction products to demolition and waste disposal. While this can be draining, it also provides ample opportunity for sustainable practices to be used. For construction, renewable energy use comes in three main forms—wind power, solar power, and hydropower, although other forms can include biomass, geothermal, and even tidal energy. Decisions about energy-based sustainable construction techniques are guaranteed to have a positive impact following the completion of a project.

Solar Power

Solar power, as the name implies, is an inexhaustible source of energy that comes from the sun. Construction sites can benefit from solar energy by adopting solar-powered machines and illuminating jobsites with products like solar lanterns.

Wind Power

Coming from the energy created by wind farms and turbines, wind energy is an extremely cost-effective option for renewable energy. Because the cost is so low to adopt wind energy, construction companies have the option of partnering with wind power farms to get their energy, thereby helping to fund farm owners and support the estimated 60,000 turbines across the United States.


Hydropower, coming from the flow of water, is a flexible and clean option, and one of the most utilized. According to, “Because hydropower plants can generate power to the grid immediately, they provide essential backup power during major electricity outages or disruptions.” In addition, hydropower is affordable and can help mitigate construction costs by using preexisting structures such as bridges, tunnels, and dams.

“Constructing sustainable buildings requires a partnership with both owners and tenants in terms of saving energy, using less water, and the many other elements that go along with sustainable development and living.”

Waste Disposal and Recycling Materials

While these renewable energies provide a huge opportunity for construction companies to aid in energy conservation, significant effort can also go into the final stages of a building’s life. This includes repurposing a building for a different use and/or salvaging building materials for future use on a different project. These practices help extend the lifetime of existing resources and save a significant amount of energy and money when it comes to transportation costs, labor, and machinery use when disposing of waste.

Downsides of Renewable Energy

While renewable energy reaps amazing benefits for the environment, there are still challenges faced when using them. Technological advancements have made renewable energy usage more accessible and affordable for individuals and businesses alike, but the rate at which it can be produced to keep up with the increasing demand is limited.

Factors such as the cost of new technologies, weather variables, and land constraints all limit the rate at which we can use renewable energy. Wind, solar, and hydropower all rely on specific environmental determinants. Issues with available land also applies to most renewable energy sources, with wind fields requiring up to 100 times more space than that needed by oil field infrastructure.

Changing with the Times

Wind power, solar power, and hydropower are all ideal resources for green construction, with the ability to be harnessed and stored in the short term. Improving resource efficiency has the potential to make the construction industry more competitive and environmentally friendly.

Although there are both upsides and downsides that come with switching to renewable energies, some of the greatest emissions reductions to date have been demonstrated in the energy sector. One report from the Engineering News Record found that the adoption of solar and wind power played a massive role in decreasing construction operating costs to levels even below that of the cost of fossil fuels.

Final Thoughts

All in all, renewable energy sources are a great way to help make the United States just a little bit greener. Perlo’s push for more sustainable construction alternatives is demonstrated through our participation in PGE’s Green Future Enterprise and in our innovative building practices.

If more sustainable practices are of interest to you on your next building project, we encourage you to speak with our estimating teams about the options available and potential cost impacts to your project.

This week, we’re joining contractors across the country in acknowledging Safety Week from May 2 – 6, 2022. Safety is a topic within the industry that has grown in recent years to be a top priority for all reputable contractors, with an emphasis on ensuring that the workplace for construction crew members be physically and emotionally safe. These efforts will undoubtedly make for a stronger workplace with long term, healthy employees that can work in their respective trades for many years.

Most contractors have some form of a safety program in place to provide training, enforcement and record keeping. Measuring the success of those programs to evaluate how safely a company operates isn’t as simple as it might seem, but there are efforts to standardize certain measurements to compare companies to each other as well as gauge performance and improvement over time.

Safety Units of Measurement

Today, we will spend some time reviewing what units of measurement exist and how they are used to gauge the safety record of a given company. These measurements include:

  • Experience Modification Rate – EMR
  • Days Away, Restricted, or Transferred – DART
  • Total Recordable Incident Rate – TRIR

In addition to these more formal measurements, individual companies will track several other benchmarks and measurables to watch for trends in their safety program, including:

  • Total number of employees
  • Total employee work areas
  • Total number of deaths
  • Total number of lost workday cases
  • Total recordable injury/illness cases
  • OSHA citations

Lagging vs. Leading Indicators

The above listed measurement tools are all lagging indicators; as in, they’re based on past incidents as opposed to predicting future performance through leading indicators. Leading indicators might include measurables such as:

  • Worker attendance rates at safety meetings.
  • Response time by management to potential safety incidents.
  • Frequency of safety audits performed on jobsites.

Evaluating the leading indicators for a safety program is an important tool in creating a positive, safe culture for construction work. However, these measurables aren’t as standardized as the lagging indicators that we will be reviewing today. We will focus primarily on the EMR, DART and TRIR measurements, how they’re calculated and what that means for contractors and clients.

Experience Modification Rate

The EMR, also referred to as a ‘mod’ rate, for a given company is a three-year lagging indicator based on workers’ compensation claims paid on behalf of the contractor. Created by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the EMR rating helps insurance companies determine the cost of the premium to insure the company.

To calculate the EMR rate, payroll and loss data is evaluated over time. Calculating the EMR is a bit complicated. It considers multiple factors to review both the frequency and severity of lost time due to injuries occurring on the job. Companies with numerous claims or very expensive claims will both factor into a raised rate, but more weight is given to high frequencies of injuries than the expense of only one.

For a detailed explanation of the factors and formula for calculating the EMR, visit this article published by the NCCI.

One critical piece to remember about the EMR is that it is a lagging indicator. If a contractor is subject to a large claim in one year, it will negatively affect their EMR rating for three years following. Said contractor may have demonstrated significant improvements to their safety program, or had few to no claims, and still be ‘penalized’ for past claims.

The average EMR rating for construction is 1.0, with companies that perform better than average scoring below, and those who score worse above 1.0.

Days Away, Restricted or Transferred

The DART rating, or ‘Days Away, Restricted or Transferred’ is a measurement developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that measures three factors:

Away Incidents
The number of days employees are absent because of a work-related injury or illness.

Restricted Incidents
The number of days an employee must perform a modified work assignment due to work related illness or injury.

Transferred Incidents
The number of days an employee is transferred to another job because they cannot complete their normal duties due to a work-related injury or illness.

The DART rate is based, in theory, on relatively severe incidents since it is based on lost or modified workdays. As of 2018, the average DART rate for the construction industry was 1.8.

It’s in a company’s best interest to reduce all of these types of incidents, as they all reflect on productivity and therefore, profitability. Additionally, regulatory bodies such as local building departments or the local health and safety administration may increase the number of random inspections that occur on sites run by contractors with higher DART ratings. A higher DART rating, in essence, equates to a riskier company in terms of worker safety.

The DART rating is based on the following formula:

An example of a DART calculation if a company works 250,000 annual hours, with 4 restricted duty days and 2 transfer days:

DART RATE = (4 + 2) x 200,000 / 400,000 = 3

Total Recordable Incident Rate

The TRIR, or Total Recordable Incident Rate, is based on all OSHA-recordable incidents in a company, including those that do not require lost or modified workdays. The TRIR rate will typically be higher than the DART rate, since that rate is only based on more severe incidents that do result in missed workdays or modified duty. The formula for TRIR is as follows:

If we follow our above example, let’s say the same company has 4 incidents in addition to the restructure or transfer days, for a total of 10 incidents:

TRIR = 10 X 200,000 / 400,000 = 5

A good rule of thumb for TRIR is to have a number less than 3.0, as the average is 3.1.

How to Lower EMR, DART and TRIR Rates

While all three of the rates we’ve discussed today are lagging indicators based on past incidents, they do affect insurance rates and sometimes the ability to work for certain clients. They may also be used as a means of comparing contractors to each other in a proposal or bid scenario. Those with higher safety scores may be easy targets to remove from competition.

The key to lowering all of these rates is to reduce the number of injuries that occur onsite. Action items include implementing a full-scale safety plan, enforcing OSHA rules and regulations, hiring safety managers and/or coordinators to provide in-house audits and education, and changing the culture of site crew members to embrace safe work practices. 

Lowering these safety ratings to below average at a minimum brings many benefits, including, but not limited to:

  • Workers are genuinely safer and healthier when on the jobsite.
  • Insurance rates are reduced.
  • Eligibility to work for large corporate clients or otherwise safety-conscious clients increases.
  • The frequency of inspections by OSHA or other governing bodies are reduced.

The effort and cost to create a safe work culture can pay back tenfold for both a company and their workforce.

Final Thoughts

As we walk through safety week 2022, we want to think about the large and small consequences of jobsite safety. If you want more resources on safety in the industry, we encourage you to check out some of our past articles on the topic below.

The risks involved in construction are numerous and include a wide variety, from the safety of crews and surrounding structures or pedestrians, to materials acquisition challenges and labor availability. While the day-to-day challenges are many, one lesser known but highly prevalent problem for contractors is the theft of equipment and materials. Exact statistics are difficult to pinpoint, as not all losses are tracked and reported, but it’s estimated that equipment and material theft costs contractors in the United States more than $1 billion each year. Theft has far reaching consequences besides simply the dollar value in the stolen equipment and materials.

Theft can result in:

  • Lost time due to productivity losses while replacements are found.
  • Added labor costs for replacing materials, contacting insurance companies and completing claims.
  • The need for tracking lost items and adding replacement items into inventory and rental logs.
  • Unsafe conditions left by vandalism (exposed energized wires, i.e.)

The targeted jobsite may also experience damage to structures, sites, temporary protection, or other materials that are left behind. The inconveniences and challenges are many, and the ramifications of the issue aren’t important only for contractors, but also for the public that must ultimately foot the bill to cover the higher cost of construction that results.

Theft Prevention on Construction Sites

There are efforts underway within the industry to minimize the occurrence of theft, primarily through education and reward programs for whistle blowers. The Associated General Contractors of America has a recent podcast episode on the topic of prevention. Many items are regularly stolen from jobsites. These include:

  • Small power tools
  • Generators
  • Stored fuel
  • Vehicles
  • Earthwork equipment
  • Materials like lumber and copper
  • Equipment batteries

There is a myriad of ways to protect these items, depending on the specifics of the jobsite. The first step is to have an accurate inventory of all items onsite, either on a spreadsheet or with a software system like ToolWatch. In addition to this list, the single largest factor in preventing theft is to make the ability to steal things difficult. The longer it takes to snatch items, the higher likelihood that the thieves are caught and the bigger the theft deterrent will be.

Perlo is also an avid supporter of the Construction Industry Crime Prevention Program of the Pacific Northwest (CICP). This Oregon-based nonprofit organization is focused on the prevention and reduction of theft and vandalism on commercial construction sites across the Pacific Northwest through active participation in a variety of sectors such as building trade associations, contractors, law enforcement agencies, and more. Members of this program have access to site signage, site security walkthroughs, alert systems, education and training, and a variety of other benefits that help keep jobsites safe and secure.

Todd Duwe, Perlo’s Vice President of Business Development and a Board of Directors member for CICP, remarks, “CICP is a fantastic resource to utilize. From jobsite signage to safety consultations to a unique partnership with local law enforcement, this organization provides the necessary resources for theft prevention in our industry.”

Theft Prevention Tips

In general, it’s important to find ways to minimize the view of valuables, and secondarily, to secure them with fencing, locks, or otherwise blocking access to items that can’t be hidden. Some general tips to prevent jobsite theft include:

Tip 1
Store tools, equipment and materials indoors as often as possible.

Theft deterrence is best achieved by preventing visibility of valuables, as well as increasing the difficulty required to access them. When possible, indoor storage is the most secure option.

Tip 2
Erect and maintain site fencing at the perimeter, with secure locks at all entrances.

Site fencing must be secure and contiguous, without any gaps between or underneath panels, and should be inspected regularly for tampered connection fittings or cut wires. Additional fencing may be necessary for materials storage, as well. Padlocks should never be left unlocked. A known strategy of thieves is to replace an unlocked padlock with one of their own in the hopes that it will go unnoticed. The more layers a thief must pass through, the less likely they will be to attempt to steal the materials.

Tip 3
Park heavy equipment at all entry and exit gates to prevent thieves from entering with vehicles.

Limiting the ability for vehicles to access a site is also a factor in reducing how much can be stolen. Fencing may not be enough of a deterrent to keep someone from ramming through for access. Parking large equipment behind the gates may still allow an individual to pass through, but not their transportation. In addition to blocking access points, it’s important to disable the equipment being used by removing batteries, pulling a fuse to prevent operation or using technology to prevent its operation.

Tip 4
Install security cameras with ongoing monitoring by a reputable security contractor.

Security systems should include cameras on entrances/exits, construction offices, and near stored vehicles and materials. The security company should be informed of work hours vs. non-working hours, as well as a chain of individuals that can be reached in the event of trespass. One critical component of a good security system is to inform the security company when the layout of the site has changed. This information is relayed to first responders in the event of a break-in so that those first onsite have a good idea of where to look for the offenders.

Tip 5
Install motion sensor lights.

Lighting in general can be a deterrent to thieves, as visibility is not their friend. Motion sensor lights have been proving effective in deterring trespassers, as well. When it’s not reasonable to light up an entire site, motion sensor lights can be a great alternative, drawing attention to any activities taking place during dark hours.

Tip 6
Secure all tools in locked containers, as hidden from public view as possible.

Out of sight is out of mind. As often as possible, items should be stored out of sight. Storage containers, temporary offices and tool storage boxes such as Jobox or KNAAK can be valuable in making access to tools and materials difficult. Adding layers of fencing or blocking access to the storage containers can increase the security of them. Deterring theft is about making it difficult for a thief to access, so the more layers added on for security, the better.

Tip 7
Publicly post working hours for awareness.

Particularly in populated areas, posting jobsite hours can help casual observers know when workers should or should not be onsite. Thieves have been known to wear hard hats and safety vests in an attempt to ‘blend in’ with a regular construction crew, such that passersby may not be aware they shouldn’t be onsite.  

Tip 8
Hire private security firms to complete drive-bys at regular but unpredictable intervals.

In addition to cameras and virtual security monitoring, some sites may be well-served by security companies with security guards that drive by regularly to look for unusual activity. It’s also possible to hire full time security to station onsite when crews aren’t working. While this might be a more costly option, it may pay for itself in terms of savings achieved if theft is prevented.

An Eye for Theft

Get to know your neighbors. A polite introduction and a little goodwill can go a long way in encouraging them to look out on your behalf.

In addition to the above listed measures, it’s critical that site supervisors and crew members walk the site daily to look at many factors, including:

  • Potential access points
  • Blown-down or removed fencing
  • Removal of site barriers or visual deterrents
  • Power sources and functionality of camera systems and lighting
  • Locations to park heavy equipment to block access

At the close of working hours, one individual should be responsible for checking all locks, ensuring that equipment is secure and security elements are in place as planned. With a careful eye for details, site crews can help prevent theft.

Asset tracking is another component of reducing theft and/or recovering equipment if it is stolen. An increase in GPS technologies have made it possible to add ID tags with tracking capabilities. Items like Samsara’s dash cameras can track vehicles in real time. Smaller trackers like Apple’s AirTag can be an option, as well. Additionally, there are more and more technology options for smaller power tools for digital asset tracking that make recovering stolen items more feasible.

Final Thoughts

Theft on jobsites is an expensive problem for contractors and for construction costs as a whole. Special care should be taken to utilize preventive measures to minimize the opportunity for theft of materials, equipment and tools. As with other site logistics considerations, proper planning will help mitigate and reduce the opportunity for theft from a given jobsite.

“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

Thank you for joining us for Episode Four of the Perlo Podcast! Host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo, is joined by two Perlo superintendents, George Trice and Mark Helling, to talk more about their experiences in the field.

George started with Perlo in 1994 as a carpenter in the field before moving into a foreman role and later a superintendent role in 2005. He has completed dozens of projects for Perlo with a focus in industrial tilt-up buildings. Mark, on the other hand, was a carpenter for 30 years before moving into a foreman role in 2006 and a superintendent role in 2012. Mark has completed a variety of projects since being a superintendent for Perlo, including multiple wineries, food service buildings, and industrial projects.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
George Trice
Project Superintendent
Mark Helling
Project Superintendent

Typical Day in the Life and Coming Up Through the Ranks

According to George, although the environment on the jobsite can be serious, there is a lot of room to make everyday fun. Mark notes that the ultimate goal is to make sure the gets job done while still boosting team morale. The most important aspects to accomplish this are showing up early, making sure that jobs are ready to go, and ensuring the crews know what they’re doing. However, no matter how much preparation goes into the day, there will always be unforeseen circumstances that come up.

George remarks that he and Mark “read in the gray” back when they were partners. This meant that they didn’t receive the same supervision that we currently have to ensure everyone gets home safely at the end of every day.

“A carpenter and a rebar tier fall into an elevator pit, who comes out first?”

Tales from the Field

With many years of experience, it is no surprise that George and Mark have many stories from their time on the field. Elissa asks: “A carpenter and a rebar tier fall into an elevator pit, who comes out first?” According to George, this experience (which was intended to be a friendly wrestling joke) became a fall into an elevator pit back in the early 2000s!

George and Mark reminisce on working “back in the day,” where there was a lot more room for joking around without the same safety standards we have to think about nowadays. George notes one experience with another Perlo Superintendent, Fred Lutz. After Fred hit his hand with a sledgehammer, George’s response was to “put some dirt on it.” However, after going to the doctor, the team realized that Fred had been working two days with a broken hand!

Mark notes that a lot has changed since then, when you were expected to just figure things out without the extensive planning that now goes into projects. In the past, carpenters were thought of as being “more seasoned” due to completing the same types of projects over and over again. With that being said, Mark notes that we are still getting great talent here at Perlo. While the newer crews may work a bit differently than they did 20 years ago, they are accompanied by much more technical skill that many did not have back then. George agrees, and notes that in those days, it was always more of a competition to be the best worker and do the best job.

According to Mark, “All it takes is one good worker to make the rest of the team better.” He notes that not only is Perlo finding great workers, but we’re retaining them. We have also noticed an increase in mentorships, even if somewhat unintentional.

“I would say that is why I like Perlo. The history, relationships, and handful of great people that you’ve worked with back then and today is who you associate the company with,” says Mark. In response to this statement, Elissa notes that there has indeed been a lot of change over the years, especially in safety and culture initiatives that are now dictated by the clients and the industry. “Evolve or die,” Mark states. Although they are hyper-focused on getting the job done, they remark that it is still important to make the extra effort day in and day out.

How Mark and George got into the Construction Industry

When Mark was in high school, school wasn’t his main focus. Later down the road in his schooling, he found a father-son duo with a construction company that had two generations of skilled workers. The duo decided to bring construction into high school classes to mentor students and give them different perspective on trades to get into. Not only did Mark relate to the younger son, but he also found something that he felt could finally be his focus.

He notes that the class was filled with more difficult students that enjoyed pulling practical pranks on the teacher for their class. Three mornings a week, the students would pile into two vans and travel to jobsites. Their practical pranks included filling the air vents on the van dashboard with dairy-free creamer and filling the hubcaps with rocks! Jokes aside, this teacher ended up offering Mark a full-time job after leaving high-school. Mark remarks that he’s not sure what he would’ve done if it hadn’t been for this program and his past teacher.

George got into construction right after high school, as well. George and Tim Kofstad, Perlo General Superintendent, were best friends for about 17 years and around 1993, Tim asked George if he wanted to be a carpenter, and George accepted.

What is Rewarding About this Job?

To George, when he drives by a job with his family, a great feeling comes from being able to say, “I did that.” Mark enjoys a hard day’s work and seeing everything that has been accomplished at the end of the day.

Nowadays, it is sometimes harder to find satisfaction within a day because there are always obstacles and frustrations that arise. However, from the supervision aspect, it’s rewarding when you get people to work together. To Mark, if you can keep everybody positive and productive, that’s the most rewarding part of the job.

“Treating people better makes people work harder for you.”

What Should you Know Before Getting into this Industry?

To George, the biggest thing to know about this industry is how to deal with people, and that treating people better makes people work harder for you.

From Mark’s perspective, going into construction is a great living, even though there are many different paths to this career. Mark got advice from his high school teacher’s father that said, “If you’re going to be in construction, you need to be prepared to work with some rough people and develop a thick skin. It’s a career, but the job is not the career – the trade is the career. Every day, you’re working yourself out of a job just by completing it.” With that being said, Mark prioritizes the fact that in this field, you have to be able to find a new job and be okay with contacting different people to find your next hustle.

Final Thoughts
Both Mark and George agree that they’ve been extremely fortunate with Perlo over the years and that at the end of the day, you just need to have the drive to grow in life. Perlo is always looking for new talent to join our team. If you’re interested in a superintendent role, contact us now to find out about our open opportunities and visit our careers page today.

This week’s feature in our Women in Construction series is Rebecca Cook, Perlo’s IT Manager. Rebecca is a 17-year Perlo veteran and has witnessed many changes within Perlo and in the world of information technology. Read on to learn more about Rebecca’s journey into the construction industry.

What is your current role, and what does it entail?

I am Perlo’s IT Manager. With that, my day-to-day involves oversight of all IT related items including communications, technology, and infrastructure.

What led you to the construction industry?

Although my grandfather was a general contractor and my father was a self-employed subcontractor, my background was actually in medical. I was an EMT by the time I was eighteen years old and loved everything about it, with no plans to go into the construction industry.  

After my husband and I moved from California to Oregon, I was in search of a job and ended up meeting Crystal Bentley. Crystal, who is currently the Lead Assistant Project Manager at Perlo and had been working there back when it was still Perlo McCormack Pacific, informed me that her job was hiring in insurance.

Being an EMT, I could see the connection between the medical field and insurance and decided to go for it. Thinking it would be a temporary stint, I started as a part-time Insurance Coordinator. However, as soon as the company realized I was good with computers, I became more of a jack of all trades. Especially with the small group of employees at the time, I spent time in Accounts Payable, Reception, and even served as a Safety Coordinator for ten years. My position evolved over time into what it is now, and I really appreciate all of the different opportunities and experiences that Perlo offers.

What do you think the most interesting thing about IT Manager is?

I enjoy that we’re so innovative and that we keep expanding into what’s possible and next on the horizon. When I first started, our superintendents weren’t using computers. From implementing those computers to the field to now looking at the advancements in cloud technologies, it’s clear how much has expanded over the years.

It’s so interesting to see everything that has helped keep Perlo growing and expanding the way it has been. It’s so much easier nowadays to get information back and forth and communicate. Back when I first started, everything was on paper. Now, you can get information much quicker because you don’t have to ask someone to go digging for a physical file. It’s great to bring in that flexibility for employees to do their work efficiently every day.

What do you think is the biggest challenge about your role?

I would say the biggest challenge is finding the right fit for the current technology. It can be a challenge to find software that can work with and improve your current technology environment and integrate in a seamless way.

What skills are required to be successful?

Both in my position and in the construction industry in general, communication is the number one most important skill to have. You must be flexible and have a sense of project management in terms of logically connecting an idea and the implementation of that idea. Not only do you have to be able to implement an idea, but you have to be a team player to implement others’ needs and wants. At the end of the day, it all comes down to communication skills.

What changes have you seen in IT over the course of your career?

The biggest change is seeing a device, or even multiple devices, in every hand. When I first arrived at Perlo, email was just being implemented. Now we have people with computers, cell phones, iPads, and more in their hands.

Another big change I’ve seen is the onsite access that is now available to our superintendents, foremen, and other crew members. Onsite personnel had to adapt to remote internet connections, emails on the cloud, and handling video conferences through zoom. Although it was adapted and accepted easily, it wasn’t always that way. A huge change that many of our onsite crews had to adapt to years ago was the implementation from written to online timecards!

Do you see women advancing in the industry? Why or why not?

Yes. I think it can be hard to get into this industry because generally, people don’t understand all that you do. There are so many different levels of the construction industry, and it all comes down to educating those who are young on all of the opportunities available

What is some of the best advice you have received when it comes to women working in construction?

My mother and father were always the types of people to give the advice that “you can do anything.” I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had this advice and grew up knowing that if you put your mind to it and do the hard work, you can accomplish anything. I would give the same advice to anyone.

Do you have any favorite stories or memories you can share from your career?

I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a favorite story or memory, but I would say that old memories are a part of our culture. It’s always nice to remember where we came from. Perlo is trying to expand, but having shared memories with those around you is what makes the biggest difference. When you start somewhere, the best memories come from trying to make an impact and seeing things get better from that day forward.

What kind of culture shift have you seen at Perlo?

I believe we have grown our culture into something that everyone can feel involved in. We all join forces and have the freedom to plan anything or become invested in a Perlo committee. It gives employees the chance to feel validated, and there is something for everyone. When people feel invested, it helps Perlo make the changes that keep it a great place to work.

Whenever we tell people about the fun and unique things we do, they always say they want to work here. We promote our culture, because the changes make employees want to work hard so that they can join in on the fun.

What is your mantra or favorite quote?

“See a need, fill a need.” I truly believe that if something needs to happen, you just have to jump in and do it. One of the Perlo practices says that everyone takes out the trash. I believe that if there is an opportunity for you to help, you should.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I personally feel so lucky to work here, be involved, and be able to both watch and help Perlo grow. Perlo as a company invests so much time into their employees to ensure we’re all growing and, most importantly, having fun in the process.

Final Thoughts

Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your story as a woman in construction! For more information on our Women in Construction series, visit us here.

Construction takes place in many locations, often without the general public present. However, many projects are completed in spaces where it’s not feasible to move occupants out while completing the work. When a space is occupied, unique challenges exist when it comes to getting work completed safely while minimizing any disruption in the health and productivity of the day-to-day occupants.

Today, we will look at the challenges presented when construction occurs in occupied spaces and tips for how to overcome them.

1. Maintaining Safety of Building Crews and Day-to-Day Users

Jobsite safety is always a top priority on construction sites. This priority increases when members of the general public will be or are expected to be nearby, and even more so if they’ll be occupying the same space as the construction crews.

Safety is established in a variety of ways, with most having a developed plan tailored specifically to each jobsite. Teams should consider all factors, including:

What is the location of the non-construction personnel?

  • Do any existing walls separate them, or will a temporary wall or barrier be needed?
  • Will work be occurring overhead? If so, what kind of protection must be erected?
  • Is there a chance that debris could reach occupants?

What age and demographic are nearby?

  • School aged-children or those with special needs may require extra precautions, such as hard-walled barriers.
  • Incarcerated or mentally ill occupants may need hard-walled barriers that are unable to be weaponized in any way.

Are the nearby occupants going to be the same people each day, or are they members of the general population that differ on a daily basis?

  • If occupants are in the space from day-to-day, more direct communication protocols can be established to determine entry points and walkways.
  • If the space is designated for public use, such as an airport, zoo, or other public building, extremely clear barriers and signage must be erected to communicate effectively with passers-by.

In addition to considering the people in the building, contractors must have plans in place to protect the existing building elements and equipment. Spaces that include food manufacturing or healthcare facilities will have additional protocols required to protect products and/or patients. In Mission Critical facilities, safety of the existing mechanical systems maintaining servers is paramount.

Attractive Nuisances

Avoiding disruption and maintaining safety often hinges on reducing attractive nuisances. An attractive nuisance is anything on the project that is both dangerous and enticing to children. Examples include, but are not limited to: heavy machinery, fence climbing, scaffolding, and construction materials or debris. Project signs ( i.e., No Trespassing) are not generally considered preventative measures. To minimize these attractive nuisances, project teams must:

  • Remove the hazard(s)
  • Discard construction debris on a daily, if not hourly, basis
  • Secure and obscure the hazard(s)
  • Lock heavy equipment doors and/or remove keys
  • Remove, store out of reach, or secure ladders
  • Provide locked enclosures around scaffolding/stair towers
  • Provide a fenced storage area for stored construction materials
  • Ensure fencing includes driven posts to prevent displacement
  • Consider opaque fence fabric along public areas

While production and quality are near the top of the priority list for every construction company, the safety of workers and occupants is the most important of them all. Great consideration should always be given to this topic to ensure that at the end of the day, workers and occupants all return home safely.

2. Minimizing Noise, Dust and Odors

Construction is inherently dirty, with saw-cutting and demolition procedures often generating dust and debris, activities such as paint and carpet installation generating odors, and more. Occupants are understandably averse to experiencing the effects of noise, dust and odor, requiring contractors to find ways to prevent these factors from affecting building users.

With special care, the noise, dust and debris can be minimized. Some strategies may include:

Minimizing Dust

  • Use wet-saw techniques and vacuums
  • Enclose areas of demolition
  • Utilize floor sweep products
  • Cover vents with filters
  • Utilize mechanical air scrubbers

Minimizing Noise

  • Schedule noisy activities for unoccupied hours
  • Utilize hand tools in lieu of power tools
  • Complete pre-fabrication efforts off-site and assemble onsite
  • Schedule work windows where noise is allowed, accepted, and has been communicated with building users
  • Utilize prefabricated wall systems such as Dirtt

Minimizing Odors

  • Utilize Low or No VOC products
  • Utilize charcoal filters on mechanical systems
  • Install negative air machines with air exhaust to the outdoors

A failure to prevent dust, noise and odor from interrupting building users can be inconvenient at best, and dangerous at worst. Containment of contaminants is vital in locations such as hospitals and other medical facilities. In office or school settings, dust, noise or odor can cause headaches or other symptoms, forcing lost work time by occupants in addition to inconvenience and possible pain.

3. Developing Effective Phases and Schedules

Safety, health and productivity are all optimized with proper planning. This includes phasing work areas, staging prep space, and creating effective schedules that account for maximizing work while minimizing disruption to occupants. Phasing plans and work schedules all tie into the larger site logistics strategy for a given project.

A variety of factors will play into this planning, including, but not limited to:

  • Building work hours and occupancy levels
  • The location of the construction work relative to occupants
  • The complexity of the work:
    • Can the work be completed in a single shift? Or must it be completed in multiple shifts over time?
    • Will the work disrupt utilities that serve the building?
    • Will the work take place directly above or around occupants?
    • How much labor is required to complete the work?

As the saying goes, ‘Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance’. Planning for phasing and scheduling of the work is critical to maintain safety and productivity in occupied spaces.

4. Minimizing Utility Interruptions

A significant challenge when completing construction work in occupied spaces relates to modifying utility services such as plumbing, electrical, mechanical and fire protection systems, as well as security and low voltage. Let’s look at some examples of modifications to those systems and the simplified ways to minimize interruptions to existing operations:

Upgrade electrical service to add capacity.
This process requires shutting down the building power to add the new capacity to the system. Some options for minimizing the interruption might include:

  • Preparing prior to a shutdown by coordinating an optimal time, usually off-hours. This shut down must be coordinated with, at minimum, the building occupants and owners/manager, the electrical utility company, and security company. 
  • Utilizing a temporary generator to maintain power to the building while the shutdown occurs.

Modify the fire protection system to add or remove sprinkler heads:

  • Notify the fire alarm company to put the alarm system in ‘test’ mode during the work.
  • Utilize personnel for temporary fire watch while the system is shut down.

There are many examples of means of minimizing interruptions during utility modifications. The most important steps in the process include extensive communication with all affected parties. These entities include the building occupants, ownership and/or management company, the utility company(ies) involved, all associated alarm companies and trade partners.

With extensive communication, the best path forward can be identified and implemented.

5. Coordination of Staging Areas and Materials Storage

In today’s tumultuous climate of long lead items and procurement challenges due to supply chain constraints, it’s more important than ever to ensure materials are procured on time to meet the schedule for the work. This may mean ordering materials earlier than previously required, and in turn, having a place to store them. The most ideal location is onsite to simplify logistics, but site constraints may prohibit this as an option.

Part of the preconstruction planning process for any project includes looking at the timing for materials procurement and where to store them upon arrival. The size and availability of space on a given site determines how much material can be staged in that location. When a building or space is occupied by the public, the options for storage are often more limited than on a vacant site. It’s not ideal for materials to be moved multiple times, so it may be more conducive to store them offsite and bring them to the job on a just-in-time basis.

As with all aspects of the site, planning for the storage and staging of materials must be done in conjunction with the building users to minimize the impact to their operations.

Final Thoughts

Proper planning is the key to solving all challenges related to occupied space construction. With proper planning, any challenges that arise during the work can be optimally navigated and solved in a manner that minimizes delays and interruption to building occupants.

Our teams are knowledgeable about the challenges involved in completing work in occupied spaces. If you’re considering a project, get in touch with us to discuss your options.

Completing a construction project can take years of in-depth planning and execution, and when finished, the question remains: how do you celebrate new architecture? Ribbon cuttings are ceremonies used by many around the world to inaugurate the opening of a brand new or newly renovated building or business.

They are most often used for the following:

  • As a powerful tool for publicity and the media.
  • To commemorate a “new beginning” for the business in question.
  • To inform the public and the community alike about the existence and mission of the building.

What is a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony?

Ribbon cutting ceremonies take place to inaugurate an organization’s first day of business or can take place weeks or even months after a business’ soft opening. They act as an opportunity for business owners and leaders to talk about what their business does and publicly thank those who had an important role in making their business come to fruition. These entities include:

  • Stakeholders
  • Employees
  • Business partners
  • Contractors and architects
  • Friends and family
  • Clients

Ribbon cutting ceremonies are typically orchestrated with an actual ribbon tied across the main entrance of a building, which is later cut in a ceremonial fashion with a significantly large pair of scissors. The ribbon is usually cut by a person of influence, such as the owner of the building or a member of the local Chamber of Commerce.

While grand openings and ribbon cutting ceremonies are often used interchangeably, the meaning of both are quite distinct. Grand openings are large, publicized events that announce the official opening of a new establishment to the public and can feature elaborate presentations such as fireworks and celebrity attendees. Ribbon cuttings generally take place at opening ceremonies, although they can be held both publicly and privately. Ribbons have a longstanding ceremonial significance, often being used to hang medals or be worn as a sash or other decoration. These ribbons are a sign of prestige, making them the perfect material to use for a ceremony of this kind.

Origins of Ceremonial Scissors

Abnormally large sized scissors, anywhere from 25”-40” in length, are used to cut the ribbon. The scissors are often gold in color but are known to have been made custom for a variety of famous customers such as Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Lady Gaga, Google, and Target. The origin of these giant scissors can be traced back to the Bronze Age, with examples dating back over 3,000 years and later modernized in Rome, China, Japan, and Korea. However, custom scissors for these ceremonies were only invented and popularized in 1997.

The Beginning of Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

Similar to groundbreaking ceremonies, the exact origin of ribbon cutting ceremonies are largely unknown. However, we do know that these ceremonies gained popularity in the late 1800’s after a ribbon cutting occurred at the opening of a Louisiana railroad line.

Railway Traditions

The Louisiana railway and the rise of the modern interstate highway system in the United States is what ultimately spurred the increase in demand for ribbon cutting ceremonies. The creation of new bridges, tunnels, and roadways reflected a desire for a “clear path” forward and have since been a staple in American culture to celebrate newly constructed feats.

Image source: Cape May Magazine

Boat and Dock Christenings

However, some of the earliest examples of these ceremonies date back to the late 19th century in the United Kingdom during boat and dock christenings, which involved smashing wine bottles against a ship and, at times, included a ribbon. Records can also be tied back to traditional wedding celebrations across Europe, in which cut ribbons were placed over the door of the family home to symbolize new freedom and the conquering of obstacles for couples.

Image source: Crownline Boats

Modern Significance of Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

Ribbon cutting ceremonies act as a way to celebrate the new beginning of a business that has been months or even years in the making. Similar to slicing a wedding cake, throwing a cap and mortar in the air upon graduation, or removing a ribbon from a nicely packaged gift, the act of cutting a ribbon into two pieces symbolizes the idea of new beginnings and builds anticipation with the promise of an exciting future.

In construction, these ceremonies are used to announce the opening of an impressive building and introduce both the public and Chamber members to your business and your products/services. Perlo had the honor of participating in one recent ceremony for Nuna Baby, a tenant improvement on a two-story office and warehouse located in Vancouver, Washington.

“The Perlo team was an integral part of this process and we, along with our trade partners, were informed by our client weeks in advance of the planned celebration to help make it a success.”

Nick David, Perlo Project Manager

The Public Relations Side of Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

Ribbon cutting ceremonies in modern times are powerful tools for generating positive press and for public relations and media purposes. Not only does this bring more brand awareness and potential customers to a company, but it helps create a lasting impression by carrying out a visual performance. It also provides a chance to mingle and network with coworkers, peers and community members, and provides an opportunity to thank those who have made contributions towards making the establishment a success. “We took extra care and coordination to ensure that the hard work, quality, and dedication of our trade partners was acknowledged and showcased at the ceremony,” says David.

Additionally, ribbon cutting ceremonies generate media coverage through the speeches of prominent public figures. Whether it be the client, developer of a project, member of the Chamber of Commerce, or Mayor of the city, these speeches provide an excellent platform to showcase how a company has met its mission and can now be a place of business for the community. Regarding Nuna Baby, David notes that, “The company owner was flying in from Taiwan and was in attendance along with the Mayor from the City of Vancouver, Nuna Baby leadership, employees, and their families,” demonstrating just how important these ceremonies are to those involved.

The ceremonial tools utilized in ribbon cuttings are often reserved for the business heads and leadership teams who were instrumental in initiating, supporting, or running the business. As the ceremonial scissors made their way into the hands of more visible public figures, they became an opportunity for promotion. The larger the scissors, the bigger the opportunity for media attention.

Attendees and public figures also have the opportunity to pose with the ribbon and scissors to serve as commemorative photos for future company archives as well as exposure in public newspapers or other media outlets.

Final Thoughts

Ribbon cutting ceremonies represent a major milestone and positive turning point for companies and can have a profound impact on the publicity, promotion, and long-term success of businesses and individuals. Not only can these ceremonies attract local politicians, celebrities, and notable figures of a community, it’s also a great way to commemorate a significant moment in a business’ history.

It’s well known that permits are required to complete construction work across all jurisdictions in the United States. However, the nuances of this general rule are lesser-known.

Identifying what specific permits are needed for a given building project is highly dependent on the jurisdiction where the work is taking place. Those permits may be subject to city, county, state or federal guidelines and are often a combination of them. To make the task even more challenging, each of these entities may require the permits for a given project to be issued in various ways; for instance, you may need a building permit and separate but still acquainted trade permits. And to make matters complex, the timeline to achieve issuance of these permits varies significantly between jurisdictions and the scope of the work.

Does this sound overwhelming? Indeed, the permit process can be confusing, daunting and time-consuming. With eyes wide open, however, building teams can help guide the permitting process to ensure that they utilize the most cost-effective and efficient means of obtaining them. As we approach this topic, we are going to be speaking in generalities, since each jurisdiction has slightly different requirements.

When is a Building Permit Required?

Commercial construction projects require permits any time the work is more substantial than simple interior finish upgrades, such as replacing carpet or paint. Depending on the jurisdiction, exterior painting or façade upgrades may require some kind of jurisdictional review if the color patterns are different from the existing program.

Common small changes such as demolishing a single wall to combine two offices into one or moving the location of an exterior entrance door are items that will require a building permit. Indeed, even repairs to an exterior from instances such as damage due to a vehicle or a storm will require a permit.  Likewise, depending on their size, adding canopies or lean-to’s will similarly require permits.

New construction or expansions to existing buildings will always require permits.

If you’re uncertain, it’s best to contact your local building department, explain the work taking place, and ask what the permit requirements will be.

Why are Building Permits Necessary?

It is common for an owner to feel like a building permit should not be necessary. Indeed, it can be a challenge to manage the permit and inspection processes. However, building permits serve multiple larger, important purposes. These include:

  • Protecting life safety of building occupants by enforcing codes for structural integrity.
  • Protecting life safety by establishing standards for exiting, setbacks, fire protection, emergency response access.
  • Recording building plans for future reference in the event that the owner, contractor or design team are not available to provide them.
  • Encouraging equality for disabled persons to access spaces via ramps, elevators, automatically opening doors, wider aisle widths, wheelchair accessible restroom stalls and other accessibility requirements.
  • Lessening the environmental impact of real estate with sustainability measures built into the code, including, but not limited to:
    • Insulation requirements to reduce heating and air conditioning loads
    • Stormwater management systems to prevent contamination of local water sources
    • Low flow toilets to reduce water consumption

Building codes are developed primarily to protect human life, with local jurisdictions adding their own rules for sustainability, disabled access or other social goals. While these requirements can sometimes feel burdensome to a building owner, the over-arching contributions of building codes to saving lives during events such as fires, flooding, earthquakes or other natural disasters have been proven time and again.

What is the Difference Between Building Permits and Trade Permits?    

Building permits are typically the over-arching permit that puts the project on the local jurisdiction’s radar. Building permits can be applied for by an owner, contractor or a design team, with approval from the property owner.

In contrast, trade permits are those related to specific items, typically mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and low voltage. These trade permits are pulled directly by the trade contractor performing the work. For instance, if an electrician replaces a breaker or installs a new light fixture, the electrician will apply for a permit to complete that work and coordinate with an electrical inspector to achieve approval for the completed installation.

In new construction, if a building permit is pulled from the jurisdiction, trade permits will be pulled separately but will be connected to the building permit. In order to close out the building permit signifying that the work is complete, the individual trade permits must be completed first.

How to Pull a Building Permit

The short answer to how to pull a building permit is: it depends. Unfortunately, all jurisdictions have their own permit process and requirements, and those can differ depending on the project type. Here are some general rules to follow to help with the process, no matter which jurisdiction you’re working with:

  • Provide complete documentation. Most jurisdictions will have a website that lists requirements that must be submitted to acquire a permit.
  • Provide professional design drawings completed by an architect or engineer that is familiar with the jurisdiction.
  • If possible, ask for a pre-permit review meeting with the jurisdiction where the various parties involved in reviewing and approving your documentation will help you understand the process and requirements.
  • Research and hire third-party consultants for research and report writing, with their findings available to submit with your permit documents.
  • Be prepared to pay the permit fees on time.