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.


FIREWORKS SAFETY

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.

GRILLING SAFETY

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.

WATER SAFETY

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
Adam Smelley
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

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.

Source: https://www.energy.gov/eere/renewable-energy

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

Hydropower, coming from the flow of water, is a flexible and clean option, and one of the most utilized. According to Energy.gov, “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.

The more informed you can be prior to submitting your application, the smoother the process will be. Providing complete information will prevent a lot of back-and-forth communications between the permit office and your building team, streamlining the process and pace for approval.

How Long Do Permits Take?

Unfortunately, the timeline for approval is, again: it depends. If your project is very simple, it may be as easy as walking in or submitting an application online to the permit office for an ‘over-the-counter’ permit, which may be available in a matter of hours. More complex projects can take weeks, months, or even years to achieve. It’s best to discuss the complexities of your project directly with the local jurisdiction to get a sense of their timeline. An experienced building team that is familiar with that area of work will also be able to help provide you with guidance, and in many cases, complete the permitting application process for you.

Final Thoughts

Building and trade permits are a necessary part of the construction framework and help to keep people safe and provide record keeping of our physical infrastructure. The process can be daunting! However, with great building and design teams on board, it can be optimally navigated.

If you are considering a building project, we encourage you to contact us today. Our teams will be happy to discuss your project and the permits that may be required.

“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.


We’re so glad you’ve joined us for Episode Three of The Perlo Podcast! Host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by two repeat guests: Chris McLaughlin, Vice President of Preconstruction, and Todd Duwe, Vice President of Business Development. Join us as we compare and contrast two common terms in the construction industry when procuring a general contractor on a project: “hard bid” and “negotiated”.

When a property owner decides that they want to build a building or renovate an existing space, they first must determine how they will pick a general contractor to use. Without getting too far into the nuances, we can use a few broad terms when referencing the subject. First, we have a hard bid strategy, which refers to when an owner has several contractors selected, and they are asked to give their best price on a project based on a set of documents. The second option is to do more of a negotiated strategy, where there is one specific contractor selected to come up with their price and complete their work.

Hard Bid

So, what does it mean to hard bid on a project? According to Chris, you need all of the documents 100% finished and the design to be fully complete to solicit bids and get the subcontractor bids to be competitive. Design elements include:

  • Civil design
  • Architectural design
  • Structural design
  • Landscaping
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Fire protection

Chris notes that this method requires a much more defined scope. Once the scope is defined and the project and construction documents are complete, the owner would need to select several competent and experienced general contractors to bid on the project. Traditionally, there is a hard bid time and date that the bid needs to be turned in, where the selected contractor is most often chosen based on the lowest price. As a result, teams typically work up until the last minute in a high-stress environment to get all subcontractor bids in by the submission time.

Negotiated

The word “negotiate” comes into play right away. According to Todd, this method comes down to “negotiating the terms of the contract, which might include price, schedule, scope, quality, and even individual team experience.”

There is usually a set of circumstances that lends itself to negotiating, most often because it is very early in the process of a construction project. For example, in the case of negotiated strategy, a client may still be getting a grasp of the project’s construction budget and scope, so there may not be a complete set of documents. Because of these circumstances, contractors are typically brought in early as a partner.

Todd notes that most negotiated projects can still be hard bid out. In a negotiated project, you still have the opportunity to hard bid subcontractors. However, there is valuable information to be gained early in the process.

Elissa remarks that when a scope is not necessarily clearly defined and an owner is not sure how to proceed with their project, a contractor can use this method to help develop a clear budget for the owner and can still participate in a hard bidding process to ensure that the owner is getting a competitive price.

Negotiated strategy is a more transparent process because you’re showing the client your numbers upfront, as opposed to a hard bid, which is a bottom-line lump-sum price. If the project is negotiated, you’ll see the math of what it took to get to the proposed price, which may include potential savings clauses.

Perceived Benefits

“The perceived benefit of a hard bid is that you’re going to get the lowest price. The truth is, you’ll have the lowest price on day one, but at the end of the day, there is no guarantee that you’ll have the lowest price overall,” Chris states.

In the case of hard bidding, you’re bidding off the documents, which may not be realistic. In this case, if any documents aren’t accurate or there is a change, a contractor will have to submit a change order, further increasing the price.

For negotiated strategy, you can find out about long-lead items early. Without this information, you don’t have a contractor on board to identify these items and preorder supplies. Additionally, some projects might be more complicated and come with unique challenges. In cases such as healthcare projects, occupied school sites, and seismic upgrades, negotiating allows you to plan how to phase out the project. Bringing a contractor in to identify potential issues is essential, as they can set up bid packages to help subcontractors and trade partners bid the scope out properly. The contractor has a lot to add to the process and can influence the design “both structurally and architecturally to design a more effective and efficient design cost-wise,” notes Todd.

One of the most significant differences when negotiating is that a savings clause can be incorporated so that a portion of savings can go back to the client. Additionally, a hard bid doesn’t necessarily have a schedule that you are bound to, as the priority is based on the lowest price. According to Elissa, “In a negotiated contract, you have a scheduled date you want to hit, and you’re finding out how to build it so that you meet that schedule.”

Chris agrees with this statement and touches back on long-lead items. If you have a hard bid, you start the clock once you are awarded the project, whereas in a negotiated contract, you can start the clock early to get those products on site.

Additionally, a hard bid job doesn’t account for risks as much as a negotiated project. Todd states, “In a negotiated project, you’re spending time in a period of preconstruction where you’re identifying all of those risks, both from a schedule standpoint and a cost standpoint, and you’re communicating that to the rest of the team, including the owners and design team. This makes negotiated contracts less risky for both the owner and the client.”

Challenges

One big challenge of hard bidding is the lack of risk identification. When doing job walks for a hard bid, people may see risks but don’t mention them because it’s what’s on the documents that matters at the end of the day. Subcontractors aren’t asking questions on the job walk because they know that everybody else will bid solely on what’s on the set of plans. If they attempt to adjust for potential risks they see, they will not be the lowest bidder.

If there is additional scope later on, the difference will have to be made up by creating a change order, which can create conflict between the owner, contractor, and architect. Contractors have no choice but to create change orders because they don’t get the opportunity to solve problems at the original price if they hard bid the work.

Unfortunately, this creates more potential for risk in a hard bid. However, this can be hard to quantify as every project is unique. It can be deceiving to just look at numbers in a hard bid, as you’re just looking at one component of a project: price. You aren’t able to get insight on subcontractor teams, onsite teams, and project management teams.

“If somebody doesn’t want to just look at the price, what options do they have to identify whether a contractor is qualified for the work and whether they would be a good partner for negotiating their project?”, Elissa asks.

We learn that in some cases, owners are doing a “hybrid” model, where they are prequalifying general contractors for projects based on qualifications for a specific type of work. Once this list of prequalified contractors is selected, they will conduct a hard bid. 

How to Decide When to Hard Bid

At Perlo, we look at the completeness of the drawings and how well they are done. The level of competition is also a significant factor and is determined on a case-to-case basis.

Todd notes that diversifying revenue streams or breaking into a new market sector requires you to build your resume up, as owners like to see a portfolio of relevant experience when negotiating for a project. Sometimes, you can only gain that project resume by hard bidding. Not to mention, hard bidding here at Perlo allows us to keep our pulse on the market and keeps us from getting complacent. Although the majority of our work is negotiated, we are not afraid of hard bidding and being competitive.

Final Thoughts
There are benefits and challenges to both strategies, and standards vary depending on the project. When choosing which strategy works best for your company, it is important to determine what is most important to you in a project.

Want to learn more about procurement strategies? Find more in our Newsroom here for more information on Hard Bid vs. Negotiated Procurement Strategies. If you’re ready to find a contractor, check out our article on achieving comparable bids here.  If you’d like to know more about the different project delivery types that go along with hard bidding and negotiating, review our article about Construction Project Delivery Types here.

As always, if you’d like to hear more on these topics or others related to construction, please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you!

The National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) has been celebrating women in the construction industry for 24 years. Their annual Women in Construction (WIC) Week is this week, March 6-12, and is a time dedicated to reflecting on the contributions that women bring to the industry. This time is also used to recognize the avenues that exist for growing women’s representation on construction sites and within the industry as a whole. At Perlo, we support NAWIC and are proud of our strong foundation of women. We have seen more women than ever before recognized for their efforts in making the industry a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

To consider the topic of women in construction, we sat down with many of our team members at Perlo – both men and women – to discuss further. We had brutally honest and open conversations, asking questions such as:

  • What do women bring to the table that men maybe don’t?
  • Do you see challenges for women in this industry?
  • What unconscious biases still exist between men and women?
  • Do you get tired of this discussion?
  • How did you get started in the industry?
  • What biases do you hold against the opposite gender from you?

Starting the Conversation

Our conversations were, all at once, fun, serious, contemplative, reflective and educational. The fact that our culture at Perlo allows us to dig in to these types of conversations is just one reason why women are rising to the ranks of leadership, and that individuals like Todd Duwe, Vice President of Business Development, and Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives, have both earned recognition as honorees of the DJC’s Building Diversity Awards for their advocacy for diversity in the workplace.


We also recognize that these conversations take time, sensitivity, open dialogue and acceptance of all perspectives. After all, inclusivity is at the heart of guiding diversity, equity, and inclusion, which includes being open to all varying perspectives. In the last few years, these conversations and the focus on these topics has increased in all industries, including the A/E/C industries.

Where diversity is concerned, the building industry is lacking. For instance, women make up only 10.9% of people working in construction, and only 2.5% of tradespeople.

Source: https://datausa.io/profile/soc/construction-managers/demographics/gender

Bias in the Construction Industry

Unconscious bias is a social stereotype someone automatically forms about a person or group of people.”

This type of bias exists in every individual’s life – it is not inherently ”bad” to have biases, as its purpose includes the need to assess situations quickly to decide whether those situations are safe or not. Bias can be a matter of life or death, and aids in recognizing that a situation or individual is unsafe so that you can defend yourself, flee or freeze.

In short, unconscious bias is a normal part of human behavior, and we all have biases based on our past experiences and life influences like culture, media, parenting, etc. However, in the workplace, bias can show up in a negative way if they unduly influence decisions about hiring, pay, treatment or promotions. Some common workplace biases include:

  • Gender bias: when conclusions are made based on gender.
  • Beauty bias: when conclusions are made based on appearance.
  • Conformity bias: when opinions or conclusions are made in order to ”go with the flow” and avoid being singled out.
  • Affinity bias: when an individual favors another because they’re very similar or have similar experiences.
  • Confirmation bias: when an individual forms an opinion and looks only for evidence that confirms that opinion, instead of remaining open to all evidence.

Unconscious bias is the opposite of explicit bias, where an individual deliberately or willfully discriminates against others. Explicit bias is easier to identify and is generally not accepted in society.

Why Unconscious Bias Matters to the Conversation about Women in Construction


We talked to our teams about what biases they experienced within themselves, or heard others say. Some of them included:

“Women are dramatic. They cry a lot.”
“Women don’t know what it’s like to build because they haven’t been in the trenches doing the work.”
“If you’re a mom, you won’t be able to work enough hours for this job.”
“The men don’t think we belong out there.”

And not all of these were about women. Some admitted to biases against men and different generations. Like:

“Younger generations are weak. They don’t know how to work hard.”
“Men aren’t sensitive. They aren’t good at managing people because they don’t have any empathy.”
“Men just want to play golf and drink beer.”

It’s natural for individuals to let bias enter their decision making when it comes to hiring, promoting or even mentoring someone of the opposite sex. We want to be clear when we say: this isn’t the fault of anyone. It’s natural. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t work to acknowledge these biases and take strides to eliminate them so that women and diverse populations have the same opportunity to excel in this industry. It’s also worth noting that eliminating bias isn’t only a task for men. As we can see from some of the comments listed above, bias goes both ways, and reducing its negative effects benefits everyone.

How do we encourage women to join the industry?

Research has demonstrated time and again that diversifying companies makes for stronger company performance, stronger communities and a more equitable population. Diversification of ethnicity and gender are important, and though we are focusing today’s article on gender, it’s not our intent to ignore the importance of ethnic diversity and the work needed to pursue ethnic diversification within our industry, as well.

So, how do we encourage women to join the construction industry? To answer this question, we have to start by acknowledging where the pool of candidates that construction companies are hiring from is originating.  Overwhelmingly, they came because they had friends or family in the industry. Some came through temp employment agencies, but none of the women intentionally went into construction.

Here are some of their comments:

“I thought I was interviewing for a medical office position! But 25 years later, I’m still here!”

“I was introduced because my husband was in the industry.”

“My dad encouraged me to go into project management. I got a business degree.”

“Long story… but a friend of mine suggested I go into the trades. My plan was to journey out as a carpenter and then leave the continent, but I’m still here and love what I do.”

“Going into construction was a resounding ‘no’ from me. My father was in construction, and my work was supposed to be a summer job only. But 21 years later, I’m still here. I started in the field as a laborer, eventually went into an office manager position, then continued my journey into different positions.”

In terms of schooling for management roles, this report titled Engineering by the Numbers by Joseph Roy, Ph.D., sheds some light on the statistics regarding gender and diversity in engineering degrees. Although this report focuses on all types of engineering, it seems to align with the reality of the candidate pools that construction firms have to choose from if they’re following a ”traditional” model of hiring candidates with engineering degrees to complete their project management work.  Taken from this report, the following graphic paints a clear picture of the ethnicities and gender of engineering degrees awarded as of 2018:

One of the reasons that construction companies are overwhelmingly male is the lack of candidates from diverse backgrounds receiving engineering degrees. Aside from ensuring that the construction community creates and maintains an inclusive environment that welcomes all ethnicities and genders, we must find a way to encourage a more diverse population of young people to pursue engineering as a field of study.

A variety of organizations are working hard to encourage young women to pursue an education in STEM fields and the building trades. Some of these organizations include:

It’s also up to individual companies to work to recruit and encourage youth in their local areas to explore construction careers.  

Final Thoughts

The topic of women in construction, diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction industry is a large, complicated topic, and won’t be solved quickly. That said, it requires taking the first step to recognize that increasing diversity means raising awareness about bias, working to increase the inclusivity of the construction environment, and increasing interest from diverse youth populations in the industry. Importantly, it’s critical that we avoid blaming those who are already in the industry for the lack of diversity that is present. Let’s start from where we are now, build awareness, and take action.

To the women who are in construction already? Keep showing up and keep championing other women.

Have you heard the phrase, ‘Mission Critical’? This phrase has several different meanings depending on the context, So, what is it? The answer is: it depends.   

In individual businesses, Mission Critical functions are those that, upon failure or disruptions, would halt their ability to conduct their business. In society, a Mission Critical system may include facilities like hospitals, 911-call centers, police and fire stations, utility suppliers, etc., the failure of which would be catastrophic for the public. These are often referred to as Essential Facilities. In construction, Mission Critical is most often used to refer to data center construction, although it may also be used to described work on essential service projects such as 911 call centers, utility facilities, and more.

With the rise of society’s reliance on the internet, cloud-computing and cloud storage, data centers are a major factor in our ability to operate businesses, commerce, schools, etc. Their failure can have overwhelmingly cataclysmic consequences to our society, so constructing them in a manner that is complete and maintaining them to prevent shutdowns in any way makes them complex projects.

Today, we will spend some time focusing on data center construction. What makes them “critical”, complex, expensive, and ultimately, reliable. 


What are Data Centers?

Data Centers are the location where an organization’s IT systems and equipment reside, storing information the company uses to operate smoothly on a daily basis. Increasingly, companies are storing less of their data inside their own locations and using cloud-based storage instead. This data must be stored safely, away from potential physical or cyber-attacks, natural disasters, or utility interruption. This is where large data centers come into play, and why they’re referred to as Mission Critical. An interruption in service could disrupt the operations of hundreds of businesses and services.

Data Centers are made up of a physical structure: the facility. The Core Components include the equipment and software for IT systems such as servers, network infrastructure, and security. Personnel must be available 24/7 to operate the facility itself. And finally, these buildings include a Support Infrastructure, which includes:

  • Uninterruptible Power Sources, such as generators, redundant power sources and back-up battery banks.
  • Environmental Controls, such as computer room air conditions, highly sophisticated HVAC systems and exhaust systems.
  • Security systems, such as video surveillance and biometrics.

Reports state that there are more than 7 million data centers worldwide. They vary in size and type and the businesses they serve. Their services may include:

  • Data storage and management
  • Back-up data storage
  • High-volume transactions
  • Online gaming
  • Social media storage

With hundreds or even thousands of servers containing potentially sensitive data running at the same time, a large amount of heat is produced as a result. If the temperature of the data center runs too hot or too cold, the servers are at risk of working improperly, malfunctioning, or failing. The potential for this risk is why data centers use a large amount of power to run their equipment and provide temperature control – primarily in the form of air conditioning – to the servers located inside.

Complexities of Data Center Construction

Large data centers must be secure, and able to access large amounts of power. They may be multi-story facilities, or single story and can be 100,000 SF or more in size. While construction types can vary, the building envelope is often concrete tilt-up with a steel roof structure, controlled entrances and exits and very few windows. Significant mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems are installed to provide consistent power, low-voltage, heating and, more importantly, cooling.

Redundant power is essential, as the services these data centers provide cannot be shut down at any time.

Additionally, provisions for maintenance should be included in the initial design to account for redundancies, transfer switches to allow for temporary and phased shutdowns, and more. Generally referred to as N+1 redundancy, data centers ensure that at least one independent backup component is available for every component in the facility.

Cooling of the data services inside these buildings are a crucial element of the design and construction of mission critical facilities. Specialty mechanical and electrical trade partners with expertise in this area must be involved in the design and delivery of these projects, as the data stored in servers are analyzed frequently.

There is pressure on all building types to increase the sustainability of both building and operations, with increased desire for buildings to become Net Zero. Data centers are no exception. Power sourced from renewable energy is becoming a priority and many operators are analyzing the option to build solar arrays into their projects or even help fund the development of renewables off-site. With demand on the rise, speed-to-market for these buildings are essential for contractors to successfully meet the needs of their clients.

The Data Center Construction Market

In 2020, the data center construction market was valued at $7.24 billion and is expected to reach $14.17 billion by 2026. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for cloud-based technologies, as companies moved to remote operations, and increasingly realized that maintaining the infrastructure for data storage onsite is expensive and difficult to maintain. The rise in popularity of online meeting platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, social media and live-streaming television shows and videos are also contributing to this expansion.

The healthcare industry and their need for data collection and storage is another driving factor in the increasing need for data centers, as hospitals and clinics seek ways to reduce their expenses and risk.

Data centers are located in varied geographic locations, generally needing a large amount of space, a healthy supply of low-cost water and electricity. Rural locations are acceptable and, in many cases, desirable, although many of the largest facilities include urban, multi-story buildings.

Some large data center locations across the country include:

  • Ashburn, Virginia
  • Secaucus, New Jersey
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Dallas, Texas
  • New York City, New York
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Hillsboro, Oregon

State and local municipalities across the United States compete for data center placements in their respective areas, often offering incentives such as tax relief packages based on investment amount and/or long-term jobs that are created. States with incentives include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In addition to state programs, many local municipalities offer their own incentives to attract investment in their area. In The Dalles, Oregon, for instance, the City and Wasco County approved an agreement to reduce property taxes for Google. Umatilla County and Hermiston City Council approved a property tax exemption for Amazon in 2019, as well.

Prospects for continued construction of Mission Critical facilities appears to be going nowhere but up.

Final Thoughts

Mission Critical construction is a building type that requires knowledge of complex systems and specialty subcontracting, design and engineering partners. The outlook for this market is clear: more of it will be coming, with new buildings under construction and planned in areas across the United States and the globe. Emerging technologies, quests to improve energy efficiency and maximize data storage capabilities will all promote innovation within the industry. We will look forward to seeing where these improvements take the Mission Critical market. In five years, the means, methods and sophistication involved will be extraordinary to behold.

Looking for a job can be a daunting experience. Interviewing for your chosen role can be nerve-wracking and anxiety inducing, but mastering your interview skills can pay off in a big way when you land your dream job. Today, we’re talking about interviewing – how you should prepare, present yourself, and follow-up. These tips are a sure-fire way to put your best foot forward when you’re looking for your next job opportunity.


Before the Interview

Studies show that 46% of candidates fail a job interview because they didn’t have enough information about the company they applied to. Doing your research does not require talent, it just requires you to sit down and do the work.

Do Your Homework – Company Website

First, and perhaps most importantly, research the website of the company you’re interested in. Their website is the best place to start to find out what the company’s values, mission statement, or goals are and determine whether the position and company are a match for you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they perform the work I want to be doing?
  • Does this look like a company I can grow in?
  • Do we share the same values?

Asking yourself these questions helps you understand what you’re looking for in a company and encourage you to narrow down which positions are worth putting in the time to pursue.

Doing your research on the company also gives you the chance to prepare some questions that you can ask at the end of your interview, which we will elaborate on later. Find a project or company value that interests you and be sure to bring it up when asked why you chose to apply. It will show that you know about the company and, more importantly, that you understand what is important to you as a future employee. There needs to be a culture fit on both sides, and this is one great way to show that you know it is already a match on your end.

Example
“I chose to apply to your company because I really connected with your Perlo Practices, specifically #3 – Everyone empties the trash. I want to work for a company that treats everyone equally and promotes employees to help each other, no matter their title. I also loved your recent project with Columbia Distributing. The high-end finishes caught my eye, and I can see myself working on a project such as that.”

Do Your Homework – Job Boards

Job boards such as Glassdoor and Indeed can be great resources when preparing for an interview. When researching your potential company, these job boards can show you employee reviews, average salaries, and even questions that employees were asked during their interview, which can help you to better understand what to expect in yours.

YouTube can also be a great place to find interview tips, how to negotiate your salary, and other resources.

Do Your Homework – LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the perfect place to connect with professionals in the industry. By going to the page of the company you’re interested in, you can find current employees that work in the department you are aiming for or even those that work in the same role you are pursuing. LinkedIn provides a platform to connect with these individuals and is something you should review before going in for your interview.

However, you want to make sure that you are not reaching out to someone with the intent of getting a referral or reference. Doing so can come off as greedy and ingenuine. Instead, connect with an employee by sending them a personal connection request message. Look on their LinkedIn page to see their past experiences, volunteer work, or recent posts, and use that information in your message to show your genuine interest in them as a professional.

Example
“Good afternoon Mr. Duwe, I hope you’ve had a great week so far. I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you have over 10 years of experience as a Project Manager. I am extremely interested in this career path and would love to learn more about what you do. I look forward to connecting with you!” (Remember to be mindful of the character limit on connection requests and remain concise.)

In Perlo’s recent Podcast Episode: Careers in Construction Management, Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, remarks “if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that people really like to talk about what they do and how they do it. There is no better compliment than asking somebody about their job.”

Proactively connecting with professionals in your chosen career will not only give off a great impression and promote future networking connections, but it may just inspire that individual to talk to their colleagues (which may include the hiring manager/recruiter) about what a great interaction they had with you, thereby giving you a great reputation before you even step foot in your interview.

LinkedIn is also a great place to do extra research on your company. You can find information such as:

  • Newsworthy events
  • Recent projects
  • Company milestones
  • Industry-related topics

Do Your Homework – Job Description

Companies give you a job description for a reason. They aren’t just letting you know what to expect in the role, they’re letting you know what they expect from you in this role. While this may sound intimidating, you can use it to your advantage. Look for key words in the job description like specific hard and soft skills, including:

Hard Skills
Project Management
Scheduling
Procurement
Analytics
Negotiation
Budgeting

Soft Skills
Flexibility/Adaptability
Problem-Solving
Teamwork
Attention to Detail
Decision-Making
Organization

These key words provide insight into the most important skills the company is looking for and allow you to find out how/if your experience and skillset can benefit the company. Use these keywords to narrow in on your own experiences and incorporate them in your interview when answering questions.

Dress for Success

For your interview, you’ll want to dress for success! According to various studies, 71% of employers wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t follow the appropriate dress code. Your goal should include being the best dressed in the room. That doesn’t mean going overboard with flashy accessories, it means keeping it simple. Be clean and wrinkle-free. If you aren’t sure what the dress code is or what employees in the office typically wear, don’t be afraid to ask! This is a great opportunity to show the company that you care about making a good impression.

Always bring printed copies of your resume in a sleek folder or padfolio with a pen and notepad handy. You’ll want to bring enough for the number of people interviewing you, plus a few extras. If possible, you can also purchase high-quality resume paper at any of your local office supply stores. The more prepared you are, the more control you have over the interview.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Chances are, if you google “interview questions”, you’ll get hundreds of results. Pick a few generic ones and a few that are more specific to the position you are applying for. If you were able to find potential interview questions from job boards like Glassdoor, use those, as well. Practicing in front of a mirror is a great way to emulate speaking to someone else while catching opportunities to improve on your delivery.

It’s okay to prepare answers to interview questions in advance, as long as you ensure your delivery doesn’t sound too rehearsed. You don’t want to sound like you’ve memorized an answer word for word, your goal is just to know what you’re talking about and deliver it effectively. Stay conversational, respectful, and don’t forget to incorporate the key words we touched on earlier. Additionally, don’t lie or give a long-winded answer. Sometimes, it’s okay to say you’ve never done something before but that you look forward to learning.

When preparing your interview answers, a great option is to use the STAR Method. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This method of answering questions is best used when asked to provide real-life examples of how you handled a certain situation in the past. Examples include, “tell me about a time when…” or “give me an example of…”. Your answer can be broken down into the following format:

Situation:
Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.

Task:
Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.

Action:
Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.

Result:
Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

Using this method allows you to provide concrete proof to the company that you can handle tough situations and demonstrate how you successfully handled them.

Prepare Questions

At the end of your interview, you’ll most likely be asked if you have any questions. Use your earlier company research and deep dive on the job description to prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Questions you may ask include:

  • What challenges can I expect in this position?
  • What are some of the day-to-day duties?
  • What does success look like in this position?

However, it is not unheard of that the interviewer may have already answered your questions throughout the interview process. If this is the case, it is most beneficial to express that all your questions have been answered and do a quick recap of what those were.

Virtual Interviews

As the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many jobs to be remote, we are seeing an increase in virtual interviews. When preparing for a virtual interview, it’s important to adhere to the following:

  • Find a quiet place you can take the interview without being disturbed.
  • Make sure you have a clean background with good lighting on your face.
  • Although the interviewer will only see the top half of you, you should still be dressed for success.
  • Check your internet connection.
  • Keep a notebook on hand so that you aren’t typing throughout the interview.
  • Keep some notes handy, but don’t rely on a cheat sheet.

During the Interview

It’s normal to be nervous when entering an interview, but don’t let that get in the way of all your hard work while preparing! Start off strong and remember that people will make a first impression within seven seconds. Focusing on your body language – such as maintaining eye contact, confidence, and a good volume level (especially when wearing a mask) – is the best way to connect with your interviewer and have an engaging interview. Approximately 39% of candidates are rejected due to overall confidence level, voice quality, or lack of smile.

You will most likely be asked for an “elevator pitch”, which may be concealed in a question such as “tell me about yourself”. The idea of an “elevator pitch” is to give a sales pitch about your professional experiences in a short enough period that you could quickly tell it to someone while on an elevator ride. In this case, try to keep it short and sweet while focusing on your professional achievements and goals without getting too personal or oversharing.

Answer the questions you’re asked to the best of your ability. Try to convey your drive, motivation, and how badly you want the position. Always expect the unexpected, as some companies are known to ask you to tell them a joke just to throw you off.

As the interview nears to a close, prepare to ask the questions you’ve planned. If you think of the process as “selling yourself”, you’ll want to end with a question that seals the deal. Emma Fazio, Communications Coordinator at Perlo Construction, shares with us her go-to question:

“I always have a question that helps me close the deal when I’m interviewing. At the end of the interview, I finish by asking the following: ‘Was there anything I said during this interview that would cause you to think I would not be qualified for this position?’ The interviewer may not be able to answer your question, but if they do bring something up, it gives you the perfect opportunity to elaborate on your story, turn any weaknesses into a positive experience, and change their opinion. If they answer with ‘no’, they’ll start realizing that there’s no reason they shouldn’t hire you. It’s a win-win!”

After the Interview

You’ve now gotten past the interview, but that doesn’t mean your work is over. If you haven’t already connected with your interviewer on LinkedIn, this is the time to do so. It is crucial to follow up after an interview to show your gratitude and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Following up relates back to the importance of networking. Even if you don’t get the specific position you were pursuing, you may stand out enough to be considered for a different role or a future opening.

Final Thoughts

Finally, don’t give up. Interviewing can be a stressful experience. Give yourself some credit, a pat on the back, and use what you’ve learned to improve for your next interview. Looking for a career in construction? Perlo is hiring! Visit our Careers page to apply.

Good luck!

Companies in our business often grow and then sell to national or even international corporations. These large, sprawling businesses operate from distant headquarters and enter local towns with little investment in the people or the surrounding community. Gayland Looney and Jeff Perala, long-time owners of Perlo, wanted to make sure that would never happen. They realized the best way to keep the company local was to invite the Executive Team into the ownership fold.

These executives are:

Jeff Fisher
President
Chris Gregg
Senior VP of Operations
Chris McLaughlin
VP of Preconstruction Services
Devin Koopman
VP of Construction Services
Todd Duwe
VP of Business Development

“Creating the new ownership structure took many months,” says Gayland. “But we knew it was worth the effort. We wanted to make sure the long hours, the tough decisions, and the day-in-and-day-out grit that Jeff and I have put in over the past 30 years resulted in a company that would stay rooted in our community.”

Chris McLaughlin agrees. “The best thing about this transition is that it means we’re staying local. We’re not selling out to a company from outside the area.”


Digging into the Perlo Way.

Our culture and our legacy are what make Perlo, Perlo. As stated in the Perlo Way: We work hard, we take care of our people, and we always do what’s right.

Jeff Perala elaborates. “This transition is an exciting path to the future. We knew that bringing our executive leaders onto the ownership team was an important step for preserving what Gayland and I treasure most about what we’ve built.”

Putting People First.

Perlo is a place where employees work for years, sometimes even decades. Why? Because our people always come first.

“After working for a large, international construction company, I learned first-hand why it matters working for a company that’s truly invested in their employees,” explains Jeff Fisher. “Once I came on board with Perlo, I knew this was my home.”

“I’m so lucky to work at a place where some of my best friends are,” adds Chris McLaughlin. “I enjoy the work, but it’s the people I enjoy most.”

A Company Built on Relationships.

Perlo looks at every project as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with clients, partners, and co-workers.

“It’s exciting to see the types of projects we’re getting involved with,” says Jeff Fisher. “But at the end of the day, we’re in the business of building relationships.”

A Path to Continued Innovation.

The ownership expansion is the next chapter in the growth of the company. Perlo is becoming known in the industry for building state-of-the-art medical facilities and other complex projects. Clients and partners appreciate Perlo’s forward-looking approach that taps into new technologies and increased efficiencies.

“This ownership expansion allows for more ideas,” says Chris Gregg. “Perlo is about quality work, but it’s also about innovation. That’s what’s driving our growth.”

Staying ahead of the curve is good for business – and it’s also great for bringing in dynamic talent. “We’re growing, which provides good opportunities for our people,” shares Todd Duwe. “At Perlo, we encourage everyone to develop into their full potential.”

A Door to Tomorrow.

Perlo has been around for 50 years. The future looks bright for the next 50 years.

“This is exciting,” says Devin Koopman. “And now it’s our job to keep the dream alive for everyone in the company.”

Gayland adds, “What always drove us was creating a company that would stand the test of time and be a home for our people and their families. I’m just so proud of everyone who’s been a part of this journey.”

“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 second episode of The Perlo Podcast with host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction. In order to shine a light on careers in construction management, Elissa is joined by Whitney Peterson, Project Manager; Chris McInroe, Project Director; and Broc Van Vleet, Senior Estimator to find out just how gratifying these careers can be.

Like all career paths, there is a fine balance between challenges and opportunities. However, a career in construction management is not a path that many young people are exposed to. Statistics from Indeed.com show that the US currently has over 5,600 openings in construction project management careers, making it the perfect time to pursue this career path.

A Typical “Day in the Life”

There is a common theme among careers in construction management: no day is ever the same. There is a constant need for coordination, whether that be with subcontractors, owners, scheduling, or procurement.

Chris notes that every day typically starts out with a “script”. There may be meetings to attend and items to accomplish, but inevitably, you’ll get a curveball. It requires you to be flexible and have good communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. It is crucial that you have those skills to be on top of your game and get the critical items finished to get back on track.

Broc is on the preconstruction side of project management and deals heavily with subcontractors and their fielding questions, answering design intent, coordinating with design teams on bids, working on budgets, reviewing quotes, and attending preconstruction design meetings.

Interesting and Challenging Aspects of Construction Management

According to Broc, the most interesting part of his job is that everything is different. Each project holds its own set of challenges and there is always a new landscape to be creative and find new ways to solve problems.

You can never truly know everything in construction, and Chris believes that although you’re always building your skill set, there is never a shortage of learning opportunities. There are always new software programs emerging, new relationships to build, and new requirements for projects. While this makes the job both interesting and challenging, it requires a certain level of stress-management and multitasking.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the supply shortages it has caused, Whitney is always on her toes trying to find information for the best ways to solve a problem and improve. Nowadays, there are more projects available, but the sites are more challenging and they are wanted in tighter timelines.

Comparing and Contrasting Careers

When comparing and contrasting different careers in construction, there is overlap in positions like estimating and project management. In estimating, there is more of a quick turnaround, whereas on the project management side, the process is often more drawn-out and can even take place over multiple years. Broc states that you have to be able to understand both the estimating and project management aspects of construction to be successful.

A lot of what we do in construction is reactionary. However, you can only react well if it was planned out well in the first place. We spend a lot of time on the preconstruction side so that we can react when a curveball is thrown. It’s not a matter of if a curveball is thrown, it’s when.

Necessary Skills

Hard skills in the industry, especially on the estimating side, include working heavily with numbers. Broc notes that he works with various excel files, bid reviews, calculations, estimate sheets, and more. Chris strongly believes in “double-checking” your work and that having that skill ensures things are done right. Soft skills are arguably just as important, as you need to be able to adapt and move quickly with the changing times. Being dedicated, driven, disciplined, a good team member, and a self-starter are among just a few of the soft skills you need to be able to succeed in the industry.

Whitney notes that although it isn’t recognized as often, there is a fair amount of writing that is required. With contracts, project purchase orders, and proposals, there is a lot of double-checking that takes place. Clarity is key, and it’s crucial to be able to describe to the client what they can expect to ensure the highest quality experience.

Career Path Origins

Whitney got her degree in journalism and mass communications, but following an internship in that field,  realized it was not her desired career path. She started at Perlo as a Subcontractor Coordinator and worked in the Estimating Department. One of the co-owners of Perlo, Gayland Looney, recognized Whitney’s talents in organization and communication. He encouraged Whitney to take on the role of Project Manager, noting that you don’t necessarily need a degree in the field to be successful.

Chris started on his career path in high school when he participated in the creation of his school’s time-capsule. In this time-capsule, he wrote that one day he would be the owner of a construction company. The seed was planted early for him, and he later went to Oregon State University and was pulled toward Construction Engineering Management (CEM). He then had the opportunity to intern at Perlo and took an offer for a full-time position.

Broc’s dad is a retired structural engineer, so he was exposed to construction from the design side very early. Starting at Oregon State University in Civil Engineering, he realized it wasn’t the path he wanted to follow and later found the CEM program as well.

Favorite Stories, Relationships, and Opportunities

Chris’ favorite job was for Lam Research. He was approached with an extremely tight timeline on a 3-story build-out. It needed to be completed in 3 months, and everyone said it wasn’t possible. Chris knew that failure was not an option and, while it was a crazy process, he managed to pull it off and gain a repeat client. 

Whitney’s favorite aspect of the job are the relationships she’s built, both inside and outside the company. Elissa notes that her favorite experience was when she was working for a bread company and got fresh bread at every meeting she attended!

Career Fulfillment

For Chris, the camaraderie and team spirit that is shown during Perlo culture events gives you the opportunity to bond outside of the normal workplace, and he emphasizes that there is always a balance between work and fun.

Whitney states that her fulfillment comes from being able to train and mentor Project Engineers and Project Managers. Seeing them grow and develop year by year is what makes Whitney want to get up every morning. Elissa agrees and notes that mentoring people really makes you realize how much knowledge you’ve gained in your career.

Broc’s fulfillment comes from the variety of projects he sees on a daily basis and the support he receives from his team. The extracurriculars and team building at Perlo are what make each day worthwhile. Elissa remarks that it’s important to break up work with fun to make our days more enjoyable and productive. Once you are able to step back from something, it gives you the opportunity to think of new solutions to problems. The power of teamwork and help from others is what pushes you forward.

Top Advice

If you are in a position to pick up an internship, it is an outstanding way for both you and the company in question to have a trial. By the end of your internship, you’ll have a great idea of whether or not that career path is for you. Whitney also noted that talking to people in the industry and getting your foot in the door is crucial.

To Chris, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, so it’s important to define those relationships. The most essential part is finding your passion and aligning your career with that.

If there is one thing Elissa has learned, it’s that people like to talk about what they do and how they do it. There is no better compliment than asking someone about their job, so if you get a chance to have an informational interview, most people are going to be more than happy to offer their experience. There are also many organizations in the industry that work to expose kids to careers in the industry, as well as schools that are incorporating more technical courses in their curriculum, such as welding. Just reach out!

Final Thoughts
It might be overwhelming when you first come into this career path, but you have to stay humble to earn respect and trust. There is definitely a career progression, but it all comes down to how badly you want something and how hard you’re willing to work. In this industry, the sky is the limit and the future is at your fingertips if you really want it.

Elissa: “Final question: rapid fire. Would you encourage your children to go into your line of work?”
Broc: Yes.
Chris: Yes.
Whitney: Yes.
Elissa: Yes, all around!

Construction of commercial buildings comes with hazards, some more obvious than others. Individuals completing work in construction are often tasked with handling a variety of materials, some of which can be dangerous if improperly used.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standardizes what are known as Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), which outline chemical hazards, safety precautions for handling, and proper transport protocols. Formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), tracking and reviewing chemical information contributes to maintaining safety on construction sites.

OSHA addresses SDS regulation within their Hazard Communication Standard (HCS). Aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (HCS), this system is designed to promote safety by communicating the hazards and ensuring proper handling, storage and transportation of chemicals in the workplace.

Hazard Communication is consistently one of OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Hazards. Knowledge and utilization of an established hazard communication program, including knowledge of SDSs, is critical to maintaining safety in the workplace. Today, we’ll learn more about what SDSs are, and how they can be helpful in preventing harm to workers.  


What Are Safety Data Sheets?  

Safety Data Sheets are required for all hazardous chemicals and must be provided to users by the manufacturer and/or distributor. These documents are organized consistently, in a 16-section format which guides users as to the properties, dangers and safe means of handling each material. These sections in each are as follows:

Section 1:
Identification

Identifies the chemical and recommended uses as well as restrictions for use. It also identifies the manufacturer and their contact information.

Section 2:
Hazard(s) Identification

Identifies the hazards associated with the chemical, including warnings for use and pictograms of the hazard.

Section 3:
Composition/Information on Ingredients

Identifies the substances that make up the chemical, as well as the probable health risks for the individual ingredients.

Section 4:
First Aid Measures

Identifies the type of care that should be given in the event that an individual is exposed to the chemical, including first-aid measures, symptoms that may occur and special treatment required.

Section 5:
Fire-Fighting Measures

Makes recommendations about fighting fires that may have involved this chemical. Information includes proper extinguishing equipment, hazards such as combustion and proper personal protective equipment.

Section 6:
Accidental Release Measures

Describes measures to take when responding to spills, leaks or accidental release, including containment measures, cleaning practices, evacuation recommendations and more.

Section 7:
Handling and Storage

Reviews safe handling and storage practices, including recommendations such as not eating, drinking or smoking in the vicinity of the chemical. It also focuses on the incompatibilities with other chemicals and ventilation requirements.  

Section 8:
Exposure Controls/Personal Protection

Outlines how to minimize worker exposure through exposure limits, engineering controls and PPE.  

Section 9:
Physical and Chemical Properties

Describes physical and chemical properties of the compound. This may include descriptions of the appearance, odor, melting/freezing point, boiling point, flash point, evaporation rate, solubility, and more.

Section 10:
Stability and Reactivity

Describes the stability or instability of a chemical and what might be necessary to maintain stability of the chemical.

Section 11:
Toxicological Information

Describes the likely ways exposure can happen, for instance, inhalation, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact, and the effects of short and long terms exposure. This section also notes listings of each chemical, such as those on the National Toxicology Program (NTP) Report on Carcinogens, or the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or whether the chemical has been identified as a potential carcinogen by OSHA.

Sections 12 – 15 are included in OSHA’s documents to comply with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). However, OSHA does not enforce the content of these sections, as they’re enforced by other agencies.

Section 12:
Ecological Information (non-mandatory)

Identifies the environmental impacts of the chemical if released into the environment, including toxicity tests, absorption studies and more.

Section 13:
Disposal Considerations (non-mandatory)

Provides guidance for properly disposing of the chemical, including recommended containers, discouraging sewage disposal, considerations for landfills, and more.

Section 14:
Transport Information (non-mandatory)

Requires information related to transporting chemicals, including UN number and shipping name, transport hazard class, environmental hazards, guidance for bulk transport, and more.

Section 15:
Regulatory Information (non-mandatory)

Identifies regulations related to the chemical that aren’t available anywhere else. Regulatory information may be from OSHA, the Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission, etc.

Section 16:
Other Information

Includes when the SDS was prepared, what changes were made from previous versions, or other useful information.

The standard format as outlined above allows for users of each chemical to have a resource to quickly access information for keeping themselves and the environment safe. Find OSHA’s brief on Hazard Communication Standards, click here.

Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)

OSHA’s requirements for SDSs are a part of a larger, global effort to standardize communications related to hazardous chemicals. The United States, Canada, European Union and United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods systems were all used as a basis for global standardization, creating the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, others known as the GHS.

This effort recognized that while chemicals can greatly enhance our way of life across the globe, tracking and communicating their hazards was difficult and incomplete. As chemicals are often produced and distributed across countries, this effort to standardize the classification and labeling of chemicals allows protective measures to be enacted and standardized wherever and whenever the products might be used.

Sections 12 – 16 of each SDS is governed by the GHS, instead of OSHA.  While OSHA does require these sections be included in each SDS, they will not enforce the content of these sections, since the oversight for these is the GHS.

Employer Obligations

Employers are required to have SDSs available for all products that an employee may be exposed to. They should be posted or accessible at any time by workers on the site.

In construction, a variety of chemicals may be in use at any given time. In addition to the SDS for the general contractor, individual subcontractors will also have SDSs for their products. Regardless of whether the products are being utilized by the prime contractor or one of their subcontractors, the SDS must be available for viewing by all workers. Employers will typically refer to their means of tracking and distributing SDS information as a Hazard Communications Program.

Digital Tracking of Safety Data Sheets

With jobsites increasing in complexity and technology, tracking a large quantity of SDSs can be daunting and challenging. In past decades, it was common for SDSs to be stored in hard-copy format, perhaps inside a job trailer.  Today, however, many contractors exchange information virtually or through cloud-based technology. The collecting and sharing of SDS information may be as simple as providing a link to the collection of documents.

Out-of-the-box software systems are now available, cataloguing SDS information and allowing companies to subscribe to their services and make SDSs available to their workers on demand. Some inline SDS companies include:

With virtual access, including web-based, app-based for mobile use, and other methods, these technologies make tracing SDSs easier than ever before.

Increased Safety through Safety Data Sheet

As construction sites are complex and safety is an increasing priority for contractors across the globe, the standardization and use of SDSs is a vehicle for keeping workers and the environment safe. It’s important that jobsites be prepared with SDS records for all substances onsite, and that workers be familiar with them.

Less than two years ago, we launched our weekly blog as a way to share our expertise with the community. Never in a million years did we think we could reach and connect on a deeper level with so many people, both inside and outside of the company walls. We asked ourselves, what more could we do? If you know us, you know that we are never satisfied with “good enough.” With that, we are excited to announce that we are launching our first ever podcast, The Perlo Podcast!

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


Welcome to the first episode of the Perlo Podcast with host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction. With a goal to bring insights into the commercial construction industry through conversations with a variety of leaders, Elissa is joined by Chris McLaughlin, Vice President of Preconstruction Services; Todd Duwe, Vice President of Business Development; and Dennis Bonin, Safety Manager.

Since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry has shifted in a variety of ways, including how we operate, how we communicate, and our openness to new technologies. We’ve seen increased labor shortages, inflationary pressures, and supply chain constraints. The adaptation that the construction industry has shown is, as Elissa puts it, “nothing short of revolutionary.”

Effects on the Environment of Safety

Dennis, Safety Manager, shares his perspective on how COVID-19 and health concerns have affected safety, noting that the most significant impact he has seen is in managing a balance between the different local, state, federal, and individual client regulations. As each jobsite is unique, it is crucial to know what regulations need to be enforced and the guidelines that need to be followed.

Dennis also comments that managing a workforce with personal protective equipment and social distancing requirements has been a challenge. Because many crew members have been rigorously trained in a specific way to help one another, the sudden inability to have two people working in close proximity to each other has been jarring. This has required team members to “relearn” how to do these tasks and what the priorities are to get the job done efficiently under the appropriate guidelines.

The compliance drift has also become a complication we’re currently facing. We started off strong regarding compliance to new regulations, but as jobsites have remained relatively clean, crew members are starting to let their guard down just as we see an increase in new COVID-19 variants.

Although we’ve seen many challenges arise, Elissa notes that some positive aspects of these regulations include paying closer attention to sanitization. While there may have been a bit of drift on jobsites, these sanitization efforts have greatly improved, and we expect to see these remain long after COVID-19 is a factor.

Market Sector Changes and Cost Observations

Elissa switches focus over to Todd, Vice President of Business Development, to find out what he has noticed regarding how market sectors have changed over the past couple of years. Duwe remarks, “Two years ago, it felt like the world was going to drop out. Nobody knew what to expect.” He notes that the market quickly reacted, with some, such as the e-commerce sector, even accelerating. As a result, the industrial market took off, and, especially in the Northwest, we are seeing interest from national developers continue to grow.

Looking at the supply chain constraints, Todd points out that these issues are on a global scale, as many manufactured materials are made abroad. This is a week-by-week challenge but is driving manufacturers to move stateside.

Elissa inquires what the future looks like for the cost of construction materials. Chris, Vice President of Preconstruction Services, makes one particular comment that stands out – costs are not volatile, as they aren’t going down, they are only going up; it’s just a matter of how fast. According to Chris, some items have tripled in cost, while others have stayed relatively flat. At the end of 2021, we heard a lot of inflationary news that would eventually trickle into the construction industry. When asked what the present reality is of updating the price index and how often it has been changing, Chris emphasizes, “It’s down to the day.”

Changes in the Workforce and Sustainability

There are currently many efforts underway to increase diversity in our industry. According to Todd, it ultimately comes down to increasing exposure to our industry and the potential opportunities in construction. This is being done primarily in schools. Schools are starting to incorporate more programs that emphasize CTE – career technical education. Schools are giving students the opportunity to participate in trade-based classes, such as woodshop, welding, and even cooking, all in an effort to show students that there are many opportunities for great careers.

According to Dennis, the two groups of people that have been most impacted by COVID-19 are the elderly and workers that are young parents. We have lost a few of our veteran employees that have chosen not to come back to work due to being at a higher risk. Parents have experienced daycares shutting down and have been required to stay at home to provide care to their children. Some of these people have experienced home-life or found other things they can do from home and are therefore not coming back to the construction industry. 

We are also looking at how the industry is approaching the reduction of our footprint in terms of sustainability, regarding both the environment and our workforce. We have seen that younger generations that are coming into the workforce are more focused on seeing sustainable practices and emphasizing more of a work-life balance. We’ve seen this be gradual, but recently it has gained a lot of attention. Consumers are more focused on where their products are coming from, and companies looking to relocate are looking for more sustainable options.

One example of where the industry is implementing these changes is with mass timber. This building product is a renewable product and is something we’ve seen implemented more often as client demand requires. Todd considers this innovation as an opportunity to learn something new.

Advancements in Technology

Different technologies will not cause us to lose jobs but, rather, will create new jobs that are more technologically based. The technology that we’ve seen on the safety side is an exciting prospect as well. Electronic and battery-operated tools have reduced safety hazards associated with extension cords and other risks. However, we’ve seen that employees are losing proficiency with simple hand tools such as a hammer, which makes it a double-edged sword.

We are also using new technologies, such as the Building Image Modeling (BIM), to identify safety hazards and plan out where things like safety tie-offs should go in advance. The basic technology in the construction site has progressed so much in the last decade, that now Superintendents on the jobsite have technology that allows them to conference in architects and engineers on the spot to show them a situation and come up with a solution almost immediately. All of this innovation eliminates the number of materials that are going into the building, thereby decreasing our overall footprint within the building and in the environment.

Final Thoughts

Elissa ends with a “rapid-fire” question directed at the guests:

Elissa: “Do you see the pace of change within the construction industry continuing to accelerate so quickly, like it has in the last couple of years, as we move forward?”

Chris: “I want to say no. It’s been really hard to keep up, but we’ve always done it, so it has got to be a yes.”

Todd: “Yes. Emphatic yes.”

Dennis: “Definitely a yes.”

Groundbreaking ceremonies have been used for centuries to celebrate the start of a new venture and give thanks to those who made it possible. They have been adapted to fit modern times, but still hold great significance to the construction industry and the community involved. Although nobody is quite sure exactly when the age-old tradition of groundbreaking ceremonies began, they have been an important ritual around the globe for longer than we have written historical records.

Also referred to as “turning of the sod” or “sod-turning,” these ceremonies hold tremendous importance for the A/E/C industry. Even though early ceremonies were heavily rooted in religion, their basic foundations have stood the test of time.

Today, we see groundbreaking ceremonies occur worldwide, sometimes hosting a plethora of influential people including famous celebrities, noble Queens and Kings, presidents and prime ministers from across the globe. Past groundbreaking ceremonies range widely and include:

  • A historic festival for the Washington Monument in 1848 hosted by then-President James K. Polk
  • A dignified ceremony for the Parliament House in Melbourne, Australia in 1980 for Queen Elizabeth II
  • A big celebration for the new LA Clippers stadium in Inglewood, CA, complete with the Mayor of the city, Jerry West, Lawrence Frank, and nearly the entire roster of the Clippers team.

The Beginning of Groundbreaking Ceremonies

The first documented groundbreaking ceremony took place in the year 113 BC in ancient China. Similar traditions would later appear in Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto, and Feng Shui traditions, among others. The idea of groundbreaking comes from the act of physically “breaking” the earth to prepare the land and making a sacred deposit in exchange for a solid and lasting foundation, thereby symbolically consecrating the building location.

This ceremony was originally done because the act of breaking the earth without providing an offering was thought to hurt the earth and that it would anger the gods and spirits that were worshipped by the people.

Typical offerings at the original ceremonies included:

  • Incense
  • Fruit
  • Wine
  • Grains
  • Beans
  • Tea leaves
  • Sacred items, such as holy relics and coins

Modern Significance of Groundbreaking Ceremonies

Although the reasons behind having a groundbreaking ceremony in today’s day and age have little to do with religion, the ancient practice has endured over the centuries. Today, groundbreaking ceremonies in the West hold a different purpose. Although celebratory, they serve as a business activity to create interest in a new building project, generate positive press, and celebrate those who played a part in turning a vision into a reality. Perlo Superintendent, Kyncade Hardy, when looking back on a groundbreaking ceremony with JSR Micro, remarks, “It was really special to see the owners, who flew all the way from Japan, joined by representatives from the City of Hillsboro (Oregon) and all the major players of the project. The Head of Operations gave a toast and a great speech, and it was clear how excited everyone was to be there.”

This photo shows a groundbreaking ceremony for Perlo’s client, JSR Micro. The owners, who flew from Japan, provided participants with sake to bring more cultural significance to the event.

Usually organized by the project developer for a client, modern groundbreaking ceremonies provide an opportunity to highlight how a project will positively impact the community, customers/clients, and employees. People of influence are often elected to deliver a speech, whether it be the founder of the company or a famous politician in the community. These speeches provide a platform to showcase how a company is growing, meeting its mission, and/or planning for the future.

Interestingly, it is still common for groundbreaking ceremonies today to deposit coins into the foundation of the soon-to-be building. Some have even explored using time capsules to hold historical documents related to the location or the project’s journey. However, the most common supplies include shovels and a few hardhats for participants. Shovels, in fact, have transitioned over time to harbor the primary significance of the groundbreaking ceremony. Sometimes, they are painted gold to demonstrate this significance and are meant to be saved for display or as historical artifacts.

Fun Fact
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new CIA headquarters took place in May of 1984 and showcases the shovel used by then-President Ronald Reagan, which can be seen here.

Some companies use these ceremonies as a way to show where they came from and the struggles they may have faced to get to where they are today. Perlo Project Engineer Jakob Eisenbeiss and Project Manager Jordan Peterson both had the opportunity to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the national company Leupold & Stevens. Eisenbeiss notes that the most important aspect of the ceremony was to “highlight that the company continues to be a local Oregon family-owned and operated business founded over 100 years ago.”

Their achievement was emphasized by the five generations of founding family members who were present and participating – some of whom were over 90 years old. Peterson was responsible for coordinating what needed to be provided to keep all company executives and participants informed. He states, “It is always great to work with the companies where a new building means something to them, as it serves as a sign of achievement.”

Changing Trends or Tried-and-True Tradition?

Nowadays, companies are thinking outside of the box when it comes to groundbreaking ceremonies in order to stand out, be noticed, and draw in media attention. In 1997, downtown Los Angeles developer Lowe Enterprises hosted a “wall raising,” otherwise known as a “tilt-up,” to draw attention to the start of their building process. One Santa Monica developer hosted a “bottoming out” party to celebrate completing a parking garage’s lowest level. Skydivers have descended on unsuspecting guests with gold shovels. At the same time, a two-story replica of a personal computer emerges in a high-tech industrial park on the East Coast.

Last fall, a Hollywood developer hosted an event featuring music producer Quincy Jones, a catered lunch by world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, and an explosion of fireworks and confetti. In October of 2012, the San Jose Earthquakes set a Guinness World Record for largest participatory groundbreaking, with a total of 6,256 participants. And in 2014, Brooks Winery, one of Perlo’s clients, broke ground with a bulldozer.

Representatives from Brooks Winery, one of Perlo’s clients, breaking ground with their bulldozer.

Although we are seeing more instances of these unconventional ceremony practices, some still prefer the traditional shovel and hardhat. The tradition of a groundbreaking ceremony has proven to be a universal practice that has prevailed over the centuries, with evidence of it being found in almost all ancient civilizations across the world. The meaning behind these ceremonies, traditional or unconventional, still shows just how vital the act of symbolizing the creation, construction, and building of a new structure is. The idea behind groundbreaking ceremonies, to create a strong and lasting foundation for an architectural feat of any means, maintains a high degree of significance. The idea was emphasized by former President Barack Obama in a past groundbreaking ceremony speech when he expressed, “What we build here won’t just be an achievement of our time, it will be a monument for all time.”

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re planning an upcoming groundbreaking ceremony for the President of the United States or for five generations of your own family, each ceremony is unique and special in its own way. It is essential to know the origin behind the story in hopes that it will drive home the special meaning for everyone involved.

Traditional construction methods often include the use of drywall for walls and ceilings. Installing and properly finishing drywall takes years of learning and honing particular skills, learning both the science and the art of the trade.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, drywall is:
A board made of several plies of fiberboard, paper, or felt bonded to a hardened gypsum plaster core and used especially as wallboard.


The History of Drywall

The most familiar brand of drywall, Sheetrock was created in 1916 by the U.S. Gypsum (USG) company. Originally the material was used in conjunction with plaster, but today, drywall technology has improved to the point where paint can be directly applied to the surface of it.  Drywall is attached to wood or steel framing and can be finished with tape and joint compound to create a smooth wall surface.

Drywall replaced earlier wall finishes, primarily lath and plaster. The lath and plaster process was much more labor intensive than the methods we have today. Following WWII, a growth in suburban households and general home construction led to a significant increase in the use of drywall, with lath and plaster now nearly obsolete. However it can still be found in certain applications, particularly where durability and/or moisture control are important.

Drywall Sizes and Types

Drywall typically comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets, although it can be purchased in many sizes that are smaller, such as 2’ x 2’. It is often stocked in 10’ and 12’ lengths, as well. The material varies in thickness, most commonly 5/8”, 1/2”, 3/8” and 1/4″. There are a variety of board types that are utilized for different purposes:

Standard

This board is typical in wall and ceiling construction.

Mold Resistant

With a paperless backing and coatings that prevent the build-up of mold, this material is used in locations like bathrooms and kitchens.

Moisture Resistant

Used in bathrooms, basements, kitchens, laundry rooms and utility rooms where the drywall may be exposed to mold and moisture.

Fire Resistant

Made with glass fibers and an extra thick design, this drywall is typical for utility rooms, garages and locations near furnaces or wood stoves. It helps prevent the spread of fire by reducing the speed it can travel, generates less smoke, provides added sound control and is often required by building codes.

Soundproof

Thicker than standard drywall and with a noise-dampening core, this material helps reduce sound transmission through walls and ceilings.

Attaching drywall to walls and ceilings can be done with nails or screws, but we recommend screws for attaching the drywall to framing, as nails tend to ‘pop’ with wall movement, changes in moisture conditions and more.

The Installation of Drywall

Installing drywall requires some skill and is more of the “science” part of the work. It’s important that the boards are hung straight and plumb, which requires that the wall framing be straight and plumb as well. Ideally, each board is attached with screws and anchored into wall framing. The wall framing may be supplemented with wood or metal backing in locations where items such as shelving or furniture may be attached. The drywall boards are installed starting at the lowest elevation and stacked from there, with the seams on the vertical face staggered from each other. The staggered installation is critical to maintain the strength of the wall surface, as the joints are the weakest part of the wall.

Often, wall boards are installed with the length of the board placed horizontally, but some exceptions apply to this rule. If the top of the wall will be at the same dimension of the board length, the boards will be stacked side by side.  This reduces the number of joints that need to be finished. Following wall installation, the seams of the drywall receive a layer of tape, followed by a joint compound, which is commonly referred to as ‘mud’.  The mud is sanded and re-applied in multiple layers depending on the level of finish that is desired.

Finishing Drywall

The finishing of drywall is much more the “art” of the process. Training to be a competent finisher can take years to truly master. Architectural specifications dictate the level of finish, ranging from Level 0 to Level 5. These are described fully by the NW Wall and Ceiling Bureau in their Technical Resources page.

Level 0 is simply the installation of drywall with no joint compound or efforts to ‘flatten’ the wall finish. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Level 5, the highest quality level of finish, most often used in spaces with high quality finishes, such as high-end auto dealerships, office buildings, hotels and more. While the levels have descriptions, finishing drywall is not black and white. There is skill involved in completing the work and knowing how far to spread out the drywall mud with each progressive layer to make it truly smooth.

Joe York, current General Superintendent for Perlo remarks that, “The craft of drywall finishing is a true art. The best professionals have significant training and excellent craftsmanship. It takes time to master, and the people who are good at it are invaluable.”

Environmental Conditions for Drywall Installation and Finishing

The existing environmental conditions when drywall is installed and finished can make a big difference in the quality of the end product. Temperature and humidity effect the speed with which the joint compound material dries. This technical document for Gypsum Wallboard and Winter Weather provides a chart that outlines drying times for joint compounds.

Since drywall is often installed in buildings that are under construction and may not have complete heating systems, contractors must ensure that temporary heating and ventilation are running both during and after the work is completed. A failure to properly maintain the humidity and temperature can lead to excessive shrinkage, cracking, or simply delays in completing the work due to slow drying times.

A critical component of the heating and airflow is to ensure that the heat is not directed to only one location. Equally as important as having heat, the air must be evenly spread across the area. Typically this is accomplished using large fans to distribute the heat flow.

Careers in Framing and Drywall

Living wage jobs are available in the framing and drywall industry. Union apprenticeships range from $24/hr to $37/hour, with journeyman and foreman wages ranging into $40+/hour. When individuals are a part of the union, wages include benefits such as healthcare and retirement. The union offers trade training and classes, and connections with local companies for employment. Workers in these trades may work on both the exterior or interior of buildings, but are most often working in dry spaces.

Finding a Great Drywall Contractor

Many of the strategies to find a great drywall contractor follow the path we’ve previously discussed for finding great building contractors. If you’re looking for a great drywall contractor, here are some tips to remember:

  • Verify licensing with the Construction Contractors Board.
  • Verify that they have proper insurance.
  • Ask to see examples of work through photos or, if possible, in-person tours.
  • Ask for several references and call each to discuss their work.

If you have further questions about finding the right fit for your job, or need a consultant to review work in progress, the NW Wall and Ceiling Bureau may be available to help review your project.  

Final Thoughts

In short, it’s important to note that the drywall trade is nuanced and requires training and skill to properly deliver. The quality of the drywall finish in a given space can make or break the ambiance of the room and can also affect the lifespan of the wall finish.

Lastly, we want to take a moment to thank our many drywall and framing partners for their work on Perlo’s projects. Thank you to Randy Clunas at The Harver Company for his contributions to this article.

If you’ve been following along these last few weeks, you’ve already read the first three in our four-part Year in Review series for 2021. If you missed them, you can find them in our Newsroom here:

As the year officially comes to a close, today we’ll wrap up the last in our four-part series. We’ll celebrate and explore more about Perlo’s community involvement and accolades in 2021.


The Perlo Community in 2021

Here at Perlo, we work hard to maintain a positive, inclusive and fun culture for our people to be a part of. This includes giving back to our people, our community and our industry. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged us to find new and unique ways to maintain our award-winning company culture. Still, in 2021, we have done just that. In July, our office staff returned full time to the office, utilizing social distancing and mask policies to keep all of our workers safe. We have worked collectively to create a jovial atmosphere, amid a lot of hard work, through small group meetings, a book club, small gatherings for happy hours, and more.

In March of this year, we adapted our Fiscal Year-End celebration for 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic to be a drive-through event. Employees drove through our parking lot and stopped at various stations to receive their annual performance bonuses, special treats and a yearbook. Among the year’s chaos, Perlo continued to hold internal company events. One of our most popular included the Perlo Turkey bowl, an outdoor flag football event held just before Thanksgiving.

In addition, 2021 at Perlo featured:

  • Office employee block parties
  • Jobsite tours for all staff members
  • Christmas ornament and tree decorating
  • Halloween Costume Party
  • Office and Superintendent Holiday Luncheon
  • Ugly Holiday Sweater Walk

Perlo Cares Program

This year, our Perlo Cares team members volunteered more than 336 philanthropy hours of time with 7 different organizations, including Store to Door, Adopt-a-road, The Angels in the Outfield, and more. Charitable giving of goods as well as sponsorships and direct donations are a large part of our philanthropic efforts each year. Some of our giving has included:

320 turkeys given out to employees and community groups before Thanksgiving

Over 400 coats and toys collected by Perlo and donated to The Angels in the Outfield Holiday Store

Loan of generators during the winter storm in February to power the Parrott Creek Ranch facility

We also made direct donations to:

Company Growth

Perlo has been on a growth trajectory for many years, and 2021 has been busier than ever. As we’ve grown, we have searched high and low to find the best talent to add to our team. So far this year, we have hired 37 new office staff or superintendents and 156 field crew members. We continue to seek additional candidates for project managers, project engineers, estimators and superintendents. If you’re interested in joining our team, check out our careers page and apply today! 

2021 Company Accolades

We are proud to have achieved a variety of awards from industry groups this year, including multiple Development of the Year awards, the 100 Best Companies award, and more. Several individuals also received recognition, including:

DJC’s
Hard Hat Safety Award

Chris McInroe
Project Director

PBJ’s
Forty Under 40 Award

Elissa Looney
Director Strategic Initiatives

PBJ’s
Phenoms & Icon Award

Chris Gregg
Sr. VP of Operations

DJC’s
Building Diversity Award

Todd Duwe
VP of Business Development

As a company, we are proud to have received the following awards:

  • CAB, SIOR, NAIOP Development of the Year Runner-Up (Mahlum TI)
  • CAB, SIOR, NAIOP Development of the Year Finalist (Columbia Distributing)
  • CAB, SIOR, NAIOP Development of the Year Winner (Portland Meadows)
  • CICP 2021 Law Enforcement Partner Award Winner
  • DJC 2021 Top Project of the Year Winner (Columbia Distributing)
  • DJC 2021 Oregon’s Reader Rankings Best General Contractor (Rank #1)
  • Oregon Business’ 2021 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon (Rank #8)
  • Oregon Business’ 2021 100 Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon (Winner)
  • Oregonian 2021 Top Workplaces (Rank #7)
  • PBJ 2021 Fastest Growing Private Companies (Rank #124)
  • PBJ 2021 List of Middle Market Companies (Rank #8)
  • PBJ 2021 Commercial Contractors List (Rank #15)
  • PBJ 2021 Philanthropy Award (Rank #37)
  • PBJ 2021 Healthiest Employers in Oregon 100-499 Employees (Top 15)

This year held its fair share of trials and tribulations. However, our people at Perlo succeeded in making it an incredible and memorable year by keeping culture and company growth at the top of our priorities. This year has set a new standard for success, and we look forward to 2022 and all it has to bring.  

Perlo is well known for our industrial portfolio and larger projects across the Pacific Northwest. However, a lesser-known but important part of our business includes tenant improvements and repairs by our Special Projects Group (SPG) team. What started off as small department focused on helping existing clients with minor building repairs has grown into a multi-million-dollar business, and a crucial part of our fabric that allows us to truly service the full lifecycle of our clients’ businesses. Our Special Projects Group will complete nearly $20 million in small projects in 2021 alone, ranging in value from a few hundred dollars to several million.

Today, we’ll look back at several of Perlo’s tenant improvement projects completed this year. 


Nuna Baby TI

This two-story tenant improvement included 13,000 SF of upgraded space, including offices, an employee fitness room, warehouse upgrades and restrooms, as well as the installation of a new elevator. The mezzanine space required new footings, steel columns and brace frames. The finishes for this project included raised shaker-style cabinet doors with custom colors in the kitchen, a butane-fueled fireplace in the break room, custom wall paneling and ceiling tiles, and a living plant wall in the entryway.

The open-to-structure ceiling and large windows installed between the office and warehouse on both levels to view production yielded a unique, modern-industrial feel. In addition to the unique finishes, the team coordinated closely with the tenant’s IT team, which attended nearly every weekly meeting. The project included a robust server room with a raised floor, Liebert cooling system and a specialty Novec Clean Agent fire protection system.

Nuna Baby occupied a core and shell space that Perlo initially constructed. With a 6-month schedule duration for the TI and a completion date of June 30th for a grand opening celebration, the team was challenged by delays in permitting due to COVID protocols in the city. Perlo Project Superintendent, Brent Schmitz, maintained his relationships with the local building inspectors to move forward with some elements of construction ahead of permit issuance. While the permit was delayed by approximately two months, our team was able to make up about one full month of time and finish by the desired completion date.

Additional project challenges included phasing the work to achieve a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy so that the tenant could occupy the fitness area and warehouse while the remainder of the work took place. Our team successfully navigated the warehouse traffic, including racking installation, forklift operators, and other activities throughout construction.  

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

  • Concrete footings
  • Doors, frames and hardware installation
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation, including art and décor
  • Miscellaneous wood framing

Perlo’s relationship with Nuna Baby continues as they look forward to expanding into the remainder of this building and an additional building located next door. 

As Project Manager, Nick David says,

“We really built up a trusting relationship with the owners and tenant. All sides maintained great communications, and they trusted us to build it right. There were changes on the fly that required us to be flexible, and the collaboration and trust amongst all team members really made it all work.”

Perlo Team

Chris McInroe | Project Director

Jeff Hankins | Senior Project Manager

Nick David | Project Engineer

Brent Schmitz | Superintendent

Kathy Ohannessian | APM

BOGS Footwear TI and Spec Suite 125 at Custom Blocks

These two tenant improvements started in July of 2021 and completed the interior build-out of the Custom Blocks space in Portland, Oregon. Comprising of BOGS footwear and an additional speculative space, the two projects were done in just ten weeks and aimed for finishes that achieved a clean, industrial-modern look. With polished concrete floors, a wood base, exposed wood-structure ceiling, and white Timely frames with wood doors, the BOGS TI included approximately 100 lineal feet of custom wood and steel shelves made from vertically laminated 2 x 4’s.

The build-out also included:

  • Four (4) private offices
  • One (1) conference room
  • A break room
  • A large open office area
  • Collaboration spaces

While both projects were relatively smooth, material lead times were a significant challenge. With a short project duration, lead times of eight weeks on materials such as glass, doors, frames, and appliances were critical. To prevent delays on the glass, the team worked with the frame and glazing suppliers to custom order each piece to match in lieu of the standard field measure following frame installation. Appliances had an eight-week lead time, but along with much of the United States, shipping delays caused these to be delivered even later than expected. 

Perlo has now completed five (5) tenant improvements within this building, including the Roundhouse TI, Mahlum TI, SAXX TI, and finishing with the BOGS and Spec Suite TI’s.  Prior to these tenant improvements, the building was used as a stamping mill. The owner has maintained many unique features that demonstrate the building’s history within their renovations.

Senior Manager of Special Projects Group, Jeff Hankins, noted that,

“the respect for the history of the building and the components that the owners chose to leave was neat to see. We really enjoyed how unique these projects turned out, even though the build-outs were relatively simple.”

Perlo Team

Jeff Hankins | Senior Project Manager

Brent Schmitz | Superintendent

McKayla Marshall | APM

Salem MAT Clinic TI

This renovation project created an updated drug treatment clinic for the Salem area, owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. The Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) clinic was constructed in a building with neighboring tenants occupying the second floor, and our teams successfully maintained their functionality throughout construction.

The project included new exam rooms, a welcoming reception area, childcare space, and counseling rooms. To complete this work, construction teams completed soft demolition, interior wall construction, flooring and paint, and a new pharmacy space. Additional work included reconfigured zoning for the mechanical system to maximize existing rooftop units. The project also included an extensive security system with special attention to the pharmacy and entrance/exit.

Particular care was taken to work with all of the regulatory agencies that oversee clinics such as these. They include:

  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Oregon Health Authority (OHA)
  • United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Our construction teams have worked on several projects for the tribes over the last few years and continue to provide pricing feedback for future projects.

Perlo teams self-performed the following scopes:

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

Of these projects, Project Manager Taylor Regier noted,

“The services these clinics provide to the communities around them are critical. With the restrictions on zoning for where these can be placed in relation to neighborhood schools and daycares, the tribe has spent a significant amount of time picking their locations and putting thought into how best to serve the community with each one.”   

Perlo Team

Taylor Regier | Project Manager

Christian Rohr | Superintendent

Kayla Davis | APM

Special Project Group Roof Repair & Awning Collapse Projects

The Winter Storm of February 2021 rocked the Portland Metro area, knocking down trees and cutting off power to tens of thousands of residents for a week or more. The accumulation of snow wreaked havoc on many residential and commercial buildings as the snow load stressed building members beyond their limits.

Our Special Projects Group is available 24/7 for emergencies of this nature. Our trusted group of engineering consultants and subcontractors help us to move quickly, efficiently, and safely in instances such as these. Perlo was called upon to help repair many businesses across the region, engaging in temporary shoring and protection measures to minimize damage and prevent further collapse, as well as rebuilding efforts to make these structures whole.

Here’s a snapshot of the work we completed to restore these snow-laden buildings back to full occupancy:

Les Schwab, Powell Boulevard

The existing roof collapsed over the service bay. To repair and re-construct this building, our teams installed CMU bracing on the rear wall to stabilize the building and remove all damaged materials. We then built a new shear wall to stabilize the showroom, which allowed Les Schwab to re-open and resume operations at about 30% capacity. Temporary power was pulled from the alignment bay building next door to power the showroom, as the damage cut the power to this area. PGE has now provided temporary service so that both buildings can be operating at full capacity.

Due to lead times of materials, the team re-designed the structure for wood trusses in lieu of steel trusses. Perlo is currently leading the coordination of the design and permitting processes in conjunction with architects at Mackenzie to get approval for the rebuild. This project is still underway at this time.

Project Manager, Caitlin Nault, said that, ”the local teams and design team, as well as the corporate Les Schwab teams, have all been really engaged and helpful in moving this project forward.”

Perlo Team

Caitlin Nault, Project Manager
Bryan Esler, Superintendent
Tyler Broderick, Foreman
Kathy Ohannessian, APM

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. Along with VLMK Engineering + Design, a new replacement structure was designed and installed to replace the facility’s roof joists and rear wall. Additionally, the entire building was re-roofed as part of this effort. Les Schwab was able to remain operational for the duration of construction.

Perlo Team

Caitlin Nault, Project Manager
Bryan Esler, Superintendent
Kathy Ohannessian, APM

Les Schwab, Clackamas

The awning at this facility collapsed under the snow load. Perlo removed the damaged structure, furnished and installed a new awning, repaired paint to match existing, updated the signage anchorage, and re-installed the building signage.

Perlo Team

Caitlin Nault, Project Manager
Tyler Broderick, Foreman
Kathy Ohannessian, APM

Gresham Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Roof Repair

With significant damage to their existing building, our teams mobilized in response to more than 11,000 SF of collapsed roof structure. Initial work included safely removing the collapsed structure, fixing damaged Repair Shop equipment and finishes, as well as building a new temporary shear wall and connecting temporary power so that the building could be partially re-opened for business.

Designs took place and construction began to rebuild the removed building sections with new wood trusses, built-up roofing, rebuilding the electrical room, compressor room and tool room. The scope included all new electrical, air and oil distribution, a new vehicle exhaust system, epoxy floor coating, Service Write-up Area finishes, and power to new lifts.

Perlo Team

Kathleen Buono, Senior Project Manager
Steve Dusenberry, Superintendent
Darrell March, Superintendent
Kayla Davis, APM

NWIC Building 1

Built in 1967 with cantilevered glulam beams, the snow load caused one (1) curved glulam beam to fail. Earthquake strapping prevented complete failure and further damage. With significant electrical conduit and fire sprinkler piping running underneath the glulam beam, options to repair were not simple. With help from Mackenzie., an approach utilizing sections of steel channel spliced together once in place was developed.

This method required steel fabrication with curved steel to match the beam, jacking the broken section of the glulam beam into place and securing it with lag screws to act as blocking for the steel channels. A 25’ x 25’ section of roofing was replaced at the broken glulam section and tied into the existing to seal up the envelope.

Perlo Team

Russell Emmerson, Project Manager
Ray Caswell, Superintendent
Kayla Davis, APM

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.

Perlo Team

Nick David, Project Manager
Tracy Robinson, Superintendent – demo
Mark Helling, Superintendent – construction
Brooke Hazel, APM

Final Thoughts

Stay tuned for next week, when we look back at more of our completed in 2021 projects!

Continuing with our Year in Review series for 2021, this week we’re focusing on a few of our industrial projects. From ground up construction to tenant improvements, our teams have completed projects in a variety of sub-markets this year.


Frederickson DWA7

The Frederickson DWA7 project consisted of a new, 144,000 SF tilt-up concrete building to house an Amazon Distribution center. The new building features two 42,000 SF canopies and twelve high speed roll-up doors for van loading usage, a concrete loading dock with fourteen dock positions outfitted with pit levelers and overhead doors. Additionally, there is 14,000 SF of office and multiple remote restrooms.

To carry out the work, the teams logged and cleared a 38-acre site, constructed a full public road extension through the site, completed wetland mitigation and six stormwater infiltration galleries.

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

  • Structural concrete including foundations, slab on grade and tilt walls
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation such as lockers, plan holder racks, and roof accessories
  • Doors, frames & hardware installation

The project faced significant permit delays, including having to wait for the right-of-way work permit until late July in lieu of the anticipated February date. Post permit approval, the jurisdiction asked for several revisions to their required scope of work, such as changes to the rapid flash beacon specifications, adding a new video detection system, more light poles at the street, and more. With responsiveness and expediting materials, the team persisted to complete the work.

Final inspections occurred at the end of November, though the structures were complete and occupied several months prior. Once Amazon moved into the building, they asked us to complete multiple ongoing projects to modify the space for their needs. The neighboring tenant also requested additional work items, such as fencing and signage.

Senior Project Manager, Jacob Leighter, noted that

“Ray did a fantastic job of pushing the overall schedule. Several Amazon executives noted that we were much further ahead on our schedule that other general contractors working on buildings for them across the country. Michael, Mitchell and Nick really worked hard to juggle all of the County revisions and the work involved in carrying out that work.”

Perlo Team

Thomas Quesenberry | Project Director

Jacob Leighter | Senior Project Manager

Mitchell Powers | Project Engineer

Michael Terryah | Project Engineer

Ray Vigue | Superintendent

Nick Conner | Superintendent

Tim Dorey | Foreman

Kevin Ripp | Foreman

Kayla Davis | APM

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

224 Logistics Park

224 Logistics is comprised of an existing multi-building campus with the primary emphasis on voluntary seismic upgrades to the main warehouse. This warehouse is approximately 1,000,000 SF and construction work included structural seismic work, re-roofing the entire building, as well as painting of the main warehouse and freezer buildings.

The building was constructed over many years, with the original building for United Grocers built in 1952, with multiple additions between then and now. The key plan to the right demonstrates the many additions and year.

The structural work included seismic upgrades with roof strapping and nailing during the re-roofing, new cast-in-place walls and footings, and wood beams for structural support. Interior work included demising walls to allow for multi-tenant leasing and separating the chilled areas from the dry goods warehouse space. Exterior work included painting and an asphalt grind and overlay, new skylights and roof accessories, roofing, roof crickets and drains, and sealing up gaps below the dock doors with fabricated screens. In addition, we replaced dock doors, demolished the banana rooms and all associated mechanical equipment.

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Seismic upgrades
  • Dry-rot repairs
  • Roof decking
  • Concrete footings Installation
  • Cast-in-place walls
  • Roof crickets and accessories  

The project was located in a residential area, so our teams spent time ensuring the neighbors The team completed approximately 3-months of discovery work to identify and clarify the full scope of the work required. Our teams began construction while the building was partially occupied, though it was vacant by the time the seismic upgrades started.  To accommodate the tenant, our teams started work the newest parts of the building, and then worked towards the remainder of the space as the tenant vacated.

Of the project, Project Manager Adam Smelley notes,

“The project was unique since the building was constructed from 1952 through 1991. About every 8 years they would do an addition, which meant that nothing was consistent. Additionally, maintenance hadn’t been done well. So, it was an interesting space to work in and find solutions to the problems we found.”

Perlo Team

Adam Smelley | Project Manager

Jacob Carr | Project Engineer

Eric Huth | Lead Superintendent

Mike Pillster | Superintendent – CIP Walls

Mark Helling | Superintendent – Roofing

Glen McDaniel | Foreman

Kayla Davis | APM

Brooke Carswell | Admin Assistant

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

OBRC New Office Building and Warehouse

This new can and bottle recycling center consisted of a new concrete tilt-up building with 38,000 SF of two-story office space and 103,000 SF of 28-foot clear height warehouse. The office space included a large entry vestibule, multiple restrooms and breakrooms, open workspaces, and executive offices. Uniquely, OBRC required Quiet Rock on all exposed warehouse to office demising walls, and all MEP penetrations had to be sealed to reduce warehouse noise and fumes from infiltrating the office.

Site preparations included a large retaining wall and an abnormally deep sanitary pump system, as well as extensive groundwater control with a new wetland mitigation pond. The presence of excessive groundwater required installation of dewatering well points during earthwork, site development and foundation installation. Permanent groundwater infiltration detention systems were installed to handle the excessive underground water and direct it to the wetland.

One challenge on this project included a delay in getting permanent power to the building through PGE. This required the construction team to build out the office space prior to having permanent power installed.  Special attention had to be paid to quality material delivery with limited lighting available during construction.

OBRC had a hard deadline to be moved out of their previous space.  Our team worked diligently with Clackamas County to ensure permits could be achieved and OBRC’s move dates could be met. The project duration was 10.5 months.  Perlo continues to work with OBRC to complete bottle drop facilities in multiple locations. 

Jacob Leighter, Senior Project Manager said,

“They were a great client to work with and I enjoyed being on their team. It’s great that we can keep working with them on other projects.’ Superintendent Darrell Budge agrees, stating that, ‘all of the players on this project were great. I really like the OBRC team.”   

Perlo Team

Jacob Leighter | Senior Project Manager

Darrell Budge | Superintendent

Isaac Hobb | Foreman

Kayla Davis | APM

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

Columbia Distributing Headquarters TI

In addition to Columbia Distributing’s new warehouse in Canby, Perlo’s teams completed a second generation build-out for their new West Coast office headquarters, as well. This reimagined office space now includes workstations, private offices and 48 ancillary areas including conference rooms, a breakroom, collaboration areas and even a pub.

By expanding into this new space, the company is further allowed to grow and remain in close proximity to their warehouse. The space included high end finishes, complete with indoor plants. The pub is a highlight of the space. Perlo built the original core, shell and former tenant space, so we didn’t find any surprises in terms of the building itself. However, the project was  constructed in the height of the pandemic as well as the wildfires that ravaged the region. In spite of all this, the team kept the project on schedule.

Perlo teams self-performed the following scopes:

  • Miscellaneous accessories
  • Doors, frames & hardware
  • Plumbing pour back for trenches

Jordan Peterson, Senior Project Manager for space, said of the project,

“It was a great team. JLL was the owner’s representative and LRS was the architect. Despite COVID and wildfires and everything, the team was in good spirits. The project meetings were the most fun I’ve ever had. There was so much laughter. It was great” 

Perlo Team

Jordan Peterson | Senior Project Manager

Kory Stark | Superintendent

Joshua Swake | Project Manager

Composites One

The Composites One building includes a new, concrete tilt-up warehouse which needed to comply with H3 occupancy requirements. Of the 73,000sf of new building, 45,000 SF is being utilized by Composites One for their composite material distribution business which serves the hi-tech and wind energy manufacturing sectors. The remaining portion was built as speculative warehouse space for a future tenant, which Perlo recently completed for Article.com.

The project was built on a mitigated wetland, which had to be reviewed and approved by the Army Corp. of Engineers before construction could begin. In addition, this land was potentially an archeologically sensitive site, which meant that there was the possibility for native American artifacts to be found during excavation operations. This meant that a full-time archaeological representative had to be onsite to ensure no elements were disturbed if found.

Elements of the project included a small office, specialty auxiliary rooms for their materials that required specialty HVAC systems for temperature control and exhaust, as well as explosion proof wiring.

The H3 occupancy required the following elements be completed over the course of construction:

  • Fireproofing of steel deck, joists and columns
  • Explosion proof wiring
  • Gas lines run on the roof in lieu of inside like usual
  • Recessed interior slab-on-grade for containment purposes

Perlo teams self-performed the following scopes:

  • Concrete, including sloped slab on grade, foundations & tilt walls
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation
  • Doors, frames & hardware installation
  • Roof accessories installation

One unique element of this work besides the challenges that the Coronavirus pandemic presented was that the building team was located all across the country. The architect was out of Iowa, the owner in Chicago, the distribution staff in Texas, and another owner’s representative was in California.

As Senior Project Manager Jordan Peterson said,

“we talked to representatives from every region during each team call, and they compared lessons learned from across the country. The client knew what they were doing, and what they wanted, and we delivered.”  

Perlo Team

Todd Duwe | Project Executive

Jordan Peterson | Senior Project Manager

Regan Cloudy | Field Engineer

Jack Johnson | Superintendent

Wally Adkins | Foreman

Kayla Davis | APM

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

Final Thoughts

Stay tuned for next week, when we look back at more of our completed in 2021 projects!

We’re near the end of 2021, and it’s time to look back at what our construction teams have accomplished this year. We have completed work in a variety of market sectors, including education, industrial, high-tech, tenant improvements, emergency repairs, and more.

Today we’re looking back at a few of our education projects. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, special care goes into education projects to ensure the safety of students and staff, quality of materials and respect for public funding. Our teams are proud to have delivered each of these buildings, whether new or renovated, for our local communities. 


Marrion Elementary School

Completed in July, this brand new, 60,000 SF ground-up elementary school was a new prototype for the Evergreen School District and includes both one and two-story structures. The new building replaced the former Marrion Elementary School on the same site. Included in the construction is an open-to-structure commons, media center, gymnasium, outdoor play area, basketball court and access-controlled main entrance.

Built to be an open-concept school, Marrion Elementary provides its students and faculty with features such as movable partition walls between classrooms instead of hard-walls, radiant floor heating in the kindergarten rooms as well as extensive sound-absorbing materials throughout.

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

  • Concrete
  • Wood-framing
  • Doors, frames and hardware
  • Miscellaneous accessories

In addition to structural wood framing, our crews also utilized cross-laminated plywood to construct a beautiful and functional ‘Learning Stair’ in the lobby for impromptu learning opportunities. During preconstruction, the project team completed BIM coordination with the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection trades to identify any conflicts with the building structure and resolve them. This process helped streamline construction and prevent delays during onsite construction.   

Of the team, Senior Project Manager Drew Carter says,

“George, Nick, Matt and the Perlo foremen did a really great job of completing a fast-tracked project in spite of tough environmental conditions and built it on-schedule, with a high-quality delivery and significant attention to detail. There was a willingness on everyone’s part to roll-up their sleeves, jump in and solve problems and now it’s one of the district’s nicest buildings.”

Perlo Team

Drew Carter | Senior Project Manager

Matt Miller | Project Engineer

George Trice | Superintendent

Derek Diaz | Superintendent

Nick Butler | Superintendent

Darrell March | Superintendent

Cy Whitmore | Foreman

McKayla Marshall | APM

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

W. Verne McKinney Elementary School

This elementary school renovation and expansion in Hillsboro, Oregon included a new gymnasium addition, seismic upgrades, ADA improvements, and upgrading and replacing finishes and systems throughout the school campus. The project schedule was split into two categories: the gymnasium addition, and the interior renovation work. Starting in October of 2020, the team began the gymnasium addition. Simultaneously, they completed exploratory demolition work to confirm the work scope required for the existing building renovations. At that time, most students were still engaged in distance learning, though staff was occupying the space.

The exploratory demolition uncovered additional work scopes, which led District decision makers and our teams to begin off-hours construction work on the existing school for the remainder the year. This early work allowed the project teams to add significant length to the front side of the project schedule without delaying the final completion date of August 2021.

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Demolition
  • Miscellaneous accessories installation, including tack boards, white boards, and corner guards
  • Doors/frames/hardware installation
  • Dryrot repairs
  • Seismic upgrades

The project was located in a residential area, so our teams spent time ensuring the neighbors were minimally impacted by our work. These efforts include minimizing noise during off-hours, routing traffic appropriately, and keeping dust contained.

Of the project, Superintendent John Tompkins says

“I always enjoy giving back to communities. That’s the reason I like working on school projects. This community, in particular, seemed extremely grateful that we were there. There was also a good connection between the principal and our construction team.  They can lean on us and we’re always there to help.”

Perlo Team

Stephen Alger | Project Manager

John Tompkins | Superintendent

Graig Marshall | Foreman

McKayla Marshall | APM

Knight Elementary School Renovations

This approximately 60,000 SF renovation of an existing elementary school In Canby, Oregon included re-roofing, new mechanical units, lighting and finish upgrades throughout. In addition, work included upgrading the front entry vestibule to improve access and security. All construction work was completed during the summer of 2021 while school was out, requiring up-front planning to ensure the full scope could be completed on time.

The largest scope item included the re-roofing and mechanical work. With three distinct roofing types,  including SBS built-up roofing, asphalt shingles and a PVC membrane at the barrel structure on the gymnasium.  Two separate roofing subcontractors were procured to complete this work, with assistance on structural framing, dry rot repairs and seismic strapping from Perlo crews.

Perlo teams self-performed the following scopes:

  • Selective demolition
  • Wood framing
  • Doors/frames/hardware installation
  • Toilet accessories removal and replacement installation
  • Seismic bracing and framing
  • Miscellaneous steel installation

Project manager Adam Smelley said,

“I always enjoy giving back to communities. That’s the reason I like working on school projects. As with any re-roof on an older building, we found some surprises. When we removed the existing standing seam roof, for instance, it had a layer of old shingle roofing underneath. We expected some dryrot, but not an added layer of roofing materials.  But on buildings that old, you never know what you might find.”   

Our project teams wholeheartedly enjoyed working with the District teams. Superintendent Kyncade Hardy stated that “The whole district was great to work with. They were quick to respond and made smart decisions, and were just good, common-sense people to work with. I would absolutely work with them again.”

Perlo Team

Adam Smelley | Project Manager

Kyncade Hardy | Superintendent

Nathan Wright | Foreman

Crystal Bentley | APM

Concordia University Nursing School

This higher education project included a new and improved learning environment for a local nursing school with an 18,000 square foot expansion to their original 6,000sf space. The project included many modifications to better fit the school’s needs. Construction was completed while the space was occupied, so our work was phased to accommodate the students and staff in the area. With work beginning in November of 2020, our teams were faced with the added challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented. Most of the building inspections and project meetings were held via remote platforms such as Zoom and Teams. Additionally, the ownership teams are not local to our area, and we met them in person only a few times over the course of construction.

To modify and maximize the space, previously under-utilized areas were transformed into open study areas, private testing rooms, a clinical skills lab and simulation rooms. In the simulation rooms, future healthcare workers practice their craft under the close watch of instructors in nearby viewing rooms.

As virtual learning was a key need for Concordia, the space was also outfitted to allow for online learning. Work on the Concordia Nursing School project was completed on time in April of 2021. 

Superintendent Kory Stark noted that,

“The onsite crews and subcontractors were really excited about building the nursing stations, as the materials were top-of-the-line, and a lot of detail went into the training rooms to accommodate the headwalls. It was like we were building out actual hospital rooms, and that takes a lot of coordination and precision to do correctly.” 

Perlo Team

Erich Schmidt | Project Manager

Kory Stark | Superintendent

Crystal Bentley | APM

BASE CTE Renovation

This project included relocating and updating existing classrooms, shop spaces and science labs within an existing building in Beaverton, Oregon. BASE CTE is the Beaverton Academy of Science and Engineering (BASE) Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, which: “engage every student in high-quality, rigorous, and relevant classes, designed to help students turn their passions into paychecks and their dreams into careers. CTE programs partner with local businesses and industry to create opportunities that promote creativity, innovation, and leadership, which are relevant to the job markets of today.”

The project consisted of the reconfiguration of an existing school to better suit their classroom size and teaching needs. Spaces included a large chemistry lab, wood shop, and added classrooms, as well as relocating their engineering and maker space, bio-lab and installation of new computer labs, and motion lab equipment. The wood shop included a complete dust collection system, and the team also installed a small cabinet-style paint booth. New HVAC systems and LED lighting were also installed in the renovated spaces.

The schedule for construction was extremely tight, with a completion date that was dictated by the grant funding for the work. Preliminary site investigations began during Spring Break, with some minor work completed during the night shift between Spring and Summer Break.

Perlo teams self-performed the following scopes:

  • Concrete pour-back
  • Equipment, tool and furniture relocation and installation

Project manager Stephen Alger noted that,

“the engineering teacher who was receiving the new wood shop was ecstatic to be able to show his students the mechanical side of the classroom, including the dust collection system, air compressors, and CNC machine.  Though he talked of retirement, he said he was going to keep working for several more years because the new space is so amazing. I really enjoyed seeing the staff so excited for the space.”   

Project team members embraced the challenge of verifying that all stakeholders had input on the room and equipment layouts. With anchorage required for many pieces, these details needed to be thought out and dialed in early in the planning process.

The project was completed on time in August of 2021, meeting the deadline for the grant funding and completing in time for students to utilize the space for the 2021-2022 school year.

Perlo Team

Stephen Alger | Project Manager

Steve Dusenberry | Superintendent

Kathy Ohannessian | APM

Final Thoughts

Perlo has been pleased to be involved with so many public projects this year.  The ability to contribute to our communities through our schools is rewarding for us and our teams. Stay tuned for next week, when we look back at more of our completed in 2021 projects!


As we approach Thanksgiving 2021, we want to say to our clients, trade partners and employees: Thank you!

Thank you for a great year and for your partnership with Perlo. We wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, and as we continue into winter, a happy holiday season.

Technology enhancements have changed the face of industries across the globe, and construction is no exception. In the last two years since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual technologies for communications, workflow and remote meetings have kept construction companies and projects operating and even improving in efficiency.

Some examples of cloud-based technology utilization that are improving the speed and efficiency of construction include:


Project Management Cloud Based Software Options

Multiple platforms for cloud-based project management software exist, allowing teams to communicate, share documents, verify changes and track costs from remote locations. These technologies streamline the efforts between the office management teams, onsite supervision, owners and design teams.

Some of the companies offering cloud-based project management software include:

Procore
Procore is a popular software designed primarily for general contractors and is available for desktop or mobile use, and can be used with iOS, Android or Windows devices. Procore is reported to be user-friendly, cost efficient and to have great customer service. It is also rated an A+ with the Better Business Bureau.

Buildertrend
Also scoring an A+ rating with the BBB, Buildertrend is geared more towards home remodeling contractors. The platform works through web browsers, as well as iOS and Android apps.

RedTeam
This online construction management platform is best for small to mid-size construction firms, and like the former two products, has an A+ BBB ranking. This web-based platform is accessible as long as users have internet access, and offers a mobile app called FieldShare for remote use.

Sage300 CRE and Sage 100
Formerly known as Timberline, this software is for large scale construction projects with complex workflows. Sage 100 is designed for small to mid-size contractors. This software isn’t as mobile-friendly as some of the options listed above.

Autodesk BIM 360
This cloud-based construction management tool can be used on the web or on iOs or Android apps. This option is higher priced than many others, though it has extensive features and usability. This program makes the most sense for large projects and teams.

Viewpoint
This software integrates construction accounting and project management software with a robust offering of programs that can be tailored to each user’s needs. With cloud-based systems, this platform can be used for the office or field communications and documentation.

These companies are only a partial list of the cloud-based construction management software firms available. Each caters to a slightly different clientele, and users are wise to extensively investigate which option best fits their business needs before committing to one of them.

Virtual Meeting Platforms

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meeting platforms have exploded in popularity. In fact, This market increased by 500% in the first two months of the pandemic, and the majority of workers believe that these meetings are more productive than in-person meetings. 

Over this time period, construction teams switched most meetings to virtual platforms like Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams, and even performed virtual site inspections with local jurisdictions utilizing mobile phones to show spaces to inspectors.

The implication of virtual platforms means that the fast past of the construction industry will only increase as teams cut down on travel time for meetings, jurisdictions can ‘visit’ infinitely more jobsites in a single day, and ownership or design teams can remain informed even if they’re located across the country or globe.

While conference calls have been in existence for many years, the increasing availability of video for group meetings has revolutionized the effectiveness of these virtual discussions. Individuals can still see facial expressions, for instance, or screen share documents for group review. This ability combined with virtual project management software so that all parties have current documents at hand contribute to effective and efficient meetings, even if each participant is in a separate location.

Technology Contributing to Efficient Delivery Methods

Construction, design and ownership teams can engage in a variety of contractual arrangements related to the project delivery model. Some collaborative delivery models, like Progressive Design-Bid-Build or Integrated Project Delivery rely heavily on efficient communication and information sharing.   

In the Integrated Project Delivery model, the full scope of the project may not be determined when construction begins. Changes to designs may be issued at a furious pace, increasing the need for instant sharing of documents and clarifications, and tracking to ensure the building is based on the most current designs.

Cloud-based software platforms allow for the quick dissemination of new information, moving from a process that used to take days, to nearly simultaneous delivery to all team members.

Administrators of these cloud-based construction management platforms can see when users have accessed each piece of building information and at what time. This kind of tracking can cut down on arguments from trade partners or team members about whether they were informed of the most recent version of the design.

Cloud-based platforms also enable communication to occur seamlessly and quickly. Responses to RFI’s or change orders, for instance, are instantly accessible within these programs. Where these communications used to require more steps to prepare emails or send hard copies by courier or through fax, the answers are now available as soon as the decision maker has uploaded them to the system.

Encouraging Sustainability through Virtual and Cloud-based Platforms

The topic of sustainability is an ever increasing one in the construction industry, as the United Nations Environment Program has identified buildings and the construction of them as more than 1/3 of global energy use and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Virtual platforms and cloud-based software are one piece of the puzzle in reducing our industry’s contribution to global warming. Utilization of these technologies can:

  • Reduce the utilization of vehicles for travelling to meetings or in-person office spaces
  • Reduce the use of paper for documentation
  • Increase communication related to the availability of sustainable materials and their impact in the project

Programs like LEED, Energy Star or the Living Building Challenge  all require a significant amount of coordination to implement. The ability to share information or have meetings on fully virtual platforms allows us to enact these programs without increasing our need for travel or paper waste.

Final Thoughts

In addition to increasing the speed of our work and efficiency, comprehensive data security has become essential to every aspect of a business. Whether it be confidential employee information, company finances, or confidential design plans, security is a must.

Businesses have expanded to meet the needs of employees working from home or remote sites, relying heavily on cloud-based solutions and services, implementing secure RDP or VPNs. They are deploying MFA authentication, encryption and complex passwords for every user in the company.

Emerging technologies are playing a huge part in revolutionizing the construction industry. Building teams have the opportunity to embrace these changes or fall behind. There is no question that these programs provide increased efficiency and transparency to building projects in a way we have never before been able to achieve.

Construction is challenging, and each season of the year comes with inherent issues that building teams must solve. Primarily related to weather, project crews must be able to adjust their plans according to the conditions they encounter. In many parts of the Pacific Northwest, extensive rainfall from October through April is normal, with Portland receiving an average of 36” of precipitation per year. Recently, in fact, Portland had nearly an inch of rain in only two days’ time.

Wet conditions pose a variety of challenges for jobsites, which differ based on ground-up sites, urban vs. rural sites and the type of construction that is underway. Our teams heavily consider the time of year and the risks involved when scheduling work to consider likely weather conditions.

For instance, ground-up construction sitework is not advised to begin during the wettest weather months without special preparation. When discussing project schedules, it’s worth considering whether shifting the start date or spending dollars on wet weather preparations will provide the best benefit to the owner.

In addition to start dates, good contractors are wise to build in weather delays into the overall project schedule to hedge against costly delays. Many work items cannot be completed in wet conditions. If there is no flexibility in the schedule to accommodate for wet weather delays, completion dates may be missed.


Weather Sensitive Trades

Several construction trades are affected by weather, such as:

  • Painting
  • Paving
  • Roofing
  • Concrete Finishing
  • Excavation

There are ways to complete this work during wet weather if temporary measures like tents can be erected or other means determined. This is often not feasible for items like full parking lot paving, large concrete slab pours, or complete building roofing operations.

Some strategies to mitigate these risks include:

  • Changing project start dates to avoid likely wet weather conditions
  • Watching forecasts for potential dry windows and accelerating or delaying work scopes accordingly
  • Completing work in double shifts or with multiple crews to take advantage of dry weather windows.

Construction teams must sometimes get creative to find solutions when work must be completed during wet weather. If the answer can’t be ‘wait for a dry day’, temporary protection measures will have to be constructed and maintained for the duration of the work.

Site Excavation Challenges

Wet weather conditions pose a number of challenges for greenfield construction sites, including standing water, unstable ground surfaces, and more. When the ground is saturated, it makes any work with heavy equipment challenging, if not impossible. Saturated ground makes it difficult to operate excavating equipment. These machines can sink, become stuck, or just generally make a mess of the ground while trying to complete their work. Additionally, muddy surfaces become a safety hazard that can lead to equipment failure. For instance, cranes or large equipment that have stability jacks rely on the surrounding ground for stabilization. If that surface is no longer stable due to the wet conditions, dangerous conditions can arise.

There are some solutions to wet weather excavation work if an owner is willing to pay the increased cost to properly prepare. Some options include:

  • Shifting the start date to complete site work prior to the wet weather season
  • Placing large rock haul roads and all rock prep under parking lots and building pads prior to the wet weather season.
  • Prepping the site with cement treated soil: a soil-cement that is mixed into the native soil that hardens in place.

If construction of a large site cannot be completed during dry weather windows, we highly encourage cement treatment so that a stable surface is in place for construction. 

Erosion Control and Stormwater Management

In the Pacific Northwest, erosion control and stormwater management are large topics to consider for wet weather construction.  Both are highly regulated, depending on the rules and regulations of the local jurisdiction and The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Jobsites must be prepared to manage all water that lands on their jobsite with proper dewatering and management techniques. Water often must be filtered and/or treated before it can leave the site by natural means or through the local stormwater or sewer systems.

The State of Oregon and Washington require Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead (CESCLE) certification inspectors be present on each jobsite.  These individuals or groups are responsible for inspecting and sampling stormwater on construction sites. These individuals must complete a CESCLE certification course and maintain testing logs onsite. A failure to do so can lead to significant fines.

Safety in Wet Weather

Wet weather comes with a multitude of site safety challenges for crew members.  These include:

  • Increased risk of slips, trips and falls due to muddy or wet surfaces.
  • Decreased visibility if safety glasses are wet, or the environment is dark, foggy or saturated with rain. These conditions also add to the increased risk of slips, trips and falls.
  • Windshields or mirrors can become fogged or clogged with debris, making operating them safely 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. This can lead to safety concerns as well as equipment failure, accidents/injuries or decreased production.
  • Excessive weight of materials due to ponding water or saturation. This can lead to strains or other injuries of workers.
  • Employee visibility – wet and foggy conditions can lead to poor visibility for employees operating machinery, heavy equipment, or passenger vehicles.  A Class II high visibility garment is recommended for all workers. 
  • Slippery tools or materials – working from heights with wet, slippery tools or materials increases the likelihood of these hazards striking workers below.  Utilizing the correct glove type and establishing a drop zone is an important consideration. 
  • 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 conditions without proper protective equipment and waterproof gear are at risk of hypothermia.  A serious health condition, according to the Mayo Clinic, signs of hypothermia can include:

  • Shivering
  • Slurred speech or mumbling
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Weak pulse
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness or very low energy
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Loss of consciousness

This condition is a medical emergency and should be treated as such. Crew members must be equipped with proper PPE and be provided with breaks from the weather at regular intervals.   

Final Thoughts

With proper planning, contractors can avoid the pitfalls and dangers that wet weather presents. Discussions should take place well in advance of work beginning so that the site can be properly prepped, materials ordered and crew members equipped with proper equipment. As is always the case, prevention is the best recipe to keep jobsites safe and on schedule.

If you’re considering a project that must take place during wet weather conditions, we’d encourage you to contact our teams now to discuss your options.

Sustainability conversations have been prevalent for many years in the construction industry, and with the health concerns generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are now an abundance of conversations that focus on green construction and the health of building occupants.

First, what is “green construction” – and why does it matter? The US Green Building Council defines green construction as “a holistic concept that starts with the understanding that the built environment can have profound effects, both positive and negative, on the natural environment, as well as on the people who inhabit buildings every day.” Simply put, “green construction” is an effort to infuse sustainability into the building process from the ground up and then creating structures that promote a healthy environment – both inside and out.

Recent reports show that green construction practices are definitely influencing how buildings are being designed and constructed. Much of this change is being driven by customer demand. The cost to invest in energy efficiencies and other sustainable measures can be daunting, but there is data to support that an investment in energy-efficient buildings can pay off over time. No question this is an effort that requires a long-term perspective rather than a short-term point of view.

According to Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives and the founder of our Special Projects Group, “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.” So how is green construction showing up in the industry?

Below are a couple of the most recognizable sustainability standards that builders, architects, engineers, developers, and other players in the industry are paying attention to.

LEED Certification

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system is the most widely known and most commonly used system in the industry. It was originally formulated by the US Green Building Council to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings in an effort to follow a vision of “buildings and communities that will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation.” More specifically, the organization has a mission to “transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.”

LEED projects demonstrate how this focus on the “whole building process” produce benefits for clients, users of the building, and communities at large. Projects are able to gain LEED Certification or “credits” in nine potential categories. Credits are awarded for how integrative and collaborative the building process is, if attention is paid to public transportation and reduced parking needs, how efficiently materials and resources are used, what mechanisms and systems are set up to increase water use efficiencies, and whether energy efficiencies with a focus on renewable energy are implemented. In addition, LEED credits are awarded for keeping a focus on maintaining open spaces and protecting natural habitat, building structures that minimize or eliminate harmful chemicals for users of the building as well as providing access to fresh air and natural light, how innovative the project is, and whether the project qualifies as an “important project” to the region it’s in.

The Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is one of the most rigorous sustainability standards in the construction industry. The focus is on “making the world a better place” by literally challenging builders, architects, engineers, and developers to create buildings that are entirely self-sufficient from a resource standpoint and “regenerative” in the sense of connecting occupants with light, air, food, nature, and community.

Perlo recently partnered with Mahlum Architects on a project that received a Living Building Challenge certification, one of the first of these certifications to be awarded in Oregon. Specifically, Perlo helped Mahlum earn the “materials petal,” the part of the challenge that demonstrates a low-carbon and low-impact footprint in terms of sourcing building materials. The Perlo/Mahlum team carefully vetted over 350 products and materials to ensure all of them met the health and green standards the Living Building Challenge requires. In addition, Perlo enforced the processes necessary to recycle almost 95% of waste materials generated onsite during construction.

According to Jeff Hankins who served as the Senior Project Manager on the project, “It was important to Mahlum to actually ‘walk the walk’ and really demonstrate that they stand behind green construction. It was an exhaustive process that included a lot of research, especially for the products that don’t come with a ‘declare label’ that clearly states what the product is made of.”

“In the long run,” Hankins continues, “I think that the industry in general is moving towards healthier materials and more sustainable ways of building. It’s just where the market seems to be headed, especially as states like California, Oregon and Washington continue to tighten their building codes.” Programs like the Living Building Challenge will certainly aid in expediting the process of incorporating more sustainable practices into building projects.

Healthier Indoors and the IMMUNE Building Standard

The green construction movement has also put a spotlight on the importance of healthier indoor spaces for employees and occupants. As Elissa Looney shares, “Things like lighting and windows that open into courtyards and other visually pleasing spaces can make a huge difference for workers’ well-being and wellness. And fortunately, this trend goes hand in hand with lower energy consumption.”

Additionally, as employees grapple with the work-from-home movement and creating spaces that people feel safe occupying, there is now more emphasis than ever on clean buildings that prevent the spread of disease. 

The Healthy by Design Buildings Institute (HDBI) is certifying buildings with The IMMUNE Building Standard. “Designed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this unique, global standard is inspired by advanced technologies and procedures successfully used in medical institutions and research facilities and adapted for use in commercial real estate.”

This three-tiered program works to boost health performance indicators for the spaces we occupy, encouraging health and wellness for employees and employers.

Final Thoughts

The decision about whether to include “green” or sustainable building practices into a project is ultimately one the client makes. “For every project we do,” shares Todd Duwe, Vice President of Business Development at Perlo, “we like to spend time up front with clients to help them understand their options, what those options will cost, and how that investment may pay off both in terms of impact on the planet and impact on people in the building.”

It will be exciting to see how green construction and the push for healthier environemnts evolves over the next several years, especially as demand continues to grow and as our world navigates the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.

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. 

Safety, cleanliness and extensive planning go into every construction project, but these elements are amplified when it comes to constructing and renovating our community’s schools. Particularly when work is taking place on occupied campuses, a large part of managing construction in education projects depends on teamwork, transparent and clear communications, and the implementation of significant safety measures.

In this article, we’ll explore what makes construction in education settings unique and sometimes challenging, and what can be done to overcome these concerns to successfully deliver each project.


1. Safety of Staff and Students

Safety of the students and staff on project jobsites is the ultimate priority for construction teams. Extensive planning goes into making sure protection is in place during all work activities, in addition to when the jobsite is unoccupied. Particular to education projects or those where children and youth are nearby, teams must consider and eliminate 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 (IE: 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

These measures are in addition to typical safety measures on any given jobsite. The proximity to the youth of our communities make these efforts that much more critical.

2. Planning for Traffic Flow and Logistics

All construction projects need to plan for the logistics of the site, as we discussed recently in our 9 Keys to Site Logistics in Construction article.  Construction in education projects have additional factors that come into play due to the presence of public pedestrian and vehicle traffic, as well as large numbers of children and youth.

When evaluating the logistics of an education campus, project teams should consider:

  • Traffic flow for student, staff and parent access
  • Traffic flow for construction crew members, material and equipment deliveries
  • Barricades between work and non-work zones and site security to prevent unauthorized access
  • Emergency access routes and meeting areas for the school and the construction area
  • Crane no-fly zones that prevent contact with students and staff in the event of a catastrophic equipment failure
  • Temporary office and utility locations

The foremost priority in planning for site logistics is to maximize the safety of the students and staff at the school, and secondarily, to create an efficient construction workflow.

3. Extensive Communication

When it comes to construction, there is no such thing as communicating too much or too often. When operating near public spaces, the importance of clear communication cannot be understated. All planning for workflow, work scopes, and work schedules must be communicated clearly and often.

As we discussed in a previous article about K-12 construction, there are multiple stakeholders involved not only in decision making, but also in operating these facilities. Additionally, the presence of a significant number of the general public accessing these sites means that those who aren’t in project meetings must also clearly understand construction boundaries and routing.

Communication methods will involve a variety of tools:

  • Owner, Architect, Contractor meetings, at least once weekly
  • Regular updates to school users via newsletters and townhall meetings
  • Proper site signage with clear boundaries and directions for traffic flow
  • Site tours for students and staff to provide insights into the construction process
  • Frequent social media updates
  • Frequent communication and tracking of public permit requirements

With clarity for all who access the site, project stakeholders can be informed and stay safe for the duration of the work.

4. Quality Materials

Our educational facilities are subject to extensive use by children of all ages, as well as the public, and must stand up to the high traffic they experience. This means that the materials in these buildings must be able to withstand heavy use over long periods of time, and remain safe for use over time. 

Some of the options for materials in schools may include:

Hollow-metal doors in lieu of Timely frames.
Hollow metal (HM) doors are installed during wall framing and are a single piece of steel that is difficult to damage more than superficially. As compared to door frames that can be installed after the wall is complete, HM frames are a wise choice for a long-lasting material.

Energy efficient lighting.
LED light fixtures require minimal maintenance over time, reducing the need for bulb changes by building engineers. Additionally, they’re more efficient than fluorescent fixtures, reducing energy consumption and cost.

Central system controls.
HVAC controls to allow the building to operate at a comfortable level and save energy in the process.

5. Respecting the Public’s Dollars 

School projects are primarily funded by public tax dollars.  As such, it’s imperative that the construction work is complete with cost efficiency in mind. A failure to do so betrays public trust and the dollars that all of us contribute to these projects.

A great general contractor will partner with the school district to find efficient means of completing work, being transparent with costs, and completing the appropriate amount of preconstruction planning to ensure a smooth project with minimal change orders.

Districts are also evaluating project delivery types to determine the best method to procure contractors for their work. In more recent years, many are leaning towards more collaborative project delivery models, such as the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) and even Integrated Project Deliveries. Many have found that the transparency and teamwork these methods offer lead to improved production, lower costs and more efficient schedules.

Final Thoughts

Construction in education settings is a critical service to our communities and must be carefully thought through. Here at Perlo, we enjoy finding optimal solutions to the challenges that education projects present. If you’d like to talk further with our teams about an upcoming project, contact us here.

One of the most critical tools that construction companies use for documentation includes photo and video, both throughout construction and at completion. These mediums provide clear views of the quality of the work completed as well as content for marketing materials that provides future clients visual proof of the contractor’s skill and attention to detail. To fully understand how to get the most out of construction project photography, we sat down with our expert photographer and drone videographer to discuss tips and tricks they recommend and how to maximize results to best demonstrate construction projects.

Our guests today include:

Steve Wanke of Steve Wanke Photography and Adam Simmons of Airview Cinematography.


An Overview of Photography and Video Services    

There are a variety of types of images and footage we capture to document projects:

Aerial
Taken from high up, typically with a drone or from an airplane.

In Progress
Captured during construction, often taken from the same place at certain intervals over time.

Exterior
Taken outside of the building, typically when construction is complete.

Interior
Shot inside of the building, typically when complete.

Details
Focused on the smaller details at the interior or exterior of the building.

Interactive
Onsite labor during construction or of people using the space.

In recent years, videography has become a large part of documenting construction projects. Often taken over the course of construction at a variety of intervals, videos are becoming a standard practice for documenting the entirety of a project. The flexibility of video in combination with still photography create a compelling visual story that is valuable for both owners and contractors.

Tip #1
Create a Shot List   

The first step to achieving project photos is to determine the ‘shot list’. In other words, describe to the photographer the desired list of photo locations, including rooms, exterior locations, and particular features and/or details they should capture. From the shot list, a good photographer will evaluate the angles to find the best-looking location for their images. In addition to the provided shot list, an experienced photographer will take other photos if they see a great angle or feature while they’re onsite. Following the photo shoot, the photographer will send proofs for viewing. The customer can then choose which photos they want to ultimately purchase based on the provided proofs. In the case of photos, the customer pays per photo purchased.

Tip #2
Clean Spaces Make for Better Interior Photos

The biggest trick to great interior photos is to declutter the area where photos are to take place. People tend to visualize themselves in the spaces they see in photographs or videos so it is important to remove boxes, jackets, papers or any other items that may cause the image to look cluttered. Sometimes photographers may suggest rearranging furniture or other items as another way to best capture the space. 

Ideally, the space is free of people to best capture any architectural features. However, there are exceptions. Depending on the project type, it may be ideal to include people to help capture the feeling that the space was designed to convey.  If the space is occupied by the tenant when the photo shoot is scheduled, the photographer will do their best to minimize their interruption to their work.

As Steve says, “I do my best to not interrupt their workflow. They’re trying to do their business, so I work hard to avoid being a distraction while still capturing great shots.”

Tip #3
Exterior Photos Should Look Like Grand Opening Day

Similar to decluttering for interior photos, the same applies to the exterior. The surrounding area should be free of debris, porta-potties or temporary construction materials, as well as vehicles or signage that are not important to the image or video. Another important thing to consider is weather. When asked if he takes photos in the rain, Steve says, “I’ve shot in most every type of weather. Especially in Oregon, you might have to wait 7 months to get dry days! It’s not the best, but it can work. It’s ideal to not shoot in snow and rain, but when you have a deadline, you don’t always have a choice.”

For aerial photos or video footage, however, weather can be a hindering factor. Adam states that, “Here in the Pacific Northwest, I am constantly dodging weather systems to avoid rain and higher winds. Unfortunately, the FAA doesn’t allow me to fly when there is precipitation or when visibility is less than three miles.  This comes into play for flying on the exact day requested by the project teams. It’s better to have a “window” of days in order to dodge the rain.”

Tip #4
Don’t Forget About Safety and Flight Considerations

Safety is paramount in capturing great photos and videos. If the site is active, it’s imperative that a photographer be aware of their surroundings while on an active construction site. This may mean traversing the site with another individuals who can keep an eye out while the photographer is behind the camera.

For drones, the operator must consider the airspace they plan to fly in. Public roadways, areas of high pedestrian traffic, or over the tops of neighboring structures often provide the best view of a project but are safety hazards as defined by the FAA and thus forbidden or may simply be a nuisance to the neighbors. There are also numerous occasions in which a waiver or authorization is needed to fly at a specific location or during certain times of the day. For these authorizations, the videographer must submit a request that the FAA has 90 days to respond to. Be aware that this can delay the start date for aerial footage.

Additionally, it’s critical to find a photographer and/or drone operator that is diligent in investigating the rules and safety precautions necessary to operate their equipment.

“Customers should know that drone pilots have a healthy list of regulations and safety procedures that can impact where and when we can fly,” says Adam.

Bonus Tip
How to Find a Great Project Photographer or Videographer

No matter which type of photo or video you’re after, there are a few key takeaways to make sure you’re finding the right professional for your project.

  • The top item is reviewing their portfolio of past work. Professional photographers and videographers will have a website or social media channel showcasing their work. Steve, for instance, has a portfolio of commercial photos available on his site. Adam also has examples of his aerial photography on his site

  • Another great way is to ask other contractors or architects for referrals. Reaching out to others in the industry will provide important insights into their responsiveness, turnaround time and pricing.

In terms of aerial imagery, there’s one other and perhaps tougher item to verify about your photographer. As Adam states, “There are a fair number of people without the proper certification, and even some who are card holders that will ignore safety guidelines in order to get the best looking images. Look at their work and evaluate for yourself: do they fly over streets and people? They might not be the safest pilot. Ask them about the precautions they’re taking to fly as safely as possible. Depending on the drone, it could do some serious damage.”

Final Thoughts

We’re thankful for the contributions of Steve Wanke and Adam Simmons for their expert opinions about construction photography and would happily recommend them to others for their services.

Steve Wanke
Steve Wanke Photography

www.stevewanke.com

Adam Simmons
Airview Cinematography

www.airview.us

Continuing with our series on Women in Construction, this week we’re talking with Perlo’s Controller, Debra Cobun. A great asset to us since 2005, Debra works in our accounting department as our Controller and was one of our recent Employee Spotlight recipients. We’re learning more about her career, what she’s learned about the industry and the advice she has for others who might be interested in pursuing a career in construction accounting.


Tell us about what your current role is, and what that means for the company?

In a nutshell, my position as Controller is part of the checks and balances of accounting that prevents fraud, whether internal or external. I’m essentially financial support for the company. I look for accounting errors, review invoices, manage cash flow, review sales tax, profit sharing and things like that. I also look for process improvement strategies.

With all of the financial processes that a construction company has, you really need two people to oversee accounting, so we also have a Director of Finance here. I supervise and manage the accounting department, and handle day-to-day operations, answer questions and help solve any issues that come up. To be a controller, you need to have an accounting degree because you have to do ledger adjustments and complete inter-company transactions and that kind of thing. While there’s a lot of on-the-job training, my position is a lot of very traditional accounting work, too.

What do you think the most interesting thing about construction accounting is?

It’s different. For instance, in manufacturing accounting you account for raw goods, work-in-process and then finished product.  But in construction the work in process part of accounting is really different than accounting for other businesses because the work is so complex and takes so long. The government/IRS determines how a company recognizes revenue, so that guides some of how we operate. To learn this type of accounting, you really need on-the-job training for the work-in-progress schedule of construction; they don’t teach it to you in school. It’s ideal to start by learning the basics and then working your way up through all of the different processes before you get to my level so that you really understand the ins and outs of how numbers work in construction.

It’s also fun watching buildings be built through numbers.  You can tell where the building is at based on what invoices are coming through the door. For instance, when I see batches of concrete invoices come in, I know they’re pouring the slab, and when the next batch comes through, it’s the walls. And we often go out and visit the sites, so we get to see the action, too.  

What led you to the construction industry?

I essentially got started right after college. I briefly had a job in accounting for a restaurant/hospitality company and then moved to construction with a materials supplier. They supplied bricks to construction projects, including some really famous projects. I was living in Klamath Falls, Oregon, at the time. Then my husband relocated for his job, so I moved up here and started interviewing for accounting jobs where I found an electrical contractor to work for.

At the electrical company, I worked my way up to Controller and held that job for more than a dozen years. I moved over to Perlo in 2005 to take over the controller role when the current person was retiring from that position. So, I guess I kind of ‘fell’ into construction. It wasn’t really intentional, but it’s been fun and an interesting way to work in accounting. 

Do you have any favorite stories or memories you can share from your career?

I enjoy the culture and team building events. At a past company, we built floats for parades each year.  That was really fun.  We’d also go sturgeon and salmon fishing and do things like that.  I like those kinds of team building events, and we’ve done things at Perlo like having a bowling team, among other things.  

One of my favorite career events was when I became President of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), and we traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for leadership training. They had really great leadership exercises, plus visiting the area as a tourist was great. We did scavenger hunts around the area, visited museums and it was fun. It was a neat opportunity and a beautiful place. We even got stuck in a traffic jam because of buffalo crossing the road!

What changes have you seen in construction accounting over the course of your career?

Personal computers were just coming around when I began in the industry. My first accounting job was on a pegboard system. We posted the general ledger by hand, did payroll by hand.  We had books to look up payroll taxes instead of checking online. Technology has come a long way since then. You know, I lived through the age of dial up internet, too. Aside from technology, there’s a lot more regulation, especially after the ENRON scandal at the end of the 90’s. We now have Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance, where IT systems and accounting are now audited. Accounting has always been audited, but it’s more extensive with the regulations that were enacted to prevent fraudulent financial reporting from occurring.  

What changes have you seen in the general construction industry over the course of your career?

Similar to the changes in accounting, there’s been a lot of technology upgrades and increased regulation of the industry as a whole. Safety practices have increased significantly.  When I worked in manufacturing, safety wasn’t really a priority. The industry is starting to diversify a bit, although some groups might still feel a bit excluded. I know when I started in electrical work the industry was almost exclusively white males, at least here in the Northwest, and that’s changed. There seems to be more sophistication, now, too. When I was young, around 24-25 years old, harassment was pretty normal. It was normal to get calls from older men that said ‘Oh honey, let me take you to lunch,’ and they’d be married! I think there’s much less of that. It was normalized then, and you had to put up with a lot. It made you stronger to deal with it, but it’s far less common, now. There’s still a few unsavory characters out there, but not like it used to be.

My view has changed a bit now that I’m kind of at the ‘top’ of my career and I need to be training and mentoring those below me instead of trying to ‘compete’ to be at the top. I think you have to make your own mistakes, but I try to prevent those below me from making the same ones I did.

What do you see for the future of the construction industry?

I think technology is going to continue to improve. I imagine we well see a lot more building with things like 3-D printers, for instance, to make parts and things. I also think sustainability will be a bigger focus. As we have materials shortages, we’ll probably need to find more local suppliers and more sustainable sources to utilize, too. Prefabrication may become more common, which a lot of the sub trades have been doing for quite some time, but I’m guessing it will become even more commonplace.

Do you see women advancing in the industry? Why or why not?

I think so. There’s been a lot of progress. We need more, though. Women presidents still aren’t common unless they’re minority owned companies. But it’s coming.  

What advice do you have for people who may be interested in accounting in the construction industry?

Get your Certified Public Accounting (CPA) certification. If you’re already in accounting, join CFMA. They host specialized construction training, have discussions about financial issues specific to construction, things like that. I’d also say to learn all you can. Learn every aspect of the job, from the ground up. It makes it easier to supervise others and understand every aspect of the work to help coach those below you.

What are you most proud of in your career?

That I worked my way up. It means I have learned a lot and done a good job.  Others could see that I could be a controller, including my peers. In the old days, controllers often weren’t great with people, and I wanted to get along. If you want to know about good industry changes, you can no longer be snarky to people and be a controller or else people won’t tell you things that they should. Be firm, but nice. This position is not just about technical skills, it’s also about people skills. So, don’t forget that part when you’re learning.

What kind of culture shift have you seen at Perlo?

It used to be super conservative and risk averse here.  We were always ‘safe’.  Now it seems like nothing is out of reach.  We can take risks and try new things. We’ve diversified our market sectors, including doing prevailing wage work, now, which is a big shift for accounting. Additionally, we’re a much more outgoing group. We try to have social interactions and make it a fun place to work. The activities and culture building that we do includes all departments where it used to feel like the PM’s were sort of more privileged. Other departments feel more valued now.

 Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Everyone has made mistakes and ‘been’ there. And that’s ok. It’s important to learn from those mistakes, remember them and don’t repeat them. Some people want to do it all…but at some point, don’t try to do everything because you won’t be able to master it all. Do one or two things well, pick a direction and then be the best at those areas.  And make sure you enjoy them so you can excel over time.

Final Thoughts

Many thanks to Debra for sharing her thoughts with us today! If you’d like to find out more about employment opportunities at Perlo, check out our Careers page now.

Site Logistics: The sequencing and movement, including procurement, inventory management, stationing of resources and the routing of people, on construction sites.

Efficient and clear construction site logistics planning is critical to maintaining safety, productivity and schedules and is the foundation for a successful building project. Creating these plans, implementing them and being flexible over time for changes is a skill that requires practice and reflection to master and improve upon over time. After discussions with several of our team members, including veteran superintendents, we have developed a list of the 9 most critical items to consider when planning for site logistics.


1. Know the physical environment of the area

Familiarity with the local environment is critical for site logistics planning, including the time of year that construction is intended for. Building in wet weather, hot weather, sensitive wetlands or other locations all make a difference. These conditions will influence a variety of factors, including:

  • Erosion control measures
  • Dewatering plans
  • Materials used for haul roads
  • Utilization of cement treating
  • Dust control needs

Weather concerns will also influence staging for break areas for workers. In the summer, this means shade or air-conditioned spaces, while in the winter it may mean heated break areas or erecting wind breaks. Additionally, specific environmental protections for local wildlife or environments must be taken into account. Protection measures and awareness of these areas are all crucial to maintain during construction work.

2. Consider the physical site

One of the first items to consider when planning site logistics is to look at the actual site. There are a variety of factors to consider:

  • Are there existing land elements that must be modified prior to beginning, such as:
    • Significant cut and fill
    • Rock blasting
    • Retaining walls
    • Temporary haul roads or permanent driveway access
  • How is the site going to be accessed? Will it be via temporary or permanent access?
  • Is there a single building or multiple buildings, and when will each one start or finish?
  • Where will hardscaping vs. soft scaping be located at the end of the work?   

In additional to physical constraints, the size of the site makes a big difference in planning. For instance, urban jobsites or significantly constrained sites may not have any room for materials storage, crew parking or temporary staging. Larger sites, such as the Tualatin Sherwood Corporate Park currently underway, has a large site, but multiple buildings, public access road construction, retaining walls and even an active rock crushing operation onsite.

Whether large or small, the site must be considered first when looking at logistics plans.

3. Understand jurisdictional constraints

The local jurisdiction can have a heavy influence on the logistics planning for a given site. They may have rules and regulations related to:

  • Stormwater management
  • Noise, dust or vibration management requirements
  • Public road restrictions, such as weight limits, height limits, etc.
  • Overhead restrictions due to powerlines or airspace/crane height restrictions
  • Road or sidewalk closure permit requirements or restrictions

Some examples of tricky regulations have included weight restrictions on public roads. A recent example is on one of our sites where we were allowed to have full loads of concrete delivered for the main building pours, but any following pours were limited to 8 yards or less.  

Other examples include noise restrictions, particularly when near residential housing zones. Many residential areas have noise restrictions that don’t allow for construction noise to take place before 7am or after 10am. This can make some activities difficult to schedule, particularly during summer months when activities like concrete pours are best completed at night.

4. Plan for traffic flow

The next element in planning effectively for site logistics is to look at traffic flow. A good team must know the volume of vehicles, equipment and people that will need to move across the site. Traffic flow considerations include:

  • Entrance and exits
  • One-way routing or two-way traffic flows
  • Pedestrian crossing areas
  • Entrance gate location(s), and whether they’re different for the public vs. construction traffic
  • Location of wheel wash stations
  • Parking areas for crew parking

Clear traffic pathways help maintain safety and keep vehicular traffic out of construction areas.

5. Identify areas for material storage

Materials storage areas will be necessary, but their location will be dependent on the size of the site, the traffic flow and materials required. With tight sites, this may mean storing materials elsewhere, either nearby or in an offsite warehouse. It may also mean creating specific areas for materials to be stored on the site, typically with added security.

Critical considerations include:

  • Physical size required to fit materials
  • Weather protection required
  • Accessibility of people and/or large equipment for distribution to the site
  • Security to deter theft

Optimally, the goal for materials storage includes finding a secure location that can remain in the same place for the duration of construction and is conveniently placed to be as close to the areas where the materials are needed as possible.

While just-in-time delivery used to be the optimal goal in coordinating materials for jobsites, in more recent and increasingly tumultuous times, this strategy has been largely abandoned in favor of early supply acquisition and storage. Unfortunately, this is often the only way to ensure that the materials necessary for the project will arrive before they’re needed. This increases the amount of materials storage that any given jobsite may need, which in turn increases the need for materials lay down or offsite storage locations.

6. Plan for building access

To construct a building, the crews and equipment onsite must be able to efficiently reach the building area. This means that the traffic flow, materials storage, and temporary facilities can’t conflict with the areas of work. In certain circumstances, this isn’t possible, which forces the building teams to create a phased approach to site logistics and building construction where staged areas move to accommodate the flow of the construction phases.

Items that must be considered when planning for building access include:

  • Proximity to crew parking areas to reduce travel path
  • Access roads for equipment, such as aerial lifts and cranes
  • Ground preparation required for temporary access

The goal in planning for building access is to make the time and cost required for accessing each area of work as efficient as possible.

7. Understand site security needs

Unfortunately, theft on construction sites is all too common with up to $1billion in equipment and supplies stolen each year. This leads to higher costs and delays for all contractors and their clients. To prevent thefts, a variety of techniques are used when planning for each site:

  • Security cameras with motion sensors
  • Site fencing
  • Use of Conex boxes for secure tool storage
  • Staging equipment to block gate access
  • Removing keys and batteries out of equipment
  • Lifting generators and other expensive equipment with cranes
  • Hiring site security to regularly patrol the area

Even with extensive security measures, not all theft can be prevented. Each time a site is burglarized, project teams evaluate what occurred and use that information to prevent similar events in the future.

8. Plan for crew relief areas and site offices

Buildings cannot be constructed without people, so it’s critical that break areas are set up and accessible to crew members. These include:

  • Site office, with ample meeting space
  • Break areas with clean water and possibly small appliances for meal prep
  • Hand washing stations
  • Portable restrooms
  • Shade locations
  • Emergency meeting areas in the event of natural disaster or accidents

It’s important that the onsite crews are provided with appropriate accommodations, particularly when inclement weather is possible. Keeping workers safe and healthy is a high priority for Perlo and the industry as a whole.

9. Remain flexible

The final piece of the site logistics puzzle is to always remain flexible for changes. Even the best laid plans typically need to be adjusted along the way when new information presents itself. If there’s a better way to proceed with your work, don’t be afraid to have that conversation and make adjustments as needed.

Final Thoughts

Site logistics is a complex and important piece of efficient building construction. It’s critical that planning for the site is a team effort with extensive communication and an open mind for learning and improvement.

Constructing wineries and tasting rooms is both an art and a science.  It requires expertise, finesse and creativity to properly construct. These businesses tend to be very unique, with high-end finishes, specialty construction methods, and most distinctly, personal touches that bring every unique story and experience to life.

Commercial construction projects can be completed for a variety of client types, often developers or investment groups. In the case of wineries, however, clients are commonly privately held business owners who live their passion day in and day out. Their buildings may be the first business they have ever had constructed, or a renovation or expansion of a family business passed down from generation to generation.

Finding a great building partner for these spaces means looking for a team that knows how unique these buildings are, is familiar with the details that go into winery construction, is willing to listen to the wants and needs of the owner and is diligent in maintaining timelines and budgets. 

Read on to learn more about what makes winery construction challenging and rewarding, including common systems, details and features.


The Foundations of Wineries

Wineries are built on the passion to perfect the craft of winemaking and provide a high quality finished product to be enjoyed. More literally, though, wineries are usually constructed in rural locations and on rough, hilly terrain, which requires unique foundation systems to create structurally sound buildings.

When structures are built onto or into a hillside, the excavation work can be extensive. Wineries may be multiple floors (gravity flow) that cascade over the side of a hill. Concrete foundations with continuous footings, stem walls, and retaining walls are all a regular occurrence but require extra coordination with the elevation steps and high-end finishes expected of exposed concrete.

Sloped concrete slabs containing drainage or process wastewater related systems often make up the floor surface in production areas. Special attention needs to be paid to floor finish to avoid slippery floors or floors too rough and therefore hard to clean. Tasting rooms or entertainment spaces may include stained or stamped concrete, in addition to other flooring types.

The Structure of Wineries

There are several building types used in winery construction, sometimes depending on the use of the building, and sometimes because of cost constraints. The building types include:

  • Pre-engineered metal buildings
  • Wood framed
  • Poured-in-place concrete
  • Heavy timber
  • Tilt-up concrete

These buildings may be single story or multi-story and contain a variety of utility systems.  The structure may be dependent on how the winery produces its wine and any other uses of the finished space (hosting events, barrel storage, etc.) Some locations use gravity flow systems that requires multiple levels of production space.

Winery facilities may include a single building or multiple buildings. For instance, Perlo has completed multiple buildings for Stoller Family Estate in Dundee, Oregon, and their campus program includes a winery production building, a warehouse with bottling lines, and an experience center tasting room for conferences and events, among others. The building use contributes to the type of structure that is utilized, with owner preferences, budget and time all considered in the building type equation.

Sophisticated Finishes in Wineries

The finishes utilized in winery and tasting room construction are highly dependent on the style of winemaking and the experience that the owners want guests to have. Some spaces are more modern and sophisticated, some more rustic, some more open to the outdoors or a view. Some unique finishes might include:

  • Stained or stamped concrete
  • Specialty lighting
  • Tile floors
  • Custom casework, including casework railings or window casings
  • Glass overhead doors or walls
  • Stainless steel
  • Unique artwork and/or logos and signage
  • Exposed wood trusses
  • Custom fireplaces
  • Kitchens & catering spaces

In addition to the craftsmanship for these types of finishes, it’s critical to consider the order of installation and protection of these finishes over the course of construction. Extensive planning, review of shop drawings, and caution while installing and completing work are all key components to successfully delivering projects with these types of unique details in them.

Specialty Utilities and Production Systems

The rural location of many wineries and tasting rooms poses unique challenges related to building utilities. As we have discussed previously related to rural construction challenges, rural properties may need to have a well for domestic water, propane tanks for gas appliances or equipment, septic systems, process waste water systems, fire water pump water supply ponds or tanks, and may need to pay additional fees to get power and internet to the property. These details and requirements must be determined before construction can begin.

In addition to basic utility systems, winery production processes can be extensive, with stainless steel tanks, grape crushing and sorting equipment, scales, and water treatment tanks. Storage areas may include climate-controlled night air cooling systems or refrigeration.

Sustainability is also a common practice in wineries.  Solar power, water recycling, green roofs, and electric vehicle charging stations may all be found in winery projects.    

The coordination of utilities, specialty systems and production equipment is a large component of winery construction projects. Involving a design and construction team early in the preconstruction process is key to ensuring these systems are installed correctly and without delay.

Making it Personal

Building a winery is a personal process for the owners, for the winemakers (who may be the same or different individuals), and eventually for the patrons of the wineries. Building teams work closely with these decision makers to determine the designs, finishes and experience in these locations.

Decision makers care deeply about not just the function of these winery spaces, but also the aesthetic. They are often intimately involved with every detail, much like a homeowner might be when building their own home. They are involved in every detail, from the finishes to the equipment layout, and often make changes to various features over the course of the building process. It takes a skilled contractor to listen critically, help them evaluate their options, and implement changes as they come up.

The relationships between the decision makers and the contractor must be one built on trust and teamwork. The builder must listen carefully to the wants and needs of the building owner and users, and guide the decisions made to best meet their needs.

Final Thoughts

The parts and pieces of a winery make them unique and fun to build. We enjoy working with individuals who are as passionate about the wine they produce and the experience they deliver as we are with the buildings we construct.

If you’re considering constructing or renovating a winery, contact our team today.

General contractors the world over partner with subcontractors – trade partners that perform certain work scopes for a given jobsite. For the purposes of today’s article, we will include materials suppliers in the same category, as we depend on our materials suppliers and subcontractors to complete our work. The value of excellent trade partners cannot be overstated. They contribute their labor, expertise, technology, ideas and enthusiasm to the construction industry as a whole, and commercial construction projects cannot be completed without them.

Today we will dive deeper into the role that subcontractors play, as well what the relationship looks like between general contractors and subcontractors.


Contractual Arrangements with Subcontractors

At a foundational level, the agreement between a general contractor (GC) and a subcontractor is a contractual one.  Similar to the way an owner hires Perlo to complete their work, subcontractors are engaged to complete portions of work, with contractual agreements to lay out the terms and conditions.

A single commercial construction project may have very few, or up to hundreds of trade partner agreements in place. Subcontractors may also have their own contractual arrangements with lower-tier subcontractors and suppliers. For instance, a mechanical contractor that completes heating and cooling work may have a contractual arrangement with a sheet metal fabrication shop to produce their ductwork. Perlo’s contract would be with the mechanical contractor, and that entity would have a separate agreement with their ductwork supplier.

The terms for subcontract agreements will differ from GC to GC, and from project to project. Both parties must agree to these terms for each individual project. Agreements will cover a variety of items, including but not limited to:

  • Scope of work
  • Price for the work
  • Insurance requirements
  • Payment terms
  • Owner terms and conditions
  • Schedule of work
  • Indemnification
  • Clarifications
  • Claims procedures

These agreements are important to set expectations and clarify which party is completing what element of work. These must be in place before the contractor is onsite.

Subcontractor Expertise

While a GC needs to know the overall scope of each project and verify that quality is being delivered, the individual subcontractors are truly the experts in their trades. Their craft workers are specially trained to complete their work and are equipped with all of the specialty tools they need.

Subcontractors can provide valuable assistance in both the preconstruction and construction phases of work, as well as with future maintenance needs. Additionally, these trade partners help to identify the lead times that may be involved in procuring equipment and materials to complete the work. In today’s volatile climate, this is particularly important, as delays in production and shipping are making deadlines challenging to meet. In addition to completing the work, many subcontractors also have design teams on staff and complete the engineering plans and specifications for systems like HVAC, plumbing, electrical and fire protection.  

Like a general contractor, subcontractors must be licensed with the Construction Contractors Board (CCB) as well as the Secretary of State. Specialty licensing to allow for engineering, as well as insurance and bonding must be in place for a subcontractor to legally complete their work. Finally, trade partners must be experts in the necessary safety protocols for completing their own work. While the GC is responsible for the overall site, subcontractors are responsible for the safety of their own crews and must educate their workers on safe work practices.

Subcontractor Recruitment and Retention

To provide crews and craft workers for hundreds of projects each year, GC’s must work hard to know all of the subcontractors in the area and partner with them to bring projects to completion. A single GC may work with hundreds or even thousands of trade partners in a single year. When projects are in the preconstruction phase, effort is made to inform subcontractors of upcoming bid opportunities.

Some of the methods used to notify them include:

  • Direct email communications, typically through the use of software programs like Building Connected or others made for this purpose
  • Advertisements in local trade journals (i.e. Daily Journal of Commerce) and at the local plan centers
  • Notifications to minority group partners, such as:
    • NAMC – National Association of Minority Contractors
    • OAME – Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs

Relationships between GC’s and subcontractors must be mutually beneficial to encourage a continuation of the relationship over the course of many projects and time. This means that both parties must endeavor to:

  • Clearly communicate expectations and needs
  • Provide equipment and materials on time
  • Complete work safely
  • Submit invoices and complete payments in a timely manner
  • Work to find mutually beneficial solutions when challenges arise

Projects run smoothly when all parties are working together as a team. When communication is clear, deadlines are met, and discussions lead to continuous improvement and mutually beneficial solutions, the relationship between a GC and subcontractors will remain strong.

Planning and Building Construction Projects Together

There are many keys to making working relationships between GC’s and subcontractors work well. It starts with both parties communicating their expectations and capabilities with each other. A general contractor will review and consider several facets when determining which subcontractor should be awarded any one scope:

  • Price
  • Crew member availability
  • Supplier relationships
  • Financial health
  • Available technology
  • Ability to complete the work by the schedule deadline

It’s important that the right team members be chosen for each project. For example, if a drywall scope is worth approximately $1million, it wouldn’t be wise to hire a subcontractor that only completes $1million in volume in a single year. It’s dangerous for any vendor to have all their ‘eggs’ in one basket, which would be required with such a large project size.

Like we discussed in the Challenges of Auto Dealership Construction, some buildings require a much higher level of finish quality, and not all vendors are set up to provide that high level of finish. Instead, it’s best to match skillsets with the level of sophistication that the job requires.

Sometimes it may be beneficial to hire more than one company per trade to accommodate schedule needs or to combine expertise on complex projects. For instance, public education projects must often be completed during the summer break and have a firm deadline to complete prior to students returning to school. It’s possible to hire two separate roofing contractors to split up the work to ensure that crews can be robust enough to finish on time. Two companies may be needed to achieve a large enough crew size to meet the schedule demands, where one company would not have the depth to achieve this on their own.

Final Thoughts

We find significant value in ensuring that our trade partners are treated fairly and supported so that the entire building process is beneficial for them, our clients, our company and our communities.

If you would like to work with Perlo on future projects, please visit our Bid Opportunities page to learn more about upcoming bid opportunities, as well as our pre-qualification process.

Construction management, in addition to a job that requires expertise in building, also hinges on one critical element: documentation. Every piece of our business requires documentation, from accounting to fleet management, contracts and building documents. Clear documentation clarifies expectations, establishes official agreements, records building elements, protects all parties involved in the building process, and most importantly, ensures the client is satisfied with the end product.

Documentation is so critical that we even have a saying about it: If it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done. In other words, if you can’t prove that something happened ‘on paper,’ there’s no way to prove that it happened at all. No one ever wants to be in a difficult situation, so it’s important to understand the many facets of documentation and why each piece is necessary.


Building Plans, Specifications and As-Builts

A main component in construction documentation are the building plans and specifications that are drawn up by design teams. These outline the dimensions, details, materials to be used, structural components and more. They serve the purpose of directing not only how the building should be built, but as a record of what was constructed in the form of as-built documents post-construction.

Building documents are drawn by architects and engineers, with specifications that accompany the drawings to include minute details such as caulking types, grout, paint colors and more. The intent of these documents is to capture every component of the building and all associated landscaping, excavation, structural and architectural elements, and building systems like electrical, mechanical, plumbing and fire protection systems.

When documents are distributed to contractors, they help review them with a different lens for constructability and to fill in any details that may be missing. Contractors use Requests for Information (RFI’s) to submit questions to clarify any missing details they may find. These RFI’s serve as a virtual paper trail to document these questions and confirm changes that may be made. Finally, these documents serve as a record of the building. Any changes that take place during construction are detailed in a final record set, which is filed by the contractor, design teams and owner for future reference.

Project Management Documentation

Successful project management teams understand the ins and outs of construction, and they know that a lot is at stake for clients, which is why it is critical to track a variety of items to note progress, and accurately depict details of the work. Some of the items tracked include:

  • Subcontractor and owner contracts
  • Project schedules
  • Submittals, including due dates, date received, date reviewed, date sent and returned from the design teams, and distributed back to the original submitter
  • Permits and inspections
  • RFI’s
  • Change proposals
  • Change orders
  • All communications with owners, vendors, the local jurisdiction and the project team
  • Weekly Owner/Architect/Contractor meetings
  • Equipment rental logs
  • Weather or other work delays

These items aren’t all encompassing but cover many of the items of documentation that must be retained and maintained by the project teams. Equally as important, verbal conversations should be followed by written correspondence to the involved parties to confirm what was discussed. As previously noted, ‘if it’s not documented, it’s not done,’ and all parties involved want to make sure projects are done to the client’s expectations and standards.

Job Costing and Accounting Documentation

Being fiscally responsible is always part of the conversation, and why tracking expenses of the work is so critical to project success. This task involves the project management teams, as well as accounting teams. Every cost in construction is allocated to phases, so that each can be accounted for on every item of the building. With this method, a contractor or owner could see what the footings cost, or the concrete curbs and sidewalks, the walls, roof structure or any other building component. The process to capture all these costs requires a systematic approach. When items are purchased, they’re recorded in a contract or purchase order. When invoices are sent in, they are matched up with the contract or purchase order and assigned to the appropriate project and phase.

In addition to materials, all labor activities must be tracked and accounted for in phases. Payroll tracking is the key to making sure labor hours are appropriately allocated. Along with standard invoices and payments to vendors and staff, accounting departments track lien waivers and lien releases, file those with the appropriate projects and provide this documentation with requests for payments. All conversations are also kept as a record of any discussions relating to payment.

Other types of accounting documentation include:

  • Sales tax tracking
  • Employee tax documents
  • Retirement plans and pre-tax deferrals, or garnishments
  • Audit reports
  • And more

Documents must be maintained for many years and are auditable by project owners, depending on the project contracts. Additionally, most construction companies voluntarily complete annual audits to verify financial health.

Information Technology in Construction

A good Information Technology (IT) department can make or break a construction company’s ability to properly complete their work, securely store information, and quickly access documents. From software utilization to communications, security from computer viruses and data storage, the role of IT is essential. IT services may include a variety of tasks, including:

  • Asset tracking for inventory purposes, as well as for tracking in the event of damage or theft.
  • Data storage for back up documentation.
  • Multi-factor authentication systems for access to company systems.
  • Storage of all email documentation company wide.
  • Encrypting of all data transferred in and out of the company, particularly to protect banking information of clients, trade partners and employees.

The world of technology is always changing, with new software programs, threats from phishing or malware attacks, and an ever-increasing pace of business. IT departments in construction are always on their toes.

Documenting Safety in Construction

A large part of construction work is maintaining a safe workplace, which requires extensive planning, implementation, and documentation. When companies have any number of employees, maintaining records of new-hire orientation, safety training, disciplinary discussions and/or actions and site safety plans are all important. When using equipment onsite, another safety component includes equipment pre-use inspection reports and maintenance records. Not only do the pre-inspections provide an opportunity to repair systems that may be faulty before putting that item into use, but they also provide backup documentation in the event of a mechanical failure, incident or injury. Safety documentation is required to track safety metrics as a company, but also for OSHA inspections and record-keeping.  In the event of a workplace injury or incident, these documents can help determine whether a contractor was negligent in their duty to keep employees safe.

Two more common safety items that are, in part, documentation, include site logistics and site signage. Extensive planning goes into site logistics, with traffic routes, temporary utilities, fencing and barriers, safety and shade stations, emergency gathering areas all laid out in these plans and distributed to everyone with site access. These logistics strategies include planning for site signage, with directional signage, ‘no trespassing’ signs, contact information, PPE and COVID notifications, among other items. It’s critical that jobsite be clear for workers and visitors in order to keep everyone safe. 

Licensing, Bonding, and Insurance

Construction companies have a significant number or licenses to track and maintain, as well as bonding and insurance requirements. These items must be tracked for the general contractor as well as any lower-tier subcontractors and suppliers. Having proper licensing and insurance in place for every company working in construction protects all parties – the trades, the general contractor, the owner, the public, and sometimes even the local jurisdiction.

Common licenses include:

  • CCB licenses
  • Business licenses for the state, city and/or county
  • Vehicle licenses

Maintaining insurance is a complex but important part of contracting, with a variety of insurance types carried by contractors in different capacities. These may include:

  • Liability insurance
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Pollution liability insurance
  • Builders risk insurance

The insurance limits are often different for each project, making the challenge of maintaining proper insurance a daunting but important task to track, implement and maintain.

Crew Scheduling and Human Resources Documentation

The last documentation item that we will cover includes crew scheduling and human resources (HR) documentation. The nature of construction is that crews change their work locations on a regular basis, perhaps changing states where wage rates or tax structures differ from site to site.

Several strategies must be employed to track these changes, from ensuring that jobsites are properly staffed, to making sure their pay is accurate.

In addition to payroll and location tracking, employee start dates, end dates, drug testing, and performance metrics, as well as training must be monitored. These documents are particularly important in the event of a dispute due to termination, or an accident onsite.

Final Thoughts

Documentation in construction is extensive and has significant repercussions in the event of a dispute, accident or employee issue, or even in the midst of changing laws and regulations. The quantity and complexity of this information takes a large amount of work and coordination to track accurately and completely, but is necessary for the protection of the company, it’s employees, trade partners and clients.

Commercial construction comes with inherent challenges, but each industry has their own specific items that tend to crop up during planning and building. Auto dealership construction is common at Perlo, with both new construction and renovations a part of our building portfolio.

The construction of auto dealerships often involves high-end finishes, unique details, and a mix of retail, service and office spaces, resulting in a finished project that shows off the talents of a variety of craftspeople. More importantly, an excellent customer experience that ultimately sells vehicles, brings in revenue for the dealer, and builds brand loyalty with the customer to keep them coming back time and time again.

Auto dealerships are directed to complete construction according to their associated manufacturers. Like most corporations, they must keep current with the brand standards or risk losing their ability to sell for that brand. This means that in addition to the original building construction, dealerships are required to remodel at certain intervals to keep their branding up to date. 

Today, we’ll share our first-hand experiences with the challenges that dealers face when renovating and/or building auto dealerships in the Pacific Northwest.


Finding the Right Builder

In commercial construction, ownership varies from individuals to large corporations, or professional development companies with each of these entity types managing the process of building differently. In our experience, most auto dealerships are privately owned and because of that, the journey is very personal. Private owners generally like to be very hands-on, and look to their general contractor to walk them through the entire building process, reinforcing the importance of finding a reputable building contractor.

With great team members on board, including the general contractor managing the project, owners can be walked through all the phases of their work, including:

Preconstruction

Construction Management

  • Safety
  • Temporary protection
  • Stormwater management
  • Subcontractor and materials procurement
  • Building construction management
  • Inspection coordination & permit management

Closeout

  • Complete documentation and as-builts
  • Warranty repairs
  • Permit closeout

The right general contractor will make the process feel easy, minimizing owner decisions, coordinating all parties and clarifying expectations for the owner.

Requirements From Auto Manufacturers Conflict with Local Codes

As previously mentioned, the auto manufacturers have brand standards that must be followed in constructing or renovating dealerships. The manufacturers create design standards that must apply to all dealerships across the United States for brand consistency. While some exceptions can be made to accommodate local ordinances, the process to achieve permission to deviate can be long.

Some examples of auto dealership construction challenges that we have experienced include:

Brand Requirement

Manufacturer’s requirements to include large storefront systems for showrooms.

Manufacturers dictate a certain number of vehicles be present on the lot.

Brand colors must be included in finishes

Local jurisdictions include requirements for landscaping, often with trees and other vegetation.

Most auto dealerships want to use as much of their real estate for parking their vehicles.

Challenge

Local energy efficiency requirements for the building code didn’t allow for the large glass areas.

Local ordinances don’t allow for merchandise to be visible to the public unless behind a storefront.

Local ordinances only allow for certain color schemes on the exterior of buildings.

Auto dealers don’t want leaves falling on cars that are for sale, or for public views to be blocked.

Local codes often require detention ponds to manage stormwater runoff, which may take up valuable car parking space. While there are other options to contain stormwater, such as underground detention chambers, local jurisdictions prefer above-ground ponds.

These items can sometimes be negotiated with the jurisdiction, but often they require negotiating with the manufacturers to receive a variance to their design. A good architect and contracting firm can help navigate these challenges, particularly when they’re brought onto the team very early in the schematic design phase.

High-end Finishes for Auto Dealerships

Auto dealerships often include many premier finishes to wow their customers, sometimes as complex and sophisticated as the nicest hotels or office spaces.

Common finishes include:

  • Tile flooring with epoxy grout
  • Epoxy coatings
  • Level 5 smooth drywall, sometimes curved or sloped
  • Large glass window systems
  • Metal cladding at the exterior
  • Espresso stations with customer lounge areas
  • Solid surface countertops and custom casework
  • Phone and computer charging stations
  • Specialty wall art and/or décor

In order to complete the installation of these specialty finishes, contractors must engage early in the design and preconstruction process to procure materials and subcontractors that are capable of this type of finish work. There are certain suppliers and subcontractors that specialize in high-end finishes of this nature. Bringing those trade partners in very quickly following the procurement of a general contractor can help to identify lead time or constructability issues that may exist so that optimal solutions can be identified. 

In addition to finding the right team members for these projects, it’s also critical that the general contractor have experience with scheduling this kind of work and protecting the finished product while multiple trades are onsite.

Occupied Sites, Safety and Logistics Concerns in Auto Dealership Construction

Many auto dealerships are remodels of existing properties that are already fully functioning and open to the public. A large part of our job is to ensure that the dealership can remain open for business and safe to its patrons. Therefore, site logistics and planning for safety are crucial in the planning of the work.

Our teams spend a considerable amount of time looking at a variety of facets for logistical concerns:

Foot and Auto Traffic Routing

  • Ingress and egress for both pedestrians and vehicles must be maintained for the duration of construction.
  • Clear signage to direct the traffic flow that is clean, professional and clear for visitors must be installed.

Construction Office and Temp Operation Areas

  • Depending on the size and scope of the work, the construction teams will want a mobile office space to direct the work.
  • If the operating office and reception areas are to be remodeled, the owner may choose to move a mobile office space onsite for employees and customers.

Site Safety

  • Particular care must be given to provide barricades to separate construction from the public.
  • Construction crews must contain noise, dust and debris.

Safety is part of the planning process as well as an ongoing discussion with all team members for the duration of the work. This includes daily site huddles, site walks by our supervision and safety teams at regular intervals, and communication of all safety planning to the onsite employees and ownership teams.     

Ongoing Maintenance & Building Element Changes

In addition to new construction or significant remodels, auto dealerships need to engage in regular maintenance of their buildings. Like all commercial buildings, tasks such as roof maintenance, parking lot cleaning, re-painting, caulking, overhead door maintenance and routine mechanical, electrical and plumbing work should be a regular part of building maintenance.

Additionally, ongoing repairs due to public access may need to take place. With significant vehicular traffic, it’s common that the buildings are damaged due to impacts from vehicles. To prevent building damage, the design and construction teams will strategically place bollards or other features like curbs to protect the structure from the impact.

Owners may also find that some elements of the building must change over time. Adding vestibules, auto delivery areas, expanding service areas or adding electric vehicle charging stations may all be components that are added post-construction.

A good construction team understands the life cycle of a building and can help with larger construction needs, but also the ongoing maintenance and building adjustments that a dealership may need. Learn more about our Special Projects Group and their dedication to the maintenance and repairs of all existing commercial buildings.

Final Thoughts

Auto dealership construction is unique and while there are inherent challenges, constructing dealerships is rewarding in that the finished product is pleasing to the eye and a proud space for their owners.

If you’re considering work on your auto dealership, please contact our team today.

Here at Perlo we have a tradition of hiring multiple interns each summer to work with us and explore our business. Our 2020 class learned many lessons, and we expect our 2021 class will learn just as many. We sat down with our nine interns to learn about how their summer has been going, what they’re learning, the learning lessons they’re taking from it and what the future might hold for them.

Join us as we learn more about their journeys!


NATE JACOBS

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management

Graduating Class
2024

Nate was exposed to construction in his youth, with both his Dad and Step-Dad involved in the industry – one on the residential side and one on the commercial side.  Additionally, he knows that the Construction Engineering Management program at Oregon State University is the best on the West Coast for construction education. He says his interest in construction ‘was natural’, and his time here at Perlo has confirmed that to be true.

Working both in our office on the preconstruction side, as well as in the field, Nate says he’s looking forward to finishing his degree program and wants to pursue a position that will have him working onsite. He enjoys the more hands-on supervisory roles that let him see the literal brick and mortar building process.

When we asked Nate what he has learned so far, he says:

“I’ve been in the office and learned about setting up the jobs before people are onsite.  Then I went onsite and learned about what goes into scheduling subcontractors, making sure work is overlapping to get as much done as possible in the least amount of time. I’ve also learned how to problem solve when issues come up.  I think I’ve gotten a little bit of it all this summer. Seeing the different stages of work and how things go together as a whole has helped me visualize the projects and process that Perlo uses.”

His advice and lessons learned? “Have an open mind. Approach everything ready to learn and experience every aspect that construction has to offer. Come ready to learn and work. Be adaptable. If you must change tasks or go to another location, be willing to learn.”

Nate reports that he’s had a great time this summer and isn’t really looking forward to leaving Perlo for school, but he’s excited to keep learning, and hopefully return to in-person classes, as he spent his freshman year of school learning remotely.


In Shaylee’s second summer with Perlo, she’s working with our estimating teams to round out our subcontractor procurement teams, as well as bolster our historical cost databases. Keeping it in the family, Shaylee came to know Perlo through her brother, who worked on the labor side with Perlo.

Though Shaylee isn’t planning to make construction her future career and is following the path into healthcare, she says her time at Perlo has provided her with many life lessons, especially regarding being a professional, and what great company culture looks like. “I feel like Perlo is better than most companies in terms of culture.”

For important lessons, she says, “Don’t be afraid: ask questions! I was so scared my first year, but people are so nice and willing to answer questions and explain processes to me. I like to figure things out for myself, but I’ve really learned that it’s ok to ask questions. Everyone needs to be willing to speak up.”

Shaylee speaks highly of the culture here at Perlo and how much she enjoys the many get-togethers and events. “It’s really helpful for getting people to come together, be closer and get to know each other, and break out of the monotony of working at an office every day.”

We’re still trying to convince Shaylee that maybe construction should be her path, but so far, she’s determined to follow her heart into radiology. Whatever she pursues, she’ll be set up for success!  

SHAYLEE LUTZ

College
Oregon Institute of Technology

Major
Radiologic Science

Graduating Class
2024


DREW MALINOWSKI

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management and Finance

Graduating Class
2023

Drew began in construction as a laborer when he was 17. He saw that there’s rarely a shortage of construction work, and liked the hands-on elements mixed with the office side of the industry.

Of his time this summer, he says he’s learning a lot about the procurement side of construction, as well as processing RFI’s, submittals, and change orders. Additionally, he’s learning about technical writing and sounding professional. Drew says, “I didn’t know much about commercial construction before this summer. It’s nice to see and learn about concrete.

Drew says he’s undecided about exactly what path he wants to follow into construction. He isn’t ruling out concrete tilt-up structures but knows there’s still so much to learn. He’s even considering seeking out a mechanical engineering internship to see what that’s like. Of Perlo, he says, “it’s shown me how awesome the industry is and the concrete side, but I want to explore more, too.”

As for future intern advice, he says, “Be a sponge. Learn as much as you can.  It’s been awesome here, and if you have something you want to do, just ask and they’ll probably let you.  Don’t be afraid to mess up. It’s an awesome company to work for. The internship program is the best internship I’ve had, so far.  The way people treat you here makes you feel like you’re an employee and not just an intern.” 


When Jakob started school, he wasn’t headed towards the construction side of things, but he realized about halfway through that construction was the path for him. With family members in the industry, he’s had an interest in building for many years. If he had a do-over, he would enroll in the CEM program instead. His internship with Perlo has confirmed that construction is his preferred career.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Jakob is a full-time fire fighter in Corvallis, Oregon. To be able to complete his full-time internship this summer with Perlo and not lose his position at the fire house, Jakob covered shifts for the other firefighters over the course of the last school year so that his own shifts would be covered this summer while he’s away, and he doesn’t regret a thing about putting in those extra hours.  

Jakob reports that he’s learning a ton: “Without having a CEM background, I feel like I had a bigger learning curve compared to the others.” He’s been learning to read blueprints, utilize Bluebeam software, and take in the whole process.“ It’s been awesome because I don’t just learn one new thing every day, I learn 5 – 10 things every day.”

With so many lessons to learn, Jakob says that the greatest has been how important organization is. “The project manager I’m working with has four projects and is bidding other work, and the volume of information he has to track daily is eye-opening to me.” Jakob has seen firsthand how to be organized, track documentation, and always close the loop on communication.

His advice for future interns is to come eager to learn each day.  There’s always something you can be doing and learning about. “I found out really quick that there’s always something I can be doing each day to be better at my job.  Whether it’s Bluebeam, or acronyms, or construction technology, there’s always something you can be doing to make yourself better every day.”

Of his internship in general, Jakob says, “It’s been awesome. The people at Perlo are great and so fun to work with. It’s the most fun summer I’ve had.”

JAKOB EISENBEISS

College
Oregon State University

Major
Bachelors of Science in Finance, Biology, and Minor in Chemistry

Graduating Class
Fall 2021


JOEY IMELIO

College
Oregon State University

Major
Business Management

Graduating Class
Fall 2021

Joey has a family friend with a general contracting firm in Sacramento, California, and spent several high school summers as a laborer on their workforce. This experience helped him fall in love with building something from scratch. Friends with a previous Perlo intern, Joey heard great things about working here and was grateful for the opportunity to be here for a summer internship this year.  

Joey’s opportunities this summer have included jumping into a few active projects, as well as some shorter work with our estimating teams to bid projects. He reports that all of these experiences have only solidified his passion for the industry.

Of construction management, he says he likes having the ability to come to the office but also to go into the field and see what we’re actually building. “Sitting at a desk for five days a week isn’t necessarily what I want. It’s nice to be able to go into the field.  I like the GC side because you get a taste of all the pieces of a building. I love organizing things and that’s really what we’re doing each day. I’d like to stay on the GC side of construction. It’s a different day every day and you get to work with a lot of different people.”

Big lessons learned have included improving on his communication skills and time management. “With COVID I felt like my structure of my day was lacking, and now it can’t be.” He’s also been taking a lot of notes and soaking up everything there is to learn.   

To future interns, he says, “Be hungry to learn and seek out opportunities. If you aren’t seeing one piece of the puzzle, ask to see it. Ask superintendents or other project managers if you can stop in to see their sites. Take it all in – there’s a lot to learn!”


Tahnna reports that her road to construction was a bit complicated.  In high school she enjoyed math and science and thought some kind of engineering career would be great but didn’t know exactly what. As a college freshman she was introduced to the architectural engineering program. “It’s kind of like a cross between civil and construction engineering management, so I take a lot of classes that only CEM students take and are beyond what the civil engineering students would take.”

Of her time as an intern this summer, she reports that she has learned an incredible amount, from industry ‘lingo’, to how to work in a professional environment and how the construction process operates in general. She’s been involved in client and subcontractor communications, working with Bluebeam, and even reviewing outgoing proposals. “I’ve gone to a ton of meetings, and I feel that’s where I’ve learned the most. It’s like a language immersion program except for construction.” 

Tahnna is still exploring all the options that construction has to offer before she decides on her long-term career goals. “Before my internship I didn’t know what I could even do with my degree.  Now I do know what I can do, but there are a lot of options!”

Tahnna’s most important lesson? “Trust the process. I really came in here blind, and I’ve been doing a lot of work without knowing how to do it, so you have to just start. That seems scary, but now that I’ve done it, I know how to do so many things. It’s made me more comfortable asking questions – even when I think I’m asking too many.  Luckily, I’ve been encouraged to ask a lot of questions and clarify expectations.”  

Her advice to future interns is to simply ask as many questions as possible. Her project engineer advised her early on to ask two questions after every discussion, no matter what.  “It’s hard at first, but there’s endless things to learn.” She’s discovered that the list of learning opportunities are endless, but the people here will help her find good answers.

Finally, she says, “Perlo’s awesome. Everyone should work here.” We can’t disagree with that!  

TAHNNA SHAABAN

College
Oregon State University

Major
Bachelors in Architectural Engineering

Graduating Class
2023


JONATHAN TYRA

College
Oregon State University

Major
Bachelors in Civil Engineering

Graduating Class
2022

As the son of an architect in California, Jonathan grew up around jobsites. He came to OSU because of their grants for renewable energy research but shifted away from that focus once he got started.  

Following a project manager working on two active projects this summer, Jonathan reports that he’s been learning a lot about initial job setup and owner communication. In addition to projects that are underway, he’s been exposed to the preconstruction side and has worked on budgeting, creating schedules and putting formal pricing together, as well as talking to subs.

Of the industry, though, he says he’s not yet sure where his final focus will be.  He’s enjoying concrete tilt-up construction, which pairs well with his civil engineering degree. That said, he also knows that there’s a lot of the industry left to learn and explore.

Jonathan’s important lesson from this summer is to “Slow down and take my time completing tasks. Also, make sure I’m asking lots of questions.  It’s ok to be wrong and it’s also ok to ask for clarification when you’re confused.” Unlike during the school year when it can feel like knowing information simply to pass a test is the end of the knowledge you need, the real work requires true learning and retaining of new information.

His biggest lesson and advice for future interns is that it’s ok to be wrong. “This is a learning experience. There’s a lot that school doesn’t teach you, so you have to learn it on the job. This is a good chance to get your foot in the door and learn about what markets excite you.”  

As for his time at Perlo, he says, “it’s been a really good summer. It’s been fun having the experience of being in the field and in the office.”  


Micah is a second-year intern with Perlo and, while he’s always had an interest in building things like Lego structures, he didn’t realize construction was his forte until he was picking my major for college. With two summers nearly under his belt, he does think that project management is in his future. “This job requires staying organized amongst a lot of moving parts, and problem solving under tight deadlines, and I do well with both of those things”, he says.

The learning opportunities have been endless. This summer Micah has been focusing more on the project completion phase of work, as he’s been onsite at the McKinney Elementary School remodel in Hillsboro. The looming deadline of school age children returning to campus combined with extremely challenging supply chain constraints has shown him the high-pressure situations that can be involved in our industry. “It’s fast paced, especially on this project”.

His most important lesson this summer, in fact, has revolved around the importance of deadlines. “We remind subcontractors constantly about deadlines.  We need to be in the front of subcontractor’s minds so they’re very clear about what and when they need to perform. They have to do a good job for us and do it quickly.”

If he had any advice for future interns, it would be to ask the question ‘why’ more often. “Those around you will teach you many things, but it’s important to ask why we do things in certain ways.  It’s really helped me gain a bigger understand of many concepts.” 

Micah reports that he’s had a great experience with his internship, that it’s going well even with the pressure of deadlines and problem solving that a fast-paced education project brings. “It’s been a really good experience for me.”

MICAH GIBSON

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management

Graduating Class
2022


SPENCER MACHINSKI

College
Seattle University

Major
Civil Engineering

Graduating Class
2023

Spencer reports that his investigation into careers as he was contemplating college led him to consider engineering as a degree. “I’m a big fan of heavy industry and machinery, as my Mom worked at a mill when I was growing up.”  Construction, he says, “fell in my lap as I toured a project in 2019” while on a jobsite with his Father, who was an engineer for a Perlo project. That tour led to exploring construction management further, and a lucky landing at Perlo with a summer internship this year.  

His lessons learned this year have included a lot of communication skills. “I have communicated client needs to subcontractors and back.  I’ve helped communicate new safety procedures, too”. And of course, he’s watched the process of going through design, review and then implementation of those designs.

Of his future career plans, Spencer says he’s still trying to decide. “This is my first internship and experience in construction…and I’ve been located onsite on a high-tech facility, so there’s a lot of process piping and mechanical systems but not a lot of architectural construction.” While he isn’t sure what type of construction he wants to work on in the future, he says he isn’t ruling out high-tech.

The advice he has for future interns is to ask questions.  “There is no bad question.  No one looks down at you for asking the ‘stupid’ question.  Even when they seem super obvious, you have to ask it to make sure everyone is on the same page.” He also encourages future interns to get to know the subcontractors and be open to everything there is to learn. Be a team player, ask why, and then work hard.”

What’s next?

These students are all headed back to school this fall in whatever virtual or in-person form that takes. We are glad that they joined us and hope they are taking valuable lessons with them into their future construction careers.

If you’re interested in joining our team, watch our careers page for job openings and to apply.  We’re always looking for new talent to join our team!

The Pacific Northwest has experienced multiple heatwaves during the summer of 2021, and the soaring temperatures are 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

Rhabdomyolysis
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 our summer heatwaves. 

Electrical Vehicle Charging

Recent news stories have shown agreement that the supply of and demand for electric vehicles (EV) is growing. Car and Driver even posted an article recently outlining all of the promises that car manufacturers have made regarding plans to create a variety of new EV’s, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, EVS and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Most manufacturers are working on new models, and one thing is for sure: the US will need a huge increase in infrastructure to provide enough electric vehicle charging stations to meet the demand for charging these vehicles.

Recently our clients have begun to think about installing underground infrastructure so that their building sites are ready to add charging stations at a later date. Today we’ll take a look at what is necessary for prepping a site for this use. 


What are EV Charging Stations?

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging stations are similar to what a gas station is to traditional vehicles – they’re the means by which an electric vehicle ‘fuels’ it’s ‘tank’. Many EV owners charge their vehicles at their homes in the evening, but as adoption of these types of vehicles increases, there is becoming a need to have charging stations in publicly available locations for longer trips, or those who don’t have their own home or garage to plug in to for the purchases of charging their cars.

Currently, there are three levels of EV chargers available:

Level 1
A standard 110-120 volt wall outlet, like you would find in your home. This is the slowest way to charge a vehicle.

Level 2
These chargers are a 220-240v outlet, similar to the voltage that powers up the average household clothes drier. This is the most common way that homeowners charge their EV’s and it may require a full night of charging to complete.

Level 3
Also knows as ‘fast chargers’, ‘DCFC chargers’ and ‘DC Fast Chargers’, these are 400v or more and are the quickest way to charge an EV, sometimes in 1 – 2 hours or less.

In addition to the level of charging, there are different types of plugs on each vehicle which may or may not connect to every type of charging station.

Underground Infrastructure

Like other electrical components in a building, the EV charging stations require a hard-wired power source, which means that underground conduit must be installed to run wiring from the public power grid to each charger.

On a recent project that Perlo constructed, the owner wanted infrastructure in place to add EV chargers to their entire parking lot at a later date.  This required sixteen 4” diameter conduits be placed underground with many vaults onsite.  Nearly 5 miles of conduit runs through that one single site for future charging stations.

Such a large infrastructure installation, if installed at a later date, would require tearing out most of their parking area to complete. With the conduit run during the new construction phase, the owner will be able to minimize downtime and re-work when they’re ready to complete the charger installation.   

Construction Schedule Impacts

For new construction, the impacts to the schedule duration will be dependent on the quantity and location of the charging stations. However, the conduit does require additional trenching and this work can delay the installation of some critical path work items, such as curbs and sidewalks, finish grading and paving for parking lots. With proper planning, however, the work can be accounted for to minimize those schedule impacts.

For a post-project installation, the work will require saw-cutting, trenching, and placement of conduit, followed by backfill and re-paving.  The duration will be highly dependent on the number of stations being installed and the EV charger locations relative to the power source. To minimize schedule impacts, it’s best to know that EV charging stations are desired during the preconstruction phase of the work. This will allow for planning conduit routing, sizing of electrical gear and procuring an electrician that fully understands the needs of charging stations.

Optimal Site Conditions

The infrastructure for EV charging stations can certainly be installed on any site, but the complexity to complete the work will depend on the conditions of the ground that the contractor must work in. Because the conduit work requires so much trenching, an ideal site will be dry, with stable, or even rocky ground. Ideal site conditions make installation simpler and safer for the workers placing the conduit. If sites have unstable ground, such as in very wet dirt, or sandy soils, there are safety risks such as trench cave-ins, and a need for more dewatering procedures.

Power Requirements

The question of ‘how much power do I need’ for future EV stations is a complicated question. The technology for these stations is evolving and if an owner doesn’t plan to install the stations for several years, it’s possible that the power requirements at that time will be less than they would be today.

Another complicated factor about power for EV stations is ensuring that the local power utility has the quantity of power necessary for the site. The volume of power needed for an entire parking lot of charging stations is significant compared to a standard building. An owner will need to work closely with their utility provider to verify that it can provide the quantity of power they’re wanting or enter into discussions to achieve that power within a reasonable time frame.

Final Thoughts

The best way to ensure a successful installation of infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations is to pre-plan the work very early in the design phase of the project. With pre-planning, we can work through schedule impacts, routing, and procurement of a qualified electrician for the work. Additionally, conversations with the local utility provider will be paramount to ensure that adequate supply can be brought to the site.

If you’re considering the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, contact our estimating teams now for more information.

This week’s woman in construction feature is Elissa Looney, Senior Strategic Initiatives Manager at Perlo. A 13-year veteran of Perlo, Elissa’s current role includes working with internal teams on new directives, improving operations, efficiency with processes and protocols, and new business pursuits. Prior to this position, Elissa founded Perlo’s Special Projects Group (SPG), creating a department that contributed nearly $17 million in small projects to company revenue with four project managers and seven superintendents at the time she passed the torch in 2019. She was also a recipient of the Portland Business Journal’s 2021 Forty under 40 class!

We asked the women in our office to submit questions for Elissa to answer for today’s article.  Keep reading to learn more about Elissa’s time in the construction industry.   


What led you to the construction industry?

My Dad. He’s one of the owner’s of Perlo, and when I was looking at going to college, he would tell me, ‘I think you’d be an excellent project manager’. I knew how hard he had worked in his career and I wasn’t sure I wanted those long hours to be my life, so I didn’t think it would be the career for me. 

In 2005 while I was home on summer break, I came to work here and was the assistant to the assistants.  The company was trying to decide if they needed more help and figured they could test it out on me, since I would be there only temporarily. So, I refilled the printers with paper, helped organize submittals, made calls to subcontractors, helped with filing and whatever else was needed.  When I went back to school, they hired a permanent person for the role. I did that for one more summer and then asked for something more challenging, so in my third summer I was an intern and learned more about estimating and project management. I guess it stuck, because I asked for a job upon graduation and was lucky enough to be given one. 

What was the first project you managed and what was your favorite or most challenging project?

I have to admit, I don’t remember what my first project was. I’m sure it was something really small. But I do know what my favorite project, or series of projects was.

Perlo built the original building for Portland French Bakery (PFB) many years ago. As all buildings need, they’ve made some upgrades and replaced their roof and I ran those projects as the project manager. The people there are awesome.  One of their owners, Dave, likes to tell stories, and he always wanted me to bring my dogs by to visit (outside the bakery, of course). And they always sent me home with their delicious bread. It has always been my favorite fresh from the bakery, but once you’ve had it right off the line? No bread compares—it’s the best.

Additionally, PFB’s projects were always made more complex because it’s a food production facility and they operate 24/7. We had to be very careful to contain all construction debris and dust, and carefully plan logistics to complete their work. It’s always challenging, but always rewarding.

What does your current role entail?

I wear a lot of hats in my current role. I work with almost every department on some kind of strategic initiative. It might be implementing new programs, such as our warehouse consumables purchasing program. It might be working with our onboarding teams to create more formal onboarding training. I also work on our DEI initiatives and scholarship program, with marketing on web articles and RFP pursuits, and some business development. 

I get to work with our project managers, superintendents, support staff, accounting, and executives in any given week. I get to be the person that figures out how to get the right people in the room with the expertise to create and manage each program moving forward. It’s been incredibly rewarding, and I enjoy it a lot.

Have you felt the need to work harder and prove yourself more since your Dad is one of the owners? 

Absolutely. When I was younger, I absolutely felt that some people didn’t think I belonged or that I’d only been given the job because of my Dad. In some ways, that may ring true to some based on my education (business degree, not a CEM or engineering degree).

For the most part, I think I’ve proven myself, but I know it can be natural for people to sometimes make judgements about me and my abilities and think that I haven’t earned my place here. I have always been grateful that my path here has been different than a traditional project manager, though. I’ve been challenged with starting new company programs my whole career, from my first task of improving our subcontractor tracking programs when I was fresh out of school, to starting and developing the Special Projects Group. That means it’s hard to compare my performance to others because it’s so unique.  

How did you manage projects and SPG without a CEM degree? 

The short answer is that it was a lot of trial and error, and, I had a lot of help! In the beginning, SPG was focused only on very tiny repairs and maintenance items. Things like finding a leak in a roof or wall, installing a new door opening, or ‘fluff and buff’ projects where we just updated carpet and paint. Really, it was more about customer service, logistics and the business side of profit and loss, making the department run efficiently, and things like that.

It was a year or two into SPG that we started tackling larger projects with more formal drawings, structural concerns, etc. So, I had the benefit of learning the ropes of the industry and the customer service side of operating the business without needing a ton of engineering specific knowledge. When I did start learning those things, I asked a lot of questions, studied hard and leaned on my coworkers and superintendents to help me.

A lot of construction management is about customer service, controlling expectations, and paying attention to the cost of work.     

What is some of the best advice you have received when it comes to women working in construction?

“Be yourself. You don’t have to think about yourself as being different than others, just work hard and do your job.” I was told this very early in my career by a woman who had been in the industry for a long time, and she was spot on. It’s been harder to be the boss’s daughter than be a woman in the industry.  

What is your mantra?

“I’m not sure how, but I will.”

I actually have a sign in my office that says this. I’ve always been one to look at a goal and start moving towards it. I don’t usually know exactly how I’m going to get there, but I figure it out. Sometimes the end goal moves, and typically it is better in the end than I even imagined it to be. I find that this attitude helps me to think outside the box and stay creative. In construction, we can’t look at things the same way each time, because each project is different. If I can’t see an immediate solution, I keep asking questions and looking into possibilities until I find something that works for us and our client. There is always a way if we’re willing to look hard enough to find it.  

What personal qualities help you succeed at your job?

Persistence. Determination. A willingness to fail and try again, and to ask a lot of questions to find the right answers.

Where do you see yourself and Perlo in 5 or 10 years? Do you think there will be more women hired/promoted to management positions?

I think this is a hard question to answer for myself. I hope that I continue to progress and join our highest-level leadership teams. I really enjoy what I’m doing now, as this work is giving me valuable experience that should help propel me forward. As for Perlo, I think we will continue to grow and expand geographically. I think the sky is the limit for us as a company and the people who work here to pursue higher volumes, more complex projects, and a wider range of market sectors.

I do think we will see more women hired and/or promoted into leadership positions. When I started here there weren’t any other female project managers, and the only female department head was in accounting. We’ve increased how many women are in project management roles by a significant margin since then. The reality is there aren’t a lot of women in construction and it’s going to take some time for the ‘younger’ generation to gain enough experience that we can reach the highest positions. But it’s definitely coming, and the industry will be better for it.

What is your proudest personal accomplishment?

I have a hard time feeling ‘proud’ of my accomplishments, I suppose because they just feel like things I should have done anyways, because it’s my job.  They are things that I committed to and should be expected of me. But if I have to choose, I think I have two:

First, I feel really grateful that I was chosen to be the 2016 CREW Portland Chapter President. I turned 30 the year that I served, and the ladies of CREW Portland are all such an amazing group of women.  It was an honor that they felt I was prepared to lead them.  I learned a lot from that group – and still do, to this day!

Second, the founding and building of SPG. It was a new department and I had very little direction to go on when I was tasked with starting it at 23 years old.  It morphed and grew, and I had fantastic team members.  It was also the department that hired our second and third female project managers. I learned so much from the superintendents that worked with me, the subcontractors that worked with me, and it felt a lot like it was our own small company within the larger company.  It was a very unique opportunity that become a successful part of our company fabric. I am definitely proud of that work.    

What advice would you give to women seeking excellence in this industry?

Work hard, become an expert, but never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Have a bit of a thick skin, but don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, either.  Advocate for yourself when you need to, and read the following books:

The Confidence Code, by Kathy Kay and Claire Shipman

Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth

Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown

Alpha Dog, by Mark Breslin

The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle

Peak, Secrets from the new Science of Expertise, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

And finally, be yourself. You don’t have to be ‘one of the guys’ to make it in this industry. Be good at your job, become an expert, ask smart questions, and be yourself.

Final Thoughts
Thank you, Elissa, for sharing your story with us today. We appreciate you!

In past articles we have explored challenges related to summer construction as well as urban construction environments.  Today, we’ll discuss those related to building commercial projects in rural areas. While rural construction comes with advantages, such as fewer neighbors, larger work zone areas and less stringent jurisdictional oversight, the nature of being further from city centers also lends itself to additional hurdles. Read on to discover more.


1. Lack of public utility connections

Rural buildings still need all the same utilities as in other locations, such as power, water and sewer.  Additionally, they need internet, fire sprinklers, mechanical systems and, in the case of wineries or production facilities, process waste. However, if these properties are located outside of cities with these services, they often need to add wells for water, septic systems for waste, and detention ponds for fire water.

Rural areas, such as Dundee, a small town in Oregon’s wine country, do have the ability to connect to the power grid, but are often only served with single-phase, 240v power.  For commercial needs, 3-phase, 480v power is necessary.  New construction may need to bring this power from miles away to meet their needs, and this expense can fall on either the utility provider, the property owner/developer, or a combination of the two.  

Fire sprinkler systems have been known to spare lives, structures and significant damage to surrounding areas in the event of a fire.  If the new structure is large enough to warrant fire sprinklers, the property must have the water capacity to properly charge the fire sprinkler lines that serve the building.  Because many rural properties are served by a well, other solutions for fire water must be found. The options are typically one of two:

  • Installation of large holding tanks, either buried or above ground.
  • Installation of large detention ponds.

With either option, diesel pumps must also be installed to convey the water from its stored location into the building when necessary.  When thoughtfully designed, these elements can be placed in such a way that they become a part of the landscape.  Visitors to the site may not even be aware of their intended purpose.  Of equal importance to the building as water supply, a septic system may be the only option to remove waste from the site.  Designed by third-party consultants, commercial facilities may need very large septic tanks and drain fields to accommodate their use. On a recent winery project, our teams installed 14 tanks and nearly 1/4 of an acre of drain fields to serve the campus needs.

Finally, many facilities have natural gas powered equipment and/or appliances. To achieve a supply of natural gas, these locations must install onsite tanks in lieu of connecting to underground supply lines. All of these utility systems require special permits, which vary depending on the jurisdiction. These permits may be handled by the specific trade contractor or through a third-party design consultant.

2. Smaller subcontractor pool

Rural construction projects require just as many trades to complete as those in any other location. However, just as more people are centered inside cities and fewer in rural areas, so are our trade partners. Depending on how busy the industry is at the time of construction, finding a large enough pool of subcontractors to bid on work in rural areas can be challenging. If a company is busy with work that is located more conveniently to their operations, they may not choose to travel out of their normal geographical area.

Reputable general contractors with an established base of reliable and loyal trade partners can bridge this gap. It’s imperative that each team member be kept informed of the schedule and updated as construction progresses so that everyone can best manage manpower and materials lead times.  

3. Additional third-party consultants

While most construction projects, particularly when they’re ground-up, require some third-party consultants, the addition of wells, wet-wells, diesel pumps, septic drain fields, process waste and production piping generally require the use of third-party consultants. This increases the coordination required to ensure that documents are correct, permits are issues and sign-offs are completed during and after the work.

4. Transportation and access

Site logistics and transportation issues are challenges for every construction site, but rural sites are a little bit different.  While we typically have larger sites with fewer nearby neighbors, the local roads into the building location are often narrow, windy and steep, and may not be paved. In some instances, access may only be available through shared driveways.

Similar to other new developments, we may need to add access roads, new driveways or complete public road improvements for both temporary and permanent access. The permitting required for these roads will vary by jurisdiction.

In addition to regular access, the narrow, steep or winding roads are a logistical challenge if large materials deliveries are required, such as large girders, joists and beams. 

Likewise, the proximity to concrete batch plants is further than what is ideal. As concrete is truly an art and a science, this can mean that some items should be precast, or pours scheduled for very late or early hours to avoid traffic that further compounds the length of time between the plant and the jobsite.

5. Wildlife protections

Highly dependent on the exact location of rural developments, significant wildlife protections are a consideration. Any time we disturb a site, we risk disrupting local habitats. Our teams must use caution, for instance, when owls are spotted in trees or in wetland areas where turtles may be present or need habitat rehabilitation.

In addition to the possibility of direct disruption to habitat, contractors must install proper stormwater and erosion controls measures. Without such measures in place, we risk allowing runoff from the site to contaminate or muddy local streams and rivers. With proper precautions and planning, we can minimize disruptions and prevent contaminants from entering surrounding land. 

6. Rural jurisdictions

Working with rural jurisdictions is incredibly rewarding. The small-town community feel and relationship building that takes place is great for the contractor, the owner, and the governing body in the area.  However, with less density in the jurisdiction, a few challenges can arise:

  • Lower levels of technology, with fewer options for online permitting
  • Fewer staff members available for permit review and/or inspections
  • Site inspectors cover larger geographic territories, which limits their ability to visit many sites in one day.

All of these challenges can be overcome with proper planning and communication with the local inspectors and permitting offices. We have found that working in rural jurisdictions is pleasant, fair, and rewarding.

Final Thoughts
Working in rural communities has been part of our fabric since our founding, and we find the projects that we engage in to be sophisticated, detailed and fun. While there are certain challenges involved in the process that differ from urban or suburban construction, the work is well worth it. 

If you’re considering construction in a rural area, please contact our teams to learn more about how we can help you.

We have recently received a lot of questions about one of our most visible projects located at the corner of Tualatin Sherwood Road and 124th in Tualatin, Oregon.  That question is a resounding, ‘what is that large rock pile for?’ The simple answer is that this temporary mountain of crushed rock is a result of a mining operation to flatten a site that had 60’ of elevation change prior to the work beginning. Today we’ll explore beyond the large rock pile and provide an overview of the work taking place at Tualatin Sherwood Corporate Park (TS Corporate Park).  This 32-acre development is striving for LEED certification and will be home to three speculative industrial buildings with a completion date in early 2022.


Tualatin-Sherwood-Corporate-Park

The Tualatin Sherwood Corporate Park Development

This full site development includes three new industrial buildings with all associated site-work and public street improvements.  The three finished structures will include:

Building C: 271,581 sf concrete tilt-up shell

Building D: 145,624 sf concrete tilt-up shell

Building E: 62,212 sf concrete tilt-up shell

Each building is of concrete tilt-up construction with dock doors, drive-in doors, concrete interior slabs, ample parking and semi-truck traffic routes. Built on a speculative basis, these are currently available to lease through Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and Macadam Forbes.

The Excavation and Mining Work

To level the site, excavating company Kerr Contractors is completing more than 1 million cubic yards of excavation work, including the blasting and mining of nearly 600,000 cubic yards of rock. The visible rock stockpile is made up of roughly 1/3 of that yardage, with the prior 1/3 already consumed by off-site locations, and about 1/3 left to be mined and relocated. 

Tualatin-Sherwood-Corporate-Park

Of the crushed rock generated on the site, about 60,000 cubic yards have been used or will soon be utilized for building foundations, parking lot subgrades and the public access improvements to extend Cipole Road into the site.  The remainder will be used for other jobsites that Perlo and/or Kerr Contractors is completing or sold for consumption by other contractors off-site.

To accomplish the large rock removal operation, a concrete crusher was installed onsite with a weigh-station so that rock can be crushed, stored, then loaded, weighed, and sold directly from the TS Corporate Park site.  At completion, the crushing operation will be dismantled and removed.

The mining operation has consisted of blasting at least once weekly since the work began. The largest blasting work has been completed previously, with more surgical blasting and mining continuing from now until nearly the end of the year to round out that scope of work.  

To complicate the mining operation, the construction of the new concrete tilt-up structures began long before the blasting work was planned to finish. To accommodate the concrete pours, Perlo and Kerr teams have regularly coordinated to prevent damage to the new concrete. Some strategies to avoid concrete damage include:

  • Timing blasting to avoid vibration within at least 7 days of any concrete pour.  This may require blasting twice in lieu of once so that rock crushing operations can be maintained while concrete is poured and cures.
  • The installation of vibration sensors in the ground to track movement due to blasting and ensure that vibration levels are low enough to maintain the integrity of the building structures.

The mining operation is running 7 days per week and 24 hours per day to maintain the owner’s desired schedule.  Permitting took place through the City of Sherwood, as well as Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue to ensure that communication and safety between the local areas and the site are well planned and maintained. So why is there such a large pile of rock? Quite simply, the mining and crushing is taking place faster than the rock can be sold and consumed off-site.  We anticipate that all the rock will be removed by year-end. Until then, we watch it grow, change, and soon be minimized to a level site. 

Site Utility Tie-ins

Previously undeveloped, the site needed all new power, water, storm and sewer systems to be installed. Logistically, tying these utilities into the site has been one of the challenges of the work.  The new sewer line, for instance, had to be tied into the existing city sewer system located across Oregon street at the Western corner of the site. The 12” pipe had to run very near to a local dental office, with boring under Oregon street to be completed. In addition to standard utility connections for the buildings, the development will include several new electric vehicle charging stations, complete with the infrastructure to provide adequate power to these units.

Unique Site Features

Aside from the significant excavation work, the site includes some unique features:

  1. A soil nail shotcrete retaining wall that is 15’ tall at its highest point.
  2. A natural rock wall adjacent to the shotcrete wall where the primary rock mining work is taking place. This wall is 40’ at it’s highest point.
  3. A new street extension to bring Cipole road into the site, complete with a new streetlight.
  4. Significant lengths of lock + load retaining walls near the street.
  5. Large onsite water retention ponds for stormwater management.
  6. Electric vehicle charging stations.

Critical Site Logistics

The presence of more than 75 trade workers and truck drivers each day means that site safety and clear logistics planning are critical to delivering a successful project. Though the site is quite large, much of it has been taken up by the mining operation and storage of rock. Additionally, there is the construction of three buildings, sitework, and the trucking needed to export the rock all taking place at the same time. These factors make for a logistical challenge that has taken expertise and extensive communication to overcome.

Some of the strategies we are using to ensure the safety and efficiency of the site include:

  • Amy Cook, a full time safety team member on the site to help maintain a safe construction site.
  • Regular site meetings with all subcontractors involved are held to maintain communication and coordination.
  • Clear signage and traffic routes onsite.
  • Pre-determined materials laydown areas and crew parking locations.
  • Extensive pre-planning and routine reviews and updates to that plan as the work progresses.

Extensive communications protocols, pre-planning and some creativity have led to a safe, clean and organized site.

LEED Certification

All three buildings are aiming for LEED certification at completion.  Some strategies used to attain this certification include minimizing contaminants in all building materials, and sourcing local materials. Additional measures for LEED certification will take place for the tenant improvement work when the spaces are leased to a tenant.

Final Thoughts

The TS Corporate project has been a shining example of complex site logistics and communications strategies.  As one of our more publicly visible sites, it has been an honor to have the opportunity to talk to so many community members about the work being completed there. We look forward to completing the project this Fall.

If you’d like to know more about our construction services or want to get in touch, please visit our services page or contact us here.

It’s nearly Independence Day here in the United States, and this year, Perlo Construction wishes you a happy and safe day of celebration. Today we take a moment to remind everyone to use caution this weekend so that you and your families can celebrate many more years together. 


Here are some tips to remain safe this year:

1. Plan for a designated driver if you’re going to consume alcohol.

According to the National High Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 38% of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes over the Fourth of July weekend involved drunk drivers.

2. Use caution with fireworks. 

Fireworks routinely cause significant injuries to kids and adults.  An estimated 10,000 fireworks related injuries occur in the United States each year, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 19,500 fires were started by fireworks in 2018 alone, resulting in five civilian deaths, 46 injuries and $105 million in property damage.

3. Enact safe practices when grilling and cooking.

According to the NFPA, July is the peak month for grill fires. Check out these safe grilling tips to ensure a stress free day of outdoor cooking.

4. Practice safe boating and swimming.

Fourth of July weekend combined with Memorial and Labor Day weekends account for nearly 1/3 of all boating and related accidents and fatalities.  Follow these tips to remain safe on the water this weekend. According to the USA Swimming Foundation, an average of 17 children drown in pools or spas during Fourth of July weekend.  Check out these tips to make sure your kids stay safe.

5. Beat the heat!

With the current record-setting heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, it’s more important than ever to know the signs of heat related illnesses.  Check out this tip sheet from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more.

As always, Perlo strives to create a safe work environment for our people, but we care about them when they’re away from our sites, too. If we all use caution, we can celebrate safely this weekend. With safety in mind, have a wonderful holiday weekend celebrating our nation’s independence!

This week’s interview is with Amy Cook, one of Perlo’s Field Safety Coordinators.  Amy began her construction career as a carpenter in the field and has a fascinating story to tell. Read on to learn more about her winding path into construction, the lessons she’s learned from it and the changes she’s seeing in the industry.


How did you get started in Construction?

I had been travelling and playing music for most of my twenties, and I was ready to settle down and find something more financially stable to do. I was an art curator, too, but those jobs were few and far between. I was approached by a friend that told me I should join the union and I thought being a carpenter would be a good job to retire in. At the time I was living in Hawaii and had a dream to build my own house there. That’s still a dream of mine, one day.

Anyway, my first job in construction was with a subcontracting firm and was the worst introduction a new participant could have. They put me on a 25’ staircase in a parking garage and was told ‘strip it’. I’d never even heard that term.

Additionally, no one talked to me about fall protection. Nothing was protecting me from the leading edge.  My belt was on backwards and my tools were in the wrong pockets. Nobody wanted me on their jobsite. Nobody said anything to me. For three days, and I was trying to take wood off with the wrong tools.  I thought ‘this is just a dangerous job’. The supervision was terrible, and the foreman wasn’t even around. The crews just did their own thing. And I didn’t know any better because I didn’t have any frame of reference about what it should be. 

I wandered around that project and found the scaffold guys and they taught me a lot. I was there for about two months and then I moved to a different company to do rough framing and roofing. There was more training at that company.  It was the first time anyone showed me anything about fall protection, ergonomics, etc. I didn’t go through any formal training at that time – I was waiting for the union to get me into their training program, so I was still a ‘carpenter helper’.  But once I got on that project with that company, people seemed to really help me and care about me. 

What kept you going in this career with that kind of an introduction?

At that second company, there was an old-timer that I followed around.  He told me that if it had been 5 years sooner, he would have told me to get off his jobsite because I was a woman, but he told me he’d seen several women on jobsites and that they worked just as hard as the men.  He showed me a lot of things about how to properly swing a hammer to be more efficient, etc.  I really liked that.

Honestly, I really loved the work.  I was in my late twenties and heading into my thirties. A lot of the guys around me had been doing it for 20+ years. I was excited to be learning something new and getting a consistent paycheck.  I had a good attitude and sometimes brought treats. I wanted to bond with my coworkers. I loved getting paid to work out every day.  That’s how I saw it.  I loved the physical aspect of it and was in much better shape then. I did Taikwondo as a kid, and so I liked the physicality of it. I also had that dream of the house in Hawaii and that kept me going. 

How has your career progressed from being a carpenter in the field?

I started with Perlo as a carpenter in the summer of 2019. In January 2020 I was interviewed for a position in the safety department as a Field Safety Coordinator.  Honestly, I don’t know how I got this position! I went into that interview against some really experienced safety professionals. I decided my intention was to make them smile and laugh in the interview, and that is what I did. I had nothing to lose in that interview, because I loved what I was already doing as a carpenter.  I did a mock safety audit and I just joked the whole time. I figured that if I just made everyone laugh, they would at least remember me!

So, how I got this role, I don’t know, but I so appreciate the opportunity. I couldn’t be working with a more supportive team and supervisor.  I’m lucky to have gotten this position, with Perlo and the immediate team. 

What are the differences between being a carpenter and the safety side of construction?

For most of the jobs I had as a carpenter, before Perlo, safety wasn’t a big priority.  It wasn’t something that was held in high regard. We just did what we needed to do to get the job done. No one was really talking about safety until I moved over to Perlo.

Working on the safety side has been a totally different world.  Just being in the office part time is different.  I’m out in the field but also working from a computer about half the time. I appreciate the quality of life that this position has given me.  My body isn’t totally dead at the end of the day – that work was so tiring.  If someone’s been a carpenter for 25 years, they should get their pension – it’s a physically demanding job even if you use perfect ergonomics.  But that’s why there’s good benefits: it’s hard work!

What do you do as Field Safety Coordinator?

I try to bridge the gap between safety and field personnel. It’s not about regurgitating OSHA standards and regulations – it’s about reminding each and every employee that they matter, and that going home in one piece is what safety is about. We want each person to go home safe and sound to their family. We are protecting the individuals and their families with our safety work.

So I help keep people safe. Some of what I do is to look people in the eye and ask how they’re doing before they step into the field, and make sure they are present and in good health before they go to work. At my current jobsite where I’m stationed each day, I’m doing a ‘move well’ program each morning, so I really do get the chance to be face to face with each worker in the mornings and help keep them safe. 

Prior to my current role, I was roving from project to project. Each safety team member has a certain geographical jurisdiction. I did a lot of Portland and everything north of there. Sometimes we mix it up and ‘trade’ projects or walk projects together just to get fresh eyes on things. And we perform safety audits at each site. My credentials were minimal at first, so I spent time building relationships with people and asking questions, talking through any issues.

If an incident, close call or violation occurs, I always want to know how we got to a problem and then how to prevent that in the future. I don’t want to just solve the symptom; I want to find the root cause and then solve that.

We also organize our safety equipment, organize documents and data to track our progress. I’ve gotten massive support from Dennis (Safety Manager) and the rest of the team. You know, you can learn to speak Spanish from Rosetta Stone or you can move to Mexico and become fluent much faster.  And that’s how I feel like I’ve learned about Safety, but with a huge support net.

Do you feel like you’ve been treated differently because you are a woman in construction?

In carpentry, I was absolutely treated differently. To some extent, anyways. It’s not as hard for me as it might be for others. I feel like I got in at a really good time, but I also think that the West Coast is way more forward-thinking and accepting than other states. For the most part, I see the industry course correcting and participating in the shift to improve safety and attitudes – even the old timers.  Which makes those who don’t want to participate stand out even more. 

When the guys were ‘messing’ with me, I actually felt like I was accepted. That said, there’s a line between jovial and harassment, but I did have to report a couple of people for harassment. No one touched me or anything, but there was some weird behavior that I had to report. But I learned from that – I’m still a female in this industry and need to make sure I’m not putting myself in a position where I’m alone on a jobsite.  I mean, I wouldn’t put a man alone on a jobsite, either. That’s just not safe.  If there’s an accident, someone needs to be able to call 9-1-1.

Because I’m a safety professional, I do talk to women on jobsites and act as an advocate for them. I check into their scope of work, and let them know that we have zero tolerance for any kind of bullying, hazing, harassment, etc. There’s kind of an alliance because there’s so few women onsite. We see each other and support each other.

The sisterhood in the brotherhood union is crucial.  I’m still involved in meetings with the union and attending the Tradeswomen ‘Build Nations’ event. I’ve learned a lot through the women onsite.  There are real stories from women we need to capture to be sure we can mitigate hazards before they happen, and find ways to educate men onsite, too. Because of what I saw as a union carpenter, I feel guided to protect minorities no matter their gender. I feel deeply guided to do my due diligence.

Is it correct to assume you’re seeing a structural behavior change in terms of safety and how people treated onsite?

Yes. Absolutely. I haven’t been in this industry as long as many, but there’s a huge effort underway to improve behavior on jobsites. If I see harassment, I’m going to do something about it. All of the safety professionals play a role in preventing poor behavior. Some ‘old timers’ don’t like the idea of safety, but you know what? They don’t have a choice. I am here to be a resource for people and build relationships.

For the most part, everyone has been incredibly welcoming.  The superintendents are on board, and we truly do work together, which is a really special relationship. No one learns from being criticized all day long. We’re here to learn and improve and keep people safe and whole.

How would you recommend people get started in this industry?

Becoming a carpenter is sort of like running through burning hoops – you have to find a job first and then join the union. But if possible, I’d try to find a way to join the union first and then get to work.

I wouldn’t recommend getting a safety position if you have zero experience working in the field. Even though you can memorize rules and regulations, the experience you get from working onsite is not replaceable with book learning. The biggest advantage I have as a safety professional is that I know what the folks in the field are experiencing.  I know what it’s like to be in a muddy ditch or dealing with snow/rain, etc. It’s hard work and I don’t need to be barking at people. If someone forgets their hardhat, I go grab it and give it to them. You know – you don’t have to yell.

I recommend being motivated – you have to find that within yourself. If you’re in high school, there are Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that you can get involved in, so take those, and learn about the trades. There are also organizations like Girls Build, where younger girls can gain experience with STEM careers.  Just get involved with your community – get to know the people in it, ask questions. There are apprenticeships for most trades, and the classes that are offered through those are priceless.  Welding, carpentry, laborers, etc.  Get involved and start caring about your future.

Do you still have your Hawaii dream?

I do, but it’s slow-paced living out there and it’s nice to have a steady paycheck for now. I’ve broadened my horizons a bit. I would like to find a way to teach martial arts to kids and do exhibitions, etc. My dream would be to have land somewhere and have all the local kids come out, be safe, learn, play. I want them to learn how to protect themselves. I couldn’t afford a lot when I was a kid, so I want kids to be able to have better opportunities and not have to pay for them.

Final Thoughts

Amy, thank you for sharing your story with us. We are proud to have you on our team! If you’re looking for new career opportunities, check out our Careers page now.

This week we’re highlighting the work of Parrott Creek Child & Family Services. Perlo has been a sponsor of this organization for several years and believes in the work that they do within our community.  We discuss their work today with Parrott Creek’s Executive Director, Simon Fulford, who has been working in his position for the last 2.5 years. 

Prior to Parrott Creek, Simon worked for the Oregon Youth Authority as a Senior Strategic Policy Analyst and spent the prior 28 years in the non-profit sector, consistently working with organizations that service at risk or vulnerable populations, and predominately with children and youth.


Can you give us an overview of what Parrott Creek does?

Parrott Creek was founded in 1968 and was established by a citizen led bond measure in Clackamas County, Oregon.  This allowed for the purchase of 80 acres of woodland and a farmhouse to create the non-profit, with a mission to provide support and guidance to youth in the juvenile justice system. 

Residential treatment for youth has been the core of the work of Parrott Creek, and it has been operated on the Clackamas property ever since.  Over the years, we’ve also added and grown a number of community-based programs and our services now include outpatient behavioral health treatment, independent living programs for foster youth, and our suite of Children and Mothers’ programs. These services work with family members with substance misuses problems where their children are at risk or have been removed from their homes.  We help them access treatment programs and guide them through support and housing services to aid in reunification with their kids. This includes helping them practice their parenting skills and remain drug free until they can access permanent housing of their own.

How is the program funded now?

About 80% of our funding comes through government contracts, either statewide through Oregon, or local programs through Clackamas County.  About 20% comes from private donors, supporters and sponsorships.

When the government pays for things, it’s rock bottom dollar – they pay the least amount to get the bare minimum or the least amount for the most of what they can get.  As an example, our government contracts don’t pay for a birthday cake for the child having a birthday party with their mum, perhaps for the first time in their life.  The private support really comes into play by providing all of the additional elements of programs that government contracts just don’t pay for, like enrichment activities, sports, and cultural engagements. The government really only pays for a roof over their head and required “case management”, not the items that can make a huge impact on that family for the long term. 

Are your funding sources stable?

The government funding is relatively stable, but where they fall short is with regard to two things: for example, we signed a new 5 year contract with a government agency that has no inflation or cost of living increases built in over that term.  So ultimately, we end up with a 2 – 4 % cut per year. Secondly, as many who work in social services know, the contract models don’t really enable organizations to provide the service in the way that we know it should be provided.  They contract on capacity but they pay on utilization, so the non-profit is always left subsidizing any unused capacity. 

For instance, you’re contracted to have ten beds available at any time, but if you only have eight kids in those beds, you’re carrying the extra two beds of capacity without actually being paid for it. To relate it back to the construction industry, it would be like a company having to lease 5 bulldozers for a job, but only getting paid to lease 4 of them and carrying the cost of the fifth one on their own.

How are referrals made to Parrott Creek for participants in your programs?

Overall, we work with children and families who are pretty deeply involved in our systems of care for one reason or another. They come to us through one government agency or another. Many of them are referred through child welfare systems, which means social services is involved because of concerns about safety, exposure to violence or trauma, or something of that nature. The government determines that we can help provide the best, or most needed, services to them.

At the same time, we are building towards developing an outpatient treatment service that would be more available to private referrals, so that, for instance, parents struggling with their children would be able to call us for help.  It’s not something we’re ready for yet, but it’s something we’re building towards.

Why do you see that there is a need for your services?

There’s a need for our services on different levels.  On one level, human beings are, sadly, fallible.  They make mistakes.  When they’re traumatized, they often get into generational cycles of traumas, where a trauma that a parent experiences gets replicated or repeated with their children, either by themselves or the situation that they’re in. As a society, we haven’t always done the best job of intervening in trauma, helping them heal and not repeating that behavior further down the road.

Additionally, people have trouble accessing minimum wage jobs and housing.  We have issues in this country with economic inequality, and all of those factors make it so that people struggle, have challenges and don’t have opportunities that some of us benefit from.  Those issues can compound on each other and snowball until one challenge causes another one, and then a third one, etc.

For example, a parent is referred to us because they’re struggling with addiction and social services is threatening to remove their child from their care. So, the parent works with Parrott Creek to access substance misuse treatment.  To achieve the best outcome, they should enter residential treatment, but if they do that, they would lose access to their housing.  This means that they have to choose between their best treatment option and maintaining housing. If they enter residential treatment, they likely lose their children and their housing, as well. So we’re asking them to make those impossible choices – to choose between being clean and sober and keeping their kids or affordable housing.  It shouldn’t be either or, it should be both.  We should provide them the right level of treatment to beat their addiction and keep their kids in their care and have enough support to do that.  Making someone homeless is the worst way of helping stabilize their life.

Oregon ranks 50th in the nation for drug and alcohol treatment programs and behavioral health treatment for adults, and we’re near that for children’s services, too. The government doesn’t design things this way.  It’s not intentional. It’s just that they don’t always connect the dots.  We could benefit from private sector companies that specialize in logistics, for instance, to help evaluate these programs to provide better outcomes. So that ties back to funding. While it’s relatively stable, the limiting contract models can get in the way of providing the most appropriate service that deliver life-long impacts.

What benefit does Parrott Creek provide to our community?

Our programs are often a diversion from youth going into prisons. We try to engage at risk youth with the community and keep them as far away from the ‘formal’ justice system as possible. Generally, it’s less expensive for the community for them to be at Parrott Creek than to be in a prison, and perhaps more importantly, they have better outcomes. In our program for youth with sexually inappropriate behaviors, we have nearly a 100% success rate – meaning they won’t repeat those behaviors – if they complete that treatment.

In the residential program, the re-offending rate is about half the statewide average, as compared to those who end up in correctional facilities. We also see our work as a preventive for the future of our community.  If we’re contracted to work with an adult who is struggling with addiction and we can help that parent solve their problems, we’re often able to break that cycle and prevent those same problems from being passed on to their kids.

Someone who makes a mistake and struggles with substance misuse needs support to get them back to parenting appropriately and safely.  A youth who has committed a crime needs education so that they don’t commit it again and can become a valuable member of society. Supporting and investing in programs like Parrott Creek is an investment in our future.  If we can break cycles of trauma and violence and homelessness, then we can have healthier, more wholesome, more nurturing communities, which in turn is best for all of us.

One in every two of us have family members who have experienced abuse, trauma or neglect in some way.  It might be that your sister was sexually assaulted, or your cousin has a drug addiction. Maybe you have a sibling who lost their housing and lived in their car for a few months. Literally, about 50% of the population have close family members and friends who have been touched by trauma, abuse, neglect or addiction.  So, at some level, most of us need support for these things.

What effect have you guys seen on the community because of COVID?

We’re beginning to see the effects of what we suspected was going on but was very much hidden.  Collectively, we’re beginning to see that the acuity of abuse that kids have suffered is higher. During COVID, there were fewer referrals on child abuse hotlines, but the severity of their abuse and neglect was higher.  This is because a lot of kids fell under the radar, and it was only the real extreme cases that got reported because they ended up in the hospital or the police were involved. So we are now we’re seeing other cases emerge and the severity of abuse has increased. 

The other impact of COVID is that because everyone is fearful and a bit cautious, they’re uncertain about how much they can start doing again. A family who is struggling with addiction is always very hesitant to engage in support, and COVID has made people even more insular and not able or willing to reach out and accept help. While it’s always been a struggle to engage with families, it’s now harder because of the last year and a half.

A lot of us in the social service sector are also worried about when the eviction moratoriums expire, that families who haven’t been made homeless yet are about to lose that security.  We’re worried about what the compounding issues that might cause.  No one faults a landlord for wanting their rent, they deserve that.  But we may see a wave of homelessness, which then triggers a lot of other very negative consequences.

The other impact of COVID and this strange year economically is that the hiring and recruitment challenges of today are permeating the social services sector, as well.  We’re finding it extremely difficult to find talent.  The wages for social service employees tend to be pretty depressed and these people are already being paid at the low end of the salary bracket for very hard work.  So, we’re finding it difficult to hire new people.

What can the community do to support Parrott Creek?

Dollars always help, as most know. And there’s different ways people can help.  We’re always looking for donors to pay for the additional services where a small donation can have a big impact, such as buying a birthday cake for a child who’s never had one before, or for a youth to get engaged in a basketball program. In terms of bigger investments, we hire masters level therapists to work with our youth even though the government won’t pay for that level of care.  We know that this level of training and professional care is needed.

We also like to work with local business partners who can provide vocational training opportunities. Our kids might benefit from a visit to a place with Perlo, or a Miles Fiberglass. Maybe a tattoo parlor. We like to work with our local community businesses to show our youth the careers that they might not otherwise have imagined could be for them.

It’s also helpful when we get donations for the children and families particularly at Christmas time. We appreciate that we get quilts donated so that each youth gets a new quilt when they arrive here. The community might think about getting involved in a volunteer day to do things like landscaping, or re-painting the rooms in the housing areas, or things like that.

Tell us what your Week of Giving is all about?

Our week of giving is all about opportunities for us to share all of the work we do in much more detail.  We will release a video per day that focuses on aspects of our services and providing more insight to that. We will explain our residential, outpatient, children and mothers’ programs. It’s a way, particularly with COVID, to show the work that we do. We hope to inspire others ways to support us, either in donations, for volunteer hours or finding partners to show vocations to our youth. 

And we want to share our vision for what we want to achieve at Parrott Creek and let people know how they can partner with us and stay informed. As much as we say that our staff walks alongside our youth, we also want our community to walk alongside us and the vision that we have.

What is planned for the future of Parrott Creek?

Our big vision is to become a regional center of excellence in the service and treatment support for children and families. Here’s the bigger picture: We have a plan to rebuild our residential treatment campus just outside of Oregon City. It will include brand new buildings that are trauma informed and as carbon neutral as possible.

We aim not only to provide the best possible treatment to the youth onsite, but also to provide access to the 80 acres of land that we have. And we want to provide additional outpatient support to the community. 

We want to partner with the Native Americans that this land came from by providing those communities access and benefit to the land that we sit on. We’d also like for inner-city and BIPOC communities to access the land and our model of services.

We don’t want to settle for good enough, but to always aim for the best of what’s really needed. What’s ‘good enough’ is the minimum service that the government provides, but we don’t want that to be all we do. We want buildings that are of a quality and grade that is really the best for those children and families that need it. We want it to be the best because these families deserve that, as well as the best opportunities to thrive and recover. We want to give them the best possible opportunity to be successful in the future. We want them to feel as loved and as loving as we want all of us to be.

What is your ultimate hope for our community?

I hope that one day we aren’t needed anymore. I want to fast forward and find that organizations like Parrott Creek aren’t needed, or at least not at the scale that we currently operate at. I’d like to be able to close our living units because we’ve turned the tap off of violence and abuse and it isn’t being passed on from generation to generation any longer.

What else would you like people to know?

I’d love for people to know that they can come visit our residential site. It’s a special place to be. I also want people to know that our vision is doable – it’s doable if we all believe in it, support it, and don’t settle for good enough. We keep aiming for the best. Lastly, we are really thankful to Perlo and companies like yours for all of their contributions. Several years of really engaging and deeply supporting and investing in our work makes a big difference, and we are so grateful.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been moved by the work that Parrott Creek does for our community, you can find out more about them on their website located at www.pcreek.org/. To participate in their Week of Giving, visit www.pcreek.org/parrott-creeks-week-of-giving-for-a-year-of-impact/

Finally, we’d like to thank Simon for sharing the story of Parrott Creek with us. Thank you for all you do.

This week we’re talking with Perlo’s Vice President of Preconstruction Services, Chris McLaughlin. A veteran of the construction industry for nearly 30 years, Chris is well known for his insights into construction trends and pricing and leads our preconstruction group in budgeting and estimating all of Perlo’s projects.

As we’ve reached the halfway point in 2021, we thought we’d take a look at how 2021 has shaped up so far, and what might be on the horizon.


What have you seen happening with construction in 2021?

Construction is extremely active across most market sectors, with industrial topping the list. It is as active as we’ve ever seen it. The design firms are tremendously busy – maybe even to the point of exhaustion. They are looking at new projects that are slated for the next year or two and are being very selective in the new work they take on. Design firms had a big slow down when COVID first hit, but over the wintertime and in recent months, work has really picked up. As a result, we’re expecting to see even more growth on the construction side of things when the projects in design hit the market. We have been fortunate to continue growing our team in the last year, so we’re well-poised to handle the increased demand.

As far as where the projects are located, we’re seeing more buildings in the outlying areas where land is more readily available. For this area, that means Vancouver and Ridgefield, the south end of Tualatin, Canby and Hillsboro. The available land is on the fringes, so that’s where we’re primarily building.

And the last big thing for the year is that prices are rising and there are significant constraints with the supply chain. Those factors are really impacting the market, even though it doesn’t seem to be slowing things down. We see all of these trends continuing for the rest of the year.

What has been unique about the year, so far?

One of the things that’s unique about this year is that projects are going to start later in the year than they normally would. Typically, a glut of new projects start in late spring/early summer. This year, the bulk of them will start late summer/early fall instead. So, the cycle has shifted a bit later into the dry weather window. I call it the ‘pandemic hangover.’ Because owners and developers paused for three months last year, it shoved building starts out this year. It’s really why we’re having supply chain problems too.

Another thing that’s unique is that real investment paused for a bit in 2020 as people waited for the pandemic to sort itself out. Because of that, the pool of money that’s available for investment has piled up and is now ready to be spent, contributing to the volume of projects. Those that held off on business growth or building expansions have now picked up that topic and many are racing to build now. In the meantime, their money was sitting and growing for an extra year.

How has the global health pandemic and the local wildfires impacted construction?

COVID shut things completely down for a few months on the supply side. We’ve seen minor impacts to productivity on construction projects because of distancing/masking/quarantining, and additional safety measures. However, those disruptions were minor in the grand scheme of things.

As for the wildfires, we had some minor shutdowns, but in the big picture that wasn’t huge. But we did have to deal with air quality issues for the first time, as that’s not normal for our geographical region. Similar to COVID, that challenge was new and required us to adapt and flex. The biggest impact from the fires will come in the form of new air quality regulations for workers, which we anticipate that OSHA will release this year.

We keep hearing about price volatility. Can you tell us more about what materials that’s affecting, specifically? And do you see that volatility continuing?

I actually don’t want to call it volatile. Volatility indicates that pricing is going up and down, but in the current climate, it’s not going down – it’s just going up. It’s a sharp rise. You might even say skyrocketing. Unfortunately, it’s not fluctuating, we are just watching to see a change in how steep the line is rising. At this point I’m hopeful that prices will be volatile, meaning they’ll come back down. We don’t want them to continue going up. I don’t think that prices are going to keep rising – I think they will level off. And I may be wrong…I don’t have a crystal ball. But I’ve never seen the market rise so fast and then just continue to rise. It needs to level off. I do not think we will ever see prices return to the levels they were 8 months ago.

In terms of specific materials that are causing this steep increase? It’s steel, steel joists, lumber and sheathing, primarily. Steel materials includes piping, tube steel, decking, rebar, etc. Many parts of buildings are made with steel. And that trickles through the system for all materials, so you’ll see those price increases on things like furniture that have steel handles, nails, etc.

Why is there such a fast increase in prices?

It’s really a response to the supply chain disruption combined with a huge demand for new buildings. Primarily that demand is in the industrial market, which has exploded across the United States. Amazon is buildings many facilities across the country and that has greatly increased the need for building components like steel, roof decking and sheathing. The housing market is the big driver behind lumber price increases with the huge demand for new homes across the country.

What should owners be thinking about if they’re discussing a building project right now, either new construction or a remodel?

Give yourself a bigger budget and a longer timeline than you think you need.
The impact of the cost spike is going to impact your project. And if you can deal with the cost spike, then you have to worry about delays in delivery. Designs might take longer, and permit approval times are longer, too.

The one thing I don’t see right now is a labor shortage. It’s tight, but not dire. At least not today. Subcontractors are still bidding on work, we’re getting great participation and interest in projects, and receiving competitive pricing. Meaning, we get multiple prices within a narrow range for each trade when we bid work, which are positives for anyone trying to build something right now.

What market sectors do you see either increasing or decreasing in construction activity this year?

Healthcare & Senior Living
My assumption is that the healthcare market will start to pick back up as money becomes available, and facilities start working on deferred maintenance work. Additionally, many healthcare projects were put on hold when the pandemic began and are now being resurrected. I believe senior living will also increase, for the same reasons as the healthcare market. Both of those were really affected by COVID.

Urban Office
Central business district or urban office projects are shifting, but not increasing, as people try to re-evaluate how remote work will affect real estate requirements in the central core. This is especially true in Portland, since we’ve had a lot of added political chaos. Across the country, every employer in every city is going to face the question of whether they should downsize their footprint.

Retail
Retail is being transformed. I don’t know what that means quite yet, but I don’t see us building any new Macy’s or Nordstrom stores any time soon. I doubt you’ll see retailers building out large spaces in the same way they’ve done before. Maybe there will be some near new residential subdivisions, but it’s going to be different and we don’t know what that means, yet.

Public Sector
I believe that public sector work will increase, whether that’s K-12, higher-education, libraries, or other work. I think that market will remain at a steady volume, based on bond measures and public funding.

Industrial
Industrial will continue to be hot, based on re-configured retail operations and demand for e-commerce. That’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Auto Dealerships
I think the manufacturers have probably relaxed demands for facility upgrades in light of COVID, so we’re unlikely to see those types of projects increase this year.

There is talk about a lot of federal funding for infrastructure work. Do you see that helping bolster the construction industry?

The thing with huge buckets of money from the federal government is that nothing happens fast. By the time those dollars hit the market, it might be four to five years down the road. So that’s going to be slow to impact the construction market. That said, it would be a good time for people to think about getting into the industry. There are going to be many great opportunities for excellent careers in the near and long-term future.

What lessons do you think we will take with us moving forward from the last year and a half?

You can never get complacent. That’s a big one. And second, there is value in having human contact and relationships. That’s a big part of what makes my job enjoyable. I hope we all remember that moving forward. I think construction is still exciting. We have to be nimble and adapt to whatever gets thrown at us, and we don’t know what that will be. We’ve learned to be increasingly flexible – and we have to be.

Some of the flexibility we’ve learned about comes from forced video conferencing and the technology that we’ve adapted to in the last year to stay connected with people and keep projects moving along. There are some really great benefits to those programs. It’s another tool that we’ve really improved our use of in the last year, and I think it’s going to continue to be a big part of our work moving forward.

Anything else you’d like to share with our readers about 2021 and construction?

The depletion of our workforce trade labor is looming. It’s not a huge problem today, but it’s close. It’s going to gradually get worse over the next 5 – 10 years.

More immediately, I think about how we survived a pandemic, severe wildfires, and ice storms in this last 16 – 18 months. Not to mention the riots. In February of 2020, I never would have thought any of those things were a possibility. So, I’m thinking we already took our 1-2-3 punch. I’m really hoping for an uneventful remainder of the year.

The process for procuring a general contractor to work on commercial construction projects can seem like, and indeed be, a daunting task. A variety of factors are at play when trying to find the best fit for your work. 

The first step to consider is your chosen procurement method, which we discussed at length in an earlier post. There are pros and cons to each method and determining whether you will negotiate or hard bid the work is a good first step. 

If you decide to proceed with a competitive bid process, also known as a hard bid, there are a variety of factors to consider in order to achieve bids that are apples to apples in terms of scope, as well as matching expectations between the contractor and owner. 

Today we will dive deeper into this topic. How can you establish and set expectations for a bid so that multiple players provide a price for the same scope of work? How can you verify that this was achieved once the pricing comes in? After all, lowest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best or most complete price for the work you are expecting to have done. 


The Problem with Requesting ‘Standard’ Pricing

Contractors are often asked to provide ‘standard’ pricing for what might be considered typical construction, such as building out an office space inside of an existing building. Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as ‘standard’ in construction. Because there is no such standard, the most difficult part of achieving comparable contractor pricing is to establish the exact scope of work that pricing should be based on. While in theory this seems straightforward, in practice it is next to impossible.

Let’s evaluate a relatively simple scope of work than an owner might request, and then see the myriad of questions that might come up based on what is asked:

Example Scope:
A landlord asks for contractors to price out a ‘standard’ TI in a building that only has the core and shell constructed.  The owner asks for the following:

1. One single-stall non-gendered restroom with sink and standard restroom accessories.
2. Finish the walls with drywall and paint.
3. Install a reception desk.
4. Construct one private office.
5. Install new ceiling grid, standard lights, sprinklers and HVAC.
6. Install standard commercial carpet and a walk-off mat at the entrance.

This scope seems straightforward and not complex, and it’s not complex. However, there are many assumptions made in the above statement that contractors may not interpret in the same way.  Let’s look at each scope item and the questions that may follow each one.

REQUEST 1

One single-stall non-gendered restroom with sink and standard restroom accessories.

Follow up questions:

  • How large should the restroom to be? Minimum dimensions for ADA compliance or another dimension?
  • What type of sink is preferred? There are several options:
    • Wall hung
    • Undermount in a plastic laminate countertop
    • Porcelain material
    • Concrete or an alternate material
    • Above counter sink
  • Is any storage required in the restroom?
  • Is wainscot desired above what is required by code? What type of material is preferred? 
  • Should the flooring be sheet vinyl, tile or another flooring material?
  • Some restroom accessories are required by code, but others are optional. Are any optional restroom accessories desired?

REQUEST 2

Finish the walls with drywall and paint.

Follow up questions:

  • What level of finish is desired for the drywall? Most common is Level 4, but depending on the lighting and finish preferences, a client may want Level 5, or a lower level finish.  They may choose texture instead, in which case, the texture has to be defined.
  • Should the walls be primer only, or receive a finish coat? Should the finish coat be in flat, eggshell, glossy, or another choice? Should there be any accent walls and in which locations?

REQUEST 3

Install reception desk.

Follow up questions:

  • What size should the desk be?
  • What kind of material is desired? There are many options:
    • Plastic laminate
    • Wood
    • Solid surface such as quartz, Corian, or other
  • Should the reception desk be secured in place or movable?
  • Does the reception desk need power?
  • Is an upper and lower countertop desired?
  • What kind of storage is required in the desk?

REQUEST 4

Construct one office.

Follow up questions:

  • What dimensions should the office be?
  • Does the office need sound insulation in the walls or ceilings?
  • Should there be any relites or sidelights?
  • Where is the office to be located inside the space?
  • What kind of door, frame and hardware should the office have?
  • Does the office require any special lighting?
  • Should the office have window blinds installed?
  • Are the finishes in the office the same as the other office areas?
  • Does the office need power and data? If so, how many locations and where should they be placed on the wall?

REQUEST 5

Install new ceiling grid, standard lights, sprinklers and HVAC.

Follow up questions:

  • What options would you like for the ceiling grid? Some examples include:
    • Color of grid
    • Ceiling tile style and color
    • Size: 2 x 2, or 2 x 4 or others
    • Should the grid run over the top of any new walls, or should the walls run up through the grid?
  • Lighting comes in a variety of types.  There is no standard.  Some options might include:
    • LED lights
    • Strip lights
    • Hanging fixtures or pendant lighting
    • Track lighting
    • Accent lighting
  • Are standard sprinkler heads acceptable? Do they need to be rated for high temperatures or have protective cages on each sprinkler head?
  • For the mechanical system, there is no ‘standard’ for HVAC.  A contractor can interpret ‘standard’ in any number of ways, so it’s best to have a long discussion about requirements and needs for the space. 

REQUEST 6

Install standard commercial carpet and a walk-off mat at the entrance.

Follow up questions:

  •  Is it preferred to install a glue-down broadloom carpet, stretched carpet over pad, or carpet tile?
  • Can a material budget be established? Some examples of material price ranges include:
    • Mid-range, fairly standard broadloom: $15.00 – $16.00/square yard
    • Low-end carpet tile: $18.50/square yard
    • Mid-range, carpet tile: $22.00 – $23.00/square yard 
  • What kind of floor base is preferred? Some options include:
    • Rubber base, either toe base, flat base, or a profile base
    • Wood base
    • Tile base
    • Carpet base

A good general contractor will help to identify the questions that remain. However, this example demonstrates that there really are no ‘standards’ from space to space. If you are hard bidding the work, it’s inevitable that not all contractors will ask the same questions. Therefore, if the answers to the many possible questions aren’t given to the entire group of bidders, it’s easy to receive bids that contain inconsistencies between them.

How to Best Set a Bidding Baseline

The single largest factor in ensuring that bids are comparable between contractors is to distribute a set of design documents that clearly outline the scope of work. Typically, an architect or engineer will be procured to complete the design documents that the contractors can use to determine their pricing. These documents should summarize all of the details that must be considered so that contractors can price the same work. They will outline, among other things, the following:

  • Room dimensions
  • Framing details
  • Ceiling heights
  • Specifications for all materials, including exact flooring, paint finishes and colors
  • Types and locations for restroom accessories or other miscellaneous fixtures such as coat hooks or handrails

Fully designed drawings are critical for creating comparable quotes between subcontractors.  Additionally, these documents are needed not only for helping contractors create bids, but also for submitting to the local jurisdiction for the purpose of achieving a building permit.

Alternatively, there are a couple of other additional ways to achieve a defined scope:

  •  Hire an owner’s representative to help define the scope of work required.
  •  Hire a general contractor to provide preconstruction services to help define the scope of work.  It is possible to hire a GC for preconstruction services only and then involve multiple bidders when ready. 

In addition to basic designs, there are additional investigations that should take place to create complete bid documents, depending on the project type.  These might include:

  • Geological reports
  • Hazardous materials investigations
  • Consultations with the local jurisdiction
  • Specialty systems designs, such as mechanical, plumbing, electrical and fire sprinkler
  • Furniture layouts and connection requirements
  • Owner-supplied equipment design and connection requirements

For existing buildings, it may also be wise to complete some selective, investigative demolition work to determine what elements are already present inside the building. These investigations inform the team about constructability issues and how to design the work to accommodate what is found. 

Common Issues with Design Documents

While design documents are critical for helping equalize bids, they don’t solve all problems related to communicating the scope accurately to contractors. Just as contractors need the scope to be clear, so do architects and engineers. One common problem that arises is an unwillingness or unawareness of the importance of spending the upfront cost to have an architect fully design the project.

For instance, an owner may choose to have the architect draw just enough detail for permitting purposes, but not enough to define details like carpet type, accent wall locations or electrical elements.  In these cases, the contractors will have the same types of questions as we’ve outlined above.   

Another common issue that arises is related to using the design-bid-build process where the architect is designing the project without constructability reviews from a general contractor. Optimal construction projects are created when the design team and the building teams are all acting as one team throughout the design phase. Leaving a building contractor out of the process is similar to leaving one leg off of a three-legged stool.

There’s a saying that goes: ‘A penny saved up front is a nickel spent down the road’. We find that this holds true when an owner opts to save money on the design side of the work.  Involving your entire team to create clear bid documents is prudent and will lend itself to cost savings at the end of the day. 

How to Interpret Submitted Bids

Once the design documents are distributed and an owner collects bids from multiple contractors, it’s important to spend time evaluating the pricing that was received. It’s best to utilize the services of a professional to help with this process, such as an owner’s representative, or your design team members. 

Some strategies to help determine whether each contractor has the same scope might include:

  • Requesting that pricing be broken down by individual scopes of work, i.e. excavation, landscaping, concrete, etc.
  • Identifying rates charged for:
    • Insurance
    • Taxes
    • Profit
    • Labor 

It can also be helpful to have a contractor provide a narrative of what they included or excluded in their price. A reputable contractor will be able to provide this information.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the work to obtain equal bids isn’t a simple task. In construction, there is no ‘standard’ that can be requested and this fact is a significant downfall of the hard-bid method of contractor procurement.

Project Delivery Types such as design-build, CM/GC or more integrated delivery methods more commonly used in negotiated bid practices involve a general contractor much earlier in the design process.  This can help bridge the gaps between design and bidding and ensure that the price received is complete.

If you’re considering a project and need help determining the scope of work, our teams are ready to help you.  Visit our website or contact us here

Successful commercial construction projects are not just a function of good general contractors, they also hinge on the many subcontractors that team with us to get the work done.  The value of our subcontracting partners is immense. Today, we discuss more about the role they play, and why we cannot do our work without them.


Experts in Their Trades

While we, as the general contractor, manage the entire project and must know the overall scope of each trade, the individual subcontractors are masters at their craft. They know how to accomplish their piece of the work more completely than anyone else on the site.

Each subcontracting trade helps inform many factors of the work on a construction project, including:

  • Time to complete their work
  • Exact cost of their work
  • Scope that must be coordinated with other trades
  • Trade permit requirements
  • Inspections required
  • Safety requirements
  • Ongoing maintenance requirements
  • Warranty options

The role of the general contractor includes maintaining oversight and quality control of the work; we must know that the subcontractor’s work was completed correctly, and accurately. The trades work alongside our site superintendents and project managers as a team to complete each project.  

Assistance with Preconstruction

Subcontractors are also relied on during the preconstruction process. We utilize their expertise to provide feedback on many items, such as:

  • Design considerations and/or full designs, particularly for mechanical, electrical, low voltage, fire protection and plumbing scopes
  • Identification of appropriate materials and associated lead times
  • Optimal scheduling timelines and manpower loading
  • Current pricing and anticipated escalation trends
  • Value engineering or target-value design options
  • Constructability reviews for individual components
  • Contributions to BIM modeling and clash detection
  • Early determination of Requests for Information submissions to get clarification from the architect

While we keep tabs on the market trends, our subcontracting partners assist in gathering detailed information with the most current pricing and lead times to contribute to our budgets and schedules.

Below are some real examples from past projects of items that subcontractors have helped to define:  

An owner needs 10 outlets and one television in their office with appropriate office lighting.
An electrician determines energy loads, electrical panel sizes, light fixture options, etc., to properly price and complete the work in a manner that meets or exceeds commercial building code.

An owner knows that they need a desk for their receptionist, but does not know what kind of material to use for the countertop. 
A casework contractor evaluates pricing options, lead times, and durability between plastic laminate, Corian, quartz, or other countertop materials.

An owner plans to install two restrooms in their office space. 
A plumber suggests how to properly upsize the sanitary line diameter so that the building has added capacity for more restrooms in the event that the building use changes, another tenant is added, etc. 

An owner is designing a new office space and wants to determine options to upgrade the interior.
A drywall contractor suggests using wrapped openings at the door frames for a more sophisticated finish. This leads to a discussion about door frames and types, including evaluations from the door supplier and a storefront contractor to define the most economical options to upgrade.

An owner knows that they want three private offices but hasn’t considered how the ceilings should tie into the walls. 
A framing and drywall contractor can help evaluate whether the ceilings should sit on top of the walls or pass through the ceiling grid to help with sound transfer, and determine the cost of each option. 

Contributions to Construction

Perlo self-performs several scopes of work, including concrete and miscellaneous carpentry items, and we rely on our subcontracting partners to complete most other trade items on our jobs. 

Perlo_Construction_Collaboration

Great subcontractors have the following characteristics:

  • They provide honest, accurate pricing for the work
  • They order materials in a timely manner and track them for delivery to the site
  • They follow the schedule of work and complete their items quickly, efficiently and accurately
  • They offer ways to improve the workflow, safety or quality of installations
  • They bill for their work in a timely manner and pay their suppliers and subcontractors on time
  • They take corrective action quickly, if necessary
  • They work to resolve conflicts in a manner that best needs the owner’s needs
  • They communicate clearly and often with the project teams

Whether a subcontractor can perform to these standards or not makes a big difference in how effective the general contractor can be in delivering the work on time and on budget. It is worth noting that these same standards apply to the general contractor and that by working as a team, both parties can deliver their work and complete projects as promised to the owner. 

How Subcontractors are Procured

In previous posts, we have discussed procurement strategies for general contractors and, for the most part, the same things apply to procurement of subcontractors.  However, while general contractors are quite often procured on a negotiated or prequalified basis, subcontractors are almost always subject to a hard bid before being awarded a project. How many subcontracting competitors are invited to bid on a project depends in part on how the general contractor was procured by the owner.

Subcontractors may be secured based via a multitude of procurement strategies:

  •  Lowest bid with a complete scope
  •  Billing rates for labor and fee above cost
  •  Target budget that subcontractor must meet
  •  Negotiated contract based on qualifications of subcontractor

If the general contractor is hard-bidding the work, the pool of subcontractors invited to bid may be quite large. Additionally, if the work is for a public project, rules require that the work be advertised publicly, so the pool of competitors is often even greater.

Alternatively, if the contractor was negotiated with the owner, the pool of subcontractors may be as few as three per trade. In these instances, the general contractor has more ability to pre-qualify the pool of subcontractors and focus on their abilities to complete the work, and evaluate their responsiveness, timeliness, and expertise before inviting them to bid. This can help ensure a high-value product is delivered.    

Recruitment and Mentorship of Subcontractors

With subcontractors holding such an important role in the work that we do, we work hard to both recruit and maintain a large pool of qualified subcontracting partners. In addition to the standard procurement strategies, Perlo employs both a full time Subcontractor Coordinator and Subcontractor Relations Manager that work to recruit and retain subcontractors for our sites. These individuals send out bid notices, help connect subcontractors to internal project managers and estimators, and mentor them on the projects that might best fit their skillset.

In addition to our standard procedures, we may employ several other strategies to ensure subcontractors all have an equal opportunity to bid our work. Some examples include:

  • Hosting subcontractor ‘open house’ opportunities to review the projects with Perlo team members.
  • Holding onsite walk-throughs to see existing spaces and review project requirements.
  • Announcing bid opportunities and attending minority group meetings such as:
    • OAME – Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs
    • NAMC – National Association of Minority Contractors
    • PBDG – Professional Business Development Group
  • Mentoring subcontractors in the appropriate paperwork to submit billings, insurance or other forms to ensure timely payment when work is completed. 

Most importantly, we strive to work together with our subcontractors to create a team environment, where their success is our success, and our success is the owner’s success.

Subcontractor Appreciation & Final Thoughts

Great subcontractors contribute to smoothly running projects.  When each team member on our sites is contributing optimally to the work, surprises or changes to the scope can be dealt with quickly, efficiently and without conflict. Here at Perlo, we try to make sure our subcontractors know how much we appreciate their work.  They are an integral part of our team and help us deliver projects that owners and the community around them value. 

If you’re interested in working with us as a subcontracting partner, you can check out our open bid opportunities or fill out our subcontractor pre-qualification form by visiting our Plan Room.

Our previous posts related to the JSR Micro, Inc. project in Hillsboro, Oregon have taken a close look at the preconstruction and structural components of the work, as well the complexities of the process piping systems that are an integral part of the functionality of the building.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read those posts, we encourage you to check them out before reading further here for the conclusions of this case study. Read on to learn about the closeout and commissioning process.

Our teams completed the preconstruction and construction phases and worked together with all parties to reach the point where all systems were completely installed. Now began what is arguably the most critical phase: commissioning and qualification. On a typical project, once construction is complete, the turnover process begins. Permits are closed out, the punch-list walk takes place and the list of small repairs is complete within a week or two. Then the owner gets the keys, receives brief training and a full set of operation and maintenance documents.

Typically, the construction and turnover stages overlap very little. With this project though, the two processes had to happen concurrently. It was not possible to install the pipes, turn on the system, then go.


Commissioning and Qualification

Once everything was in place, the team was able to begin the commissioning and qualification of all systems. As noted in our previous post, not one inch of the five miles of custom-built pipe could be introduced to liquid before it was absolutely ready to go. Once the pipe got wet, it had to stay that way to avoid contaminant growth. This is atypical for the usual project and made testing for leaks very tricky. Proper planning and execution were paramount, as the project’s success was dependent on it.

In addition to leak-detection, the entire network of systems was not turned on until everything was in place and they had liquid to regulate and measure. These motors, automated valves, pumps and instruments were primarily long-lead items and/or custom made for JSR’s needs. Once fired up for the first time, the team discovered some unavoidable and inherent manufacturer errors that they had to work through. When determining how to solve each issue, the team had to discuss whether there was time to go through the entire warranty process for the repair or replacement of individual items, or if that particular system could be rerouted to keep the system and commissioning on track.

Step After Micro-Step

To begin the testing phase, the team had to circulate the liquid through the pipes. The testing sequence was broken down and tracked systematically, from raw material tanks to filling stations. All liquid introduced to the system was run through the Ultra-Pure Water (UPW) plant before entering the remaining piping. This liquid was constantly flushed and contaminant levels recorded to keep it at the incredibly miniscule levels required. In addition, all materials brought in from outside the facility went through rigorous testing before they were ever added to the UPW plant.

Each step involved a multitude of micro-steps. The entire system works together to create the products JSR produces, and yet, each line is highly specialized. The order of start-up was critical, as some lines needed to begin before others.  Our teams worked with JSR to determine the proper start-up sequence, where each line intersected with others and timelines to verify all were in perfect operation before moving to the next line.

When Chemicals are Like a Loaf of Bread

To better envision how JSR’s systems work, let’s look at the analogy of a bread bakery. A company makes and sells bread, but there are many different varieties. White, wheat, focaccia, and sourdough all need some of the same ingredients, and some different. The UPW plant can be viewed as the “flour”. Each type of bread requires flour, so in order to get the sourdough line up and running ahead of the others, it would require the “flour” line, the salt line and the yeast line to be working correctly, as well.

Nothing in the JSR facility is without a purpose to serve in the ultimate goal. Each line feeds into the other bread variety lines and all have to be tested many times throughout the startup process to ensure materials are being transported appropriately and all systems are operating as they should be. After all, you wouldn’t want your focaccia bread to taste like wheat bread, or your sourdough to be too salty. 

A Team Effort

Perlo’s team worked closely with JSR’s teams to ensure that pre-programmed systems worked correctly. Therma’s team implemented the software and built the server that functioned as the “main brain” of the facility. During the testing phase, we verified that those signals came through correctly, triggered all elements and opened all valves in the correct, specific sequence.

Once all systems were verified, triple-checked and given the green light, the final step in the close-out process was to conduct training for the JSR professionals taking over. Perlo’s team showed them the locations of each manual valve, how the control and safety systems worked, and explained all utilities, air control, and automated systems. We then packaged up the operation and maintenance manuals and handed the building over to JSR.  Their teams took over and went into full production mode.

Smooth Commissioning

Overall, the qualification and commissioning process was completed without any major obstacles. The pipes worked as designed, and the team found no evidence of leaks. The building was completed in September of 2020, although we continue to work alongside JSR on their sustaining projects.  Our thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of the facility and ability to continue working on projects that are both large and small make our team a great fit to continue supporting JSR’s operations.

Final Thoughts

When dealing with a high-tech facility as specialized as JSR’s, it is imperative to get your general contractor on board very early. Through our design-build approach, the custom systems were designed, ordered, and built exactly according to the client’s needs, and having our team involved from the get-go ensured no detail was overlooked and no corners were cut. While this was not a quick process, it was a truly rewarding one. All parties involved had a vested interest in the project’s success, not only because it was their job, but because they poured their heart into it.

It took a village to complete, and we are grateful for the opportunity from JSR and Stratus Real Estate Developers, LLC, as well as appreciative of our design and trade partners who made all the difference in completing this one-of-a-kind facility.

Perlo has seen its fair share of different materials used across all sorts of projects. With lumber prices heading in an upward trend and an emphasis on environmental responsibility, Cross laminated timber (CLT) in recent years has risen in popularity and we see it first-hand with our clients. Cross laminated timber is a more sustainable wood product with great structural integrity that can be used for floors, walls, and roof structures.  The product has made waves in the news for its use in multi-story buildings, such as Portland’s Albina Yard project, but the uses for this sustainably sourced wood product are nearly endless. 

Today we will explore more about what CLT is, and how it can be used to enhance the building construction process and create aesthetically pleasing spaces.


What is Cross Laminated Timber?

Cross laminated timber is a pre-engineered wood panel made up of lumber that is laid crosswise in an odd number of layers (typically 3, 5 or 7) and glued into place.  The panels are produced to custom widths, lengths and thicknesses depending on every individual project’s needs.

Produced by a variety of suppliers across the world, the lumber used to create each board is sourced from trees in sustainably managed forests and from trees that are small to medium in diameter.  This allows manufacturers to source their raw materials from forests that can be regenerated. 

Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines cut each panel to size and also include any window or door openings, as well as other penetrations. These cuts are incredibly precise and allow for cutting and routing of great complexity. CLT panels are prefabricated and custom sized before shipping to each site, and are lifted into place with heavy equipment.   

Cross laminated timber has exceptional acoustic, fire, seismic and thermal performance ratings, and is used for structural elements because of its load bearing capacity. It can even span distances up to 98 feet.

Image courtesy of Think Wood.

How is Cross Laminated Timber used?

The structural applications for CLT are nearly endless, with the panels used for floors, walls and roof structures. CLT can be installed and left exposed for interior applications, and sealed or otherwise finished for exterior structures. A sister product, the Glulam beam, is used in spaces where appearance is important, such as in large, vaulted ceilings, or architecturally attractive spaces like churches, higher education, trendy office spaces or entertainment venues. Glulams work as trusses or purlins and are often paired with CLT panels to span long distances.

The use of wood is often considered to contribute to a warm, home-like atmosphere, and is visually pleasing. In short, CLT can be used for structural systems, for aesthetic reasons or a combination of both.

Alternative Uses for Cross Laminated Timber

Perlo has completed a few projects with CLT as a major component of the work, in applications such as office mezzanines, grocery stores and interior office walls and platforms. These systems can be one component of sustainable building projects that are trying to attain LEED, Living Building Challenge or other green construction accreditations.

In addition to the sustainability component, CLT can be used to achieve:

  • Clean installations of mezzanines in existing spaces
  • Large clear spans
  • Interior prefabricated wall systems
  • Lower costs of labor
  • Shorter lead times for structural components as compared to steel

Cross laminated timber does not have to be a main component of the project to be effectively utilized.  It may simply be a small part of a larger construction project.

Projects with Cross Laminated Timber Components

Young’s Market Mezzanine

The Young’s Market tenant improvement included a new, 3,000 SF CLT mezzanine with exposed glulam beams and timber posts. The use of this material aided in creating a rustic feel, with lighting, ductwork and sprinklers all exposed at the underside of the deck. 

The CLT mezzanine was fully installed in only two days.  It was then prepped for a 1.5” gypcrete topping slab and sound mat below the gypcrete to reduce sound transmission.  In hindsight, the team realized that the gypcrete was likely not necessary.  However, it should be noted that the CLT wood is relatively soft as compared to a hardwood flooring product, so it is possible that if the surface is left exposed to foot traffic, it will scuff and scar quite easily.  Another benefit to the CLT mezzanine was that the installation of the gypcrete floor was simpler than a more typical tongue and groove structure, or even a metal decking. The CLT board has fewer penetrations where the gypcrete could potentially leak through from the second to the first floor. This factor sped up the preparation time and lessened the materials required for the gypcrete pour. 

The final product is a space that feels warm for its occupants, is aesthetically pleasing and highly functional.

DWFritz World Headquarters

This multi-phase, two-story office tenant improvement for DWFritz included a wide variety of CLT panels for walls, mezzanines, stairs and floors. This unique office design was constructed inside of an existing concrete tilt-up warehouse.  Each office space was constructed with CLT walls that were left exposed. Additionally, the new space included a viewing mezzanine, stairs, a raised floor and planter boxes made from CLT panels.   

Significant planning was involved in the design, review process, transportation and delivery of the panels for this building. All penetrations had to be planned for and pre-cut with the CNC machines at the mill. Routing was completed to accommodate steel stair nosings and the steel track that anchored the wall panels to the floor. The CLT panels were installed prior to many of the finishes being completed, as the space had casework, drywall and furniture, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that could not be installed prior to the wall installation.  The construction teams had to take great care to protect the finished surfaces of the CLT during construction. 

As discussed earlier, the finished surface of CLT panels is quite soft and susceptible to damage. To combat this, our teams left the tight wrapping that is used for shipping intact as much as possible until all work was done. Upon completion, the space was unique, beautiful and conveyed a rustic, industrial but still warm feeling for its occupants. 

More Advantages of Cross Laminated Timber

In our current climate, CLT has come to the forefront of discussions for use in projects due to its availability, sustainability, and relatively short lead times.  Pricing of steel structural components and framing lead times have become excessively volatile, with costs rising sometimes 10% – 20% month over month, and lead times extending out 4 – 5 times longer than the norm. We are fast approaching a place in time where CLT is quicker to get onsite and coming closer to being comparable in cost.

Cross laminated timber has not been commonly used for roof structures in the United States, especially on large industrial buildings.  However, we anticipate that this will soon change. Lead times for steel joists and girders have increased to 9+ months from the time of order. This delay in availability isn’t acceptable to meet many project schedules. While the use of a CLT roof structure is still a cost premium, it is more readily available within a reasonable timeline.

Final Thoughts

We look forward to seeing more creative uses of CLT in future buildings.  The structural advantages, warm aesthetic appeal and sustainable sourcing of the material make it an ideal choice for many building components. If you’re considering a new building or interior tenant improvement, we can help to evaluate the options for materials and components that will make the most sense for your space.  Contact our team for more information! 

In a continuation of our series on the construction of JSR Micro, Inc., we’re exploring more about the process piping and internal elements of the work.

Once the core and shell of the building was in place, it was time to construct the guts of the operation. The initial work included a fairly standard tenant improvement, with offices and restrooms, and all associated fire protection, HVAC and plumbing and electrical systems. Where things got complicated was the extensive amount of process piping required. The manufacturing and installation of the process piping system was an enormously involved process and had to be completed at the highest possible level of accuracy. Any variations from the plan could result in a product defect.

To ensure all bases were covered, the process to plan and construct the process piping was broken down into three steps: designing the piping system, breaking the design down into pieces, then connecting all the pieces.  


Designing the Vision

The project team was given photos of the existing plant in another state and were directed to “copy-exact” that process in this new facility. To achieve this, while the core and shell were being built, the pipes and skids were being designed. No easy feat, it took a year of intense collaboration with all involved parties, discussing and reviewing every inch of the facility to figure out what went where and how to sequence the installation.

Our team had to be proactive and innovative. The team had concerns about copying the design and still meeting the higher building codes that the City of Hillsboro had as compared to the location of the plant we were to copy. Additionally, if the design did meet code, we had to circle back to make sure it still met JSR’s needs. Many variables had to be taken into consideration and thought through.