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


StorQuest Self Storage

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

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

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

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

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

Perlo Team

Jeremy Maynard | Project Director

Erich Schmidt | Senior Project Manager

Joe Kane | Superintendent

Gary Cox | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Mars Gracida | Field Safety Coordinator

Herzog-Meier Mazda

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

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

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

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

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

  • Structural concrete work
  • Roof structure installation

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

Perlo Team

Jake Jensen | Senior Project Manager

Joe Sprando | Project Manager

Jay Edgar | Superintendent

Dave Castillo | Foreman

Regan Cloudy | Project Engineer

Crystal Bentley | Lead APM

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

True Terpenes

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

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

Perlo’s team self-performed the following scopes:

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

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

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

Perlo Team

Adam Smelley | Project Manager

Kyncade Hardy | Superintendent

Nathan Wright | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Mike Souder | Field Safety Coordinator

Dragonberry Produce Expansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perlo Team

Jacob Leighter | Senior Project Manager

Steve Dusenberry | Superintendent

Philip Overbye | Foreman

Brooke Carswell | APM

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

Final Thoughts

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

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

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


Bay Area Hospital Pharmacy Renovation

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

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

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

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

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

Perlo Team

Thomas Quesenberry | Project Director

Taylor Regier | Project Manager

Christian Rohr | Superintendent

Brooke Carswell | APM

DSW3 Burlington

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

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

The Perlo work crews self-performed the following scopes:

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

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

Perlo Team

Thomas Quesenberry | Project Director

Jacob Leighter | Senior Project Manager

Joshua Swake | Project Manager

Mike Norris | Superintendent

Lance Livingston | Superintendent

Regan Cloudy | Project Engineer

McKayla Marshall | APM

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

Block 10 Tenant Improvement

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

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

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

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

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

Perlo Team

Jeff Hankins | Senior Manager, SPG

Kory Stark | Superintendent

Brent Schmitz | Superintendent

Ted Hill | Superintendent

Kathy Ohannessian | APM

Jadyn Bentley | Admin Assistant

Evelyn Moran | Admin Assistant

Ridgefield Industrial Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perlo Team

Chris McInroe | Project Director

Drew Carter | Senior Project Manager

Nate Brown | Project Manager

George Trice | Superintendent

Cy Whitmore | Foreman

Crystal Bentley | APM

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

It’s our people.

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

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

Thank you!

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


Protecting Building Materials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schedule Risks

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

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

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

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

Earthwork Risks, Erosion Control & Dewatering

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

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

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

Worker Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Current Market Challenges

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

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

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

Hard Bidding vs. Negotiation

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

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

Target Value Design: Achieving budget alignment with design intent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keys to Effectively Negotiating Projects

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

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

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

Constructability Reviews

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

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

These reviews may include the evaluation of:

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unique Features

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

Safety and Logistics During Tilt-Up Construction

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

Lessons Learned with Insulation Tilt Panels 

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

Project Challenges 

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

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

Site Tour

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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


LEVI

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

PEYTON

College
Washington State University

Major
Construction Management


RILEY

College
Central Washington University

Major
Construction Management

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

SPENCER

College
Seattle University

Major
Civil Engineering


ZACH

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

ARIA

College
University of Arizona

Major
Construction Engineering Management


CADEN

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

CONNOR

College
Oregon State University

Major
Mechanical Engineering


JIMMY

College
Oregon State University

Major
Construction Engineering Management

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

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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


The AutoStore System

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

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

Floor Flatness and Floor Levelness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taylor Regier
Project Manager

Construction Challenges and Schedule

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

Weather challenges:

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

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

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

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

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

Louis Fontenot
Trammell Crow Company

Materials Lead Times

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

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

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

Underground Clay Tile Drainage

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

Final Thoughts

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

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


What is concrete?

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

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

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

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

The Science of Concrete

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

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

Aggregates (sand and gravel)
60 – 75 %

Water
15 – 20%

Cement
10 – 15%

Entrained Air
5 – 8%

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

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

Concrete Placement Types

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

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

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

What are the standards for quality of concrete?

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

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

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

The Art of Concrete

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

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

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

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

Engineering consultant: providing subgrade and reinforcing design

Geotechnical engineer: verifying grades and compaction of subgrade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concrete over Time

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

Damaged control joint
Repaired control joint

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

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

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


What is Energy Trust of Oregon?

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

How Does it Work?

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

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

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

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

What Projects Qualify?

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

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

Case Study Example

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

Final Thoughts

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

For more information about Energy Trust and the New Buildings program, visit www.energytrust.org/newbuildings.

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

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

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

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

History

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

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

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

General Overview

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

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

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

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

Benefits of The Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund

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

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

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

What Metrics Are Important to Succeed?

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

Final Thoughts

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

Looking for more information on the Schweiger Memorial Scholarship Fund? Be sure to visit Advanced American Construction at https://www.advanced-american.com/scholarship/

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

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

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

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


Contractor Responsibilities for Constructability Reviews

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

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

Additionally, these reviews may include the evaluation of:

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

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

How is Constructability Communicated?

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

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

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

Is Constructability an Art or a Science?

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

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

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

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

The Key to Constructability

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most common methods for project delivery include:

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

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


Design-Bid-Build

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

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

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

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

Design-Build

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

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

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

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

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

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

Construction Manager At Risk (CM/GC)

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

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

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

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

Progressive Design-Bid-Build

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

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

Integrated Project Delivery

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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


Defining Onsite Impacts vs. Offsite Impacts 

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

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

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

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

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

Mitigation Strategies

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

1. Site Logistics

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

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

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

2. Special Building Features

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

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

3. Using Landscaping to Your Advantage

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

Soft landscaping is a term used to “describe the process of working with natural materials and other landscape elements that do not involve construction.” These elements often include turf, trees, hedges, shrubs, and other natural landscaping features, and can serve to increase biodiversity, create a habitat for wildlife to rely on, and minimize erosion. Additionally, grasses, shrubs, and trees are immensely effective at converting CO2 to oxygen, lessening the impact of emissions on construction sites.

Trees also have the ability to stabilize ground conditions with their root systems and provide shade for wildlife, on top of acting as a “sponge” to absorb groundwater and slow the movement of rainwater. This is a major reason why many construction sites require that trees and their roots aren’t disturbed during building.

4. Develop Designated Animal Crossing Routes

One way to preserve wildlife is by utilizing barriers along curbs, which can help small animals avoid falling in sewer grates, provide a hiding spot from high-traffic areas, and allow them to continue their path safely and without disturbance.

Many animals migrate long distances and must cross dangerous roadways. One study even shows that roads affect roughly 20% of the land area in the United States. With subsequent construction such as building or expanding roadways, creating a clear path to safety for wildlife is essential, especially in areas where wildlife is less accustomed to traffic. “In the United States alone, these collisions were estimated to cause 211 human fatalities, 29,000 human injuries and over $1 billion in property damage annually,” says the US Department of Transportation.

5. LEED Certification and Using Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is defined as “energy produced from sources like the sun and wind that are naturally replenished and do not run out.” Using renewable energy reduces a number of threats to the environment, from avoiding toxic wastewater to minimizing waste onsite by salvaging building materials.

Many projects now strive for LEED certification, a distinction gained by maintaining open spaces and protecting natural habitat, building structures that minimize or eliminate harmful chemicals for users of the building, providing access to fresh air and natural light, and more. One large factor in receiving LEED certification is reducing light pollution. Whether aimed to illuminate a façade or reflected off a surface, light can greatly affect wildlife such as sea turtles, which are impacted by the artificial “glow”. Solutions to this issue vary by project, but generally include creating a “shield” to block the light, eliminating fixtures with little or no glare control, and eliminating unnecessary light fixtures.

Final Thoughts

With careful planning and innovative building strategies, construction can allow wildlife and humans to coexist peacefully. As the construction industry continues to grow, it is important to take steps toward reducing the impact that construction has on wildlife, their habitats, and the environment as a whole.

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

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

Welcome back to Episode 8 of the Perlo Podcast! Podcast host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Devin Koopman, Vice President of Construction, and Joe York, General Superintendent. In today’s podcast, we’re going to explore site logistics in construction, which are a critical piece of the planning and execution of construction sites.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Devin Koopman
Vice President of Construction Services
Joe York
General Superintendent

What are Site Logistics

Site logistics can be thought of as the foundation that sets up an efficient and safe construction site while making the process easy and keeping the project on schedule. It involves factors such as:

  • How crews move around the site
  • Where materials are stored
  • Where signage should be located
  • How traffic and equipment can efficiently move in and out of the site
  • How to keep crews and visitors safe
  • Where to locate job trailers

Devin notes that schedule logistics are rarely shown in the drawings and often don’t get as much attention as they require. It is critical to be proactive and consider all items of a project when planning site logistics. Preconstruction efforts are the “recipe” for an effective project. When preconstruction takes place, we look at the current plan and drawings for the current site logistics and try to understand what the end result will be. Logistics range from job to job and are a huge factor in a successful project outcome.

When considering the current climate of supply chain issues and long lead times, it may be necessary to procure materials early. In this case, project teams must be able to purchase or lease extra land offsite to hold materials. Joe explains that our teams have had to get creative and think outside of the box to find additional storage area for materials.

Elissa adds that having space for materials shortage has become a much bigger factor in today’s day and age, as companies aren’t able to get “just-in-time” delivery if they want to guarantee that they will receive the materials on time.

“The fact is that there aren’t as many large lots for people to develop anymore,” remarks Joe. He elaborates that because of this, it can be difficult to find space to lay down materials, park trucks and trailers, and actually build the building. According to Joe, “if you can’t get a neighboring property to make your footprint larger for the build, you’ve got to get creative.” Planning ahead for these aspects of a project gives teams more opportunity to be innovative when utilizing space and being proactive when addressing potential issues.

How Do We Use Site Logistics to Create Efficiencies on Jobsites?

Devin uses an example about concrete to answer this question, noting that here at Perlo, “we like to pour concrete, and we like to pour a lot of it.” He goes on to explain that often times, our teams conduct concrete pours at 2AM to maximize efficiencies. Early morning pours are great, according to Joe, because there is no traffic and the concrete gets poured before the weather gets too hot in the summertime. When there are anywhere from 50-70 trucks expected to come and go from your project with concrete at a dark hour, site logistics become that much more important. Factors to be considered can range from how to get the trucks in and out to where the pump trucks need to be staged and even accommodating for residential neighborhood time restrictions. “Time is money, so you need to get them in and off your site as quickly as possible,” explains Devin.

One way to accomplish this is with directional signage, especially when dealing with third-party companies that may not be as familiar with the site as the project team. Elissa adds that a big part of site logistics includes the process during emergencies. It is crucial, and even lifesaving, to ensure that emergency vehicles have proper access to and from the site, with clear access routes and individuals available to wave them down.

Joe agrees, and remarks that orientation of a project always includes information on where crews should meet in the case of emergency, where emergency vehicles can access the site, and other important logistics.

How Do Jurisdictions Affect Site Logistics Plans?

Between jurisdictions ranging from federal, state, county, city, and even local neighborhood associations, site logistics plans can vary astronomically. One of the biggest variances is in regard to permitting. Certain jurisdictions may not inspect the same items that project teams are accustomed to in the Portland Metro Area. There is often a steep learning curve to understand what a specific jurisdiction requires and what works on a given site.

Joe gives an example of a project in Eureka, California, that restricted the altering of any land with a specific “weed of interest”. On a similar project in Sacramento, California, crews had to get trained up on how to deal with protected animals on the jobsite, such as lizards. And on another project, teams even dealt with planning around migrating turtles. These examples just go to show that there are factors that simply can’t be planned until you understand the geographical area that your jobsite is on, and enforces why project teams need to stay on their toes and keep an open mind and backup plan handy.

“What makes sense on day one might not make sense on day 60.”

Do Site Logistics Plans Change Throughout the Project?

According to Devin, site logistics can be like a football game. To have a successful site logistics plan, you need to “call audibles”. Calling an audible in football refers to when the play is changed at the line of scrimmage by yelling out a new play. “The fact that you may be digging a utility trench for the electrician on the same day as your concrete pour means you’ve really got to roll with the punches.” explains Devin.

Manpower Loading and Site Logistics

We quickly backtrack to site efficiencies, specifically related to trailer placement, crew parking, access to the building, and how all of those factors tie into crew efficiencies. Joe notes that it all ties back to working the job backward. When thinking about tenant improvements, the ability to find milestones in the schedule and make a plan of logistical attack can help avoid stacking trades on top of one another and creates ease of scheduling subcontractors.

Although site logistics may have gotten more complicated with COVID-19, Joe remarks, “I think it gave us insight on how we can do better.”

Final Thoughts

Site logistics in construction are critical to a successful construction project and an enjoyable experience. There is a fine balance between preplanning, being proactive, and adapting on the fly, and site logistics give you the best opportunity to do just that. A big thank you to Joe York and Devin Koopman for their insight on today’s topic! Make sure to subscribe to The Perlo Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

The construction industry continues to be a huge source of high-wage jobs with over 10 million employees in the US alone. Careers in construction offer stability, room for advancement, and opportunities to work with new technology, among other benefits. With avenues comprising of both traditional and non-traditional jobs, the construction industry is growing and vibrant. The pathway to the construction field is not a “one-stop shop”. There are many different routes an individual can take to find success in this industry, from higher education programs and apprenticeships to falling into the industry unexpectedly. Today, we’re going to take a look at the different career paths to success in the construction field and hear from Bonnie Pillster, Subcontractor Relations Manager and Insurance Coordinator at Perlo Construction, about her path to success.


Opportunities in Construction

There are many different opportunities to advance within the construction industry, with a given business organization employing a wide ranging of positions from support staff and union laborers/craftspeople to upper management and potentially ownership.

As we outlined in our blog regarding finding purpose at work, a unique aspect of construction is that individuals with a variety of skillsets can be involved. A single general contracting firm like Perlo, for instance, employs many positions, which range from entry level to highly educated, such as:

  • Site Supervision
  • Carpentry
  • Warehouse Management
  • Site Superintendent
  • Laborer
  • Legal/Risk Management
  • Safety Management
  • Human Resources

Pathways to the Construction Field

While pathways can vary depending on the individual, we typically see people finding the construction industry through trade apprenticeships, higher education programs related to Engineering or Construction Engineering Management (CEM) or other management studies, and even by accident. For example, Bonnie describes her path to the construction field as something she fell into.

“I got into construction because my dad was in construction. I moved to Oregon to spend the summer with him, and he got me a job doing material procurement as a laborer in the labor union. Long story short, I never left.”

With the different sectors in the construction industry (residential housing construction, specialized industrial construction, institutional and commercial building, and infrastructure/heavy construction), it is no wonder that the possibilities are endless, and, that the avenues to get there are, too. Below are a few of the more common pathways to the success in the construction field:

Apprenticeships

A degree isn’t necessary or required for many roles in construction. Apprenticeships are great opportunities for those over the age of 16 that are looking for direct experience in the trades. Apprenticeships typically last between 1-4 years and consist of about 20% of your time in school and the other 80% on the job (while getting paid and receiving mentorship from an expert). This is a great alternative to higher education paths and provides a hands-on learning environment and certification as tradesperson.

There are also studies being done that show that union apprenticeships provide a more diverse construction industry, “showing not only do unions train more than 70% of all apprentices, but union apprenticeship programs were also significantly more diverse, and had much higher graduation rates for women and workers of color. Union apprenticeship programs were also far more successful placing workers into higher-paying jobs within the construction industry.”

Higher Education

The higher education pathway is one that has become increasingly popular with institutions putting a more significant focus on preparing students for in-demand careers, including those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). This option is typically chosen by those who want to go into management in the construction industry. Degree programs such as Construction Engineering Management (CEM) and Construction Technology are great options for those who want to advance in their careers. However, with the construction industry growing and many different job sectors becoming accessible, we are also seeing an influx of individuals with backgrounds in architecture, accounting, marketing/general business, and more.

Progress Up the Hierarchy

Reports show that the majority of people who are entering the construction industry are those who want to be there and see a future in their work. Progressing up the hierarchy is a common pathway to success in the industry for those who aren’t afraid of being flexible and putting in the work. Bonnie explains that she never considered specific paths in the industry, because the environment was changing so constantly that new opportunities were always opening up.

“After my first job doing material procurement, I was asked to be an escort driver at Portland International Airport. This meant I was responsible for escorting in subcontractors, deliveries, and other personnel down the airway to the airplanes. I later became an office manager at another PNW-based general contractor, which allowed me to come out of the field and become a salaried employee in the office,” says Bonnie.

“From there, I was asked to join the purchasing department where I would issue contracts, work with insurance, and oversee CCIP and OCIP. I then found myself at Perlo Construction, where I was asked by Devin Koopman, Perlo’s Vice President of Construction, “if there was one job you could create for yourself, what would it be?” I created the Subcontractor Relations Manager role at Perlo, before seeing a need in the insurance department and transitioning to where I am now.”

Important Skills to Progress in Construction

No matter which pathway you take into the construction industry, there are a few key skills that will lead you to success in your chosen field.

Communication

Succeeding in a construction career, let alone any career, requires a knack for communicating with your team members, clients, suppliers, leaders, and more. When we asked Bonnie what the most crucial skill to succeed in a construction career is, the answer was none other than “communication”.

“One of the things I liked when I first started in the labor union was going from project to project and constantly meeting new people. While being in the office is a bit different, I still enjoy communicating with different teams, departments, and projects,” remarks Bonnie.

Flexibility and openness to new ideas

Technology and demand in the construction industry are changing at exponential rates, so it is important to be flexible and adapt to different environments and needs.

“Be open to opportunities in different roles, because you never know where you might land,” suggests Bonnie. “Especially in an ever-changing environment, it’s important to be a universal employee.”

Problem-solving

There are many different problems that can arise on a given construction project, such as weather delays, supply chain material shortages, theft in construction, and more. These problems require individuals who can use critical thinking skills to solve problems in unpredictable situations.

Final Thoughts

We would like to thank Bonnie Pillster for her time and for sharing her experience. Considering a career in construction? Make sure to check out our Careers page or contact us today!

Across Washington and Oregon, measures for erosion control are high priorities for local, state and federal governments. Construction sites over one-acre are required to inspect these measures through an individual known as a Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead (CESCL). Dictated by the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), as well as the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), stormwater inspections and sampling at construction sites are required to be completed and logged regularly.

In a previous post, we discussed dewatering, one of the many facets of erosion control and stormwater management that involves removing ground or surface water from a given location. The systems in place for the various dewatering methods must be monitored, tested and data logged by the onsite CESCL inspector to ensure that water is treated and redistributed correctly.


What is Erosion Control?

To define erosion control, we must first identify what erosion is. Erosion occurs naturally in the environment when materials such as soil, rocks and sediment are worn away and/or transported over time, typically by naturally occurring phenomenon such as wind, rain, or flowing water. Erosion can be sped up by human interactions, particularly during construction projects, logging, or clearing of vegetation for practices such as farming. Fast-paced soil erosion reduces the quality of soils and can transport debris, contaminants and pollutants into local waterways, streams and rivers. Additionally, soil erosion can lead to topsoil reduction and limit the land’s ability to produce crops.

Another common form of erosion is water erosion, such as during times of snowmelt, flash floods and large rainstorms. Large volumes of water runoff can decimate topsoil in fields, cause landslides and more. In construction, we work hard to control erosion as we disrupt the earth for new structures. The process of removing vegetation destabilizes soil in such a way that without erosion controls, sites can experience significant erosion and other complications that impact neighboring sites and waterways.

Erosion control is the method used to prevent soils and sediment from leaving the construction site. Methods of erosion control include man-made barriers and/or structures, land management techniques, plantings and dewatering strategies.

What Methods Help with Erosion Control?

To meet the DOE and DEQ standards, preventing the transfer of soils and sediments to neighboring properties during construction is critical. Site supervisors must prevent soil and sediment from leaving the site, and control water runoff to do so. 

Some methods of preventing erosion include:

Vegetation
Plant vegetation on exposed soils helps develop roots to prevent soils from moving.

Plastic Sheeting
Install plastic sheeting on exposed soils to prevent water from accessing the surface and dislocating soils.

Matting
Use matting materials, such as woven or sandwich type fabrics, on top of soils to slow down the movement of soils if water or wind is present.

Sediment Fencing
Install sediment fencing, a barrier generally made of a plastic material, to stop material from flowing off the site.

Rough Seeding
Install grass seed on exposed soil to create a natural buffer from eroded materials once germinated.

In addition, controlling the flow of water onsite through proper dewatering methods is a crucial component of erosion control. Recent updates to the Erosion control requirements by DEQ and DOE have severely limited the amount and type of water that can leave a site, so proper onsite water management is crucial for a successful construction project.

What is Turbidity Monitoring?

Turbidity is “the measure of relative clarity of a liquid”. In other words, the turbidity of a liquid describes how clear or cloudy it is. Water with cloudiness, or high turbidity, can raise concerns about health, as the debris in the water can house diseases and, while not always the case, studies show strong links between the removal of high turbidity with lowering protozoa.

Runoff, whether upstream or downstream from a construction site, is a common problem for turbidity levels and must be tested to meet acceptable levels before being released offsite. The allowable turbidity of water runoff is equivalent to a 10% increase from the existing turbidity of the waterway that will intercept the runoff. Due to the ever-changing weather and environmental patterns in the northwest, turbidity tests must be completed often as the receiving waterway will have fluctuating turbidity levels. If turbidity is found to be too high, it’s critical to adjust erosion control measures until acceptable levels have been reached. The regulating erosion control party (DEQ or DOE) has the ability to shut down a construction project if the turbidity of water runoff is too high, so it is imperative to keep a close eye on all construction waters.

Onsite Erosion and Sediment Control Planning

Contractors preparing to work must have an approved Erosion and Sediment Control Plan approved by the appropriate state agencies prior to beginning construction. The State of Oregon requires a 1200C permit be in place, which includes the erosion control plans put in place for each specific site.  

In addition, both Oregon and Washington require the presence of an individual who is a Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead, who will be responsible for stormwater inspections and sampling. These certifications, once achieved, are good for three years. The onsite CESCL is responsible for logging findings, updating plans for erosion and sediment control as the site is modified, and enforcing proper protocols as construction proceeds.

Approved Erosion and Sediment Control plans will include, at minimum, the following details:

  • Existing site boundaries
  • Building layout and site plan
  • All site water discharge points and related protective methods
  • Erosion control BMPs (best practice methods) including silt fencing installation, material berming, stray wattles, inlet protection, site entrance, etc.
  • Any added or updated BMPs for site erosion control

The Approved Erosion Control and Sediment Plans are to be treated as a living document onsite. Depending on the jurisdiction, an updated plan must be submitted for formal approval each time an adjustment is made. Should a DEQ or DOE inspector visit your site, an up-to-date Approved Erosion and Sediment Control plan is required. If individual contractors do not have in-house CESCL experts, they can hire third-party companies to complete this service for them. General contractors or excavators often have in-house CESCL experts available, and the individual responsible for each site should be discussed ahead of mobilization.

Final Thoughts

Erosion and sediment control management is a complicated topic that, while simplified for the purposes of this article, requires diligence and planning to properly execute. It’s important that contractors review local, state and federal guidelines for stormwater management, erosion, and sediment control measures, as well as how to comply with each jurisdiction’s requirements. The consequences of failing to comply with these regulations can be severe, including fines, delays in permit issuance and more.

If you’re planning to pursue a large building project, talk with our teams about the best ways to ensure compliance with these regulations.

The Pacific Northwest has experienced multiple heatwaves during the summer of 2021. This year, the soaring temperatures are once again highlighting the need to prioritize awareness of heat exposure related illnesses, heat safety in construction as well as strategies to keep workers safe in these conditions.

In July of 2021, Oregon OSHA enacted an emergency rule to require employers to take precautions for workers during high temperatures. Utilizing the heat index and tiered levels of regulation, the basic idea is to provide shade and water at regular intervals to keep workers hydrated and healthy as temperatures rise.

In addition to these rules, Perlo has been utilizing a variety of strategies to minimize heat exposure and maintain worker safety in all aspects of our jobsites. Today we’ll explore more about OSHA’s new rules as well as strategies to minimize the risk of heat related illnesses on our sites.   


The Heat Index

According to the National Weather Service, The heat index is ‘what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature’. To determine the heat index, the temperature and relative humidity must both be accounted for. In higher humidity environments, the relative temperature will feel hotter than in low humidity environments.

Heat index chart from the National Weather Service

Critical to note is that the heat index is based on temperatures in shady locations, which means that workers in direct sunlight can experience an increase of the heat index value by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re inclined to do manual calculations to determine the heat index, the National Weather Service provides the Heat Index Equation on their website, although most weather apps will identify this.

OSHA Oregon Temporary Rules

The full documentation outlining OSHA Oregon’s new temporary rules are available on their website. In summary, the rules apply when the heat index temperature reaches or exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the regulations increase at each 10-degree interval.

At a heat index temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, employers must supply access to shade and a supply of drinking water.

At a heat index temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, employers must also establish the following:

  • Effective communication channels between employees and employers for reporting purposes.
  • Observation of employees for signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses.
  • Cool-down rest periods in the shade of 10 minutes in length for every two hours of work.
  • Development of an emergency medical plan and practices to help employees gradually adapt to the rising temperatures.

Additionally, employers must provide specific training to each employee about the risks of heat related illnesses, the responsibilities of employers related to heat exposure, and general education on personal risks that may exacerbate heat related illnesses, such as medications, obesity, alcohol, etc.

The new rules outline clear descriptions of shade and the expectations regarding the quantity, cleanliness and temperature of available water supplies for workers.

Heat Related Illnesses

There are a variety of heat related illnesses that an individual may succumb to. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlines these clearly on their website. They can include:

Heat Stroke
The most serious heat related illness, which occurs when the body can no longer regulate its own body temperature. Extreme fevers up to 106 degrees Fahrenheit can be reached in as little as 10 – 15 minutes time, and heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability without immediate and proper treatment.

Heat stroke symptoms may include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Death

Heat Exhaustion
Typically triggered by excessive sweating and therefore the loss of water and salt in the body, heat exhaustion is most often suffered by the elderly, those with high blood pressure, and people working in hot environments.

Heat exhaustion symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Decreased urine output

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 this summer’s heatwaves. 

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

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

Welcome back to Episode Seven of the Perlo Podcast! Podcast host Elissa Looney, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Perlo Construction, is joined by Superintendent George Trice and Project Manager Nate Brown, two members of the project team for one of Perlo’s current projects in Ridgefield, Washington.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Nate Brown
Project Manager
George Trice
Superintendent

Overview of Ridgefield Industrial

Ridgefield Industrial is a 480,000 SF core and shell concrete tilt-up warehouse on a 50-acre site being built for Specht. Project teams are about three-quarters of the way through the project, with the total duration spanning about eleven months.

George Trice, Project Superintendent at Perlo Construction, explains that the walls have already been tilted and the roof is about 70% completed. In this specific project, project teams are waiting to pour the truck loading docks until the last minute to allow time for a potential tenant to come in, as they are hoping to do some tenant improvements later on. The team is currently ahead of schedule, and they expect to finish the project a month ahead of schedule.

George explains that although they are now expecting to finish the project a month early, this wasn’t always the case. Times were tougher over the winter, but the crews were able to tackle a few critical items early, such as the truck aprons, that pushed the project schedule ahead.

Nate Brown, one of Perlo’s Project Mangers, states that he’s learned quite a bit since being out on the site. As a visual learner, being on the site in person a few days a week to see what’s going on has allowed him to learn exponentially about building in commercial construction.

General Process of Concrete Tilt-ups

The process for concrete tilt-ups is generally straight-forward. From stripping the site and concrete-treating the soil to digging footings for the slab, the end goal is the have the panels come off the ground when it is time to tilt. One unique factor of concrete tilt-ups is that you don’t run the slab where the wall is going to be. As panels tilt up and sit on footings, there is about a 10-foot gap between the wall and the slab. Once the roof is tied in, project teams start backfilling and do a pour-strip around the building. This is critical, as both the rebar that is coming out of your panels and the roof system all have to tie into the slab perfectly.

Site Challenges

George and Nate explain that the biggest challenge on this site was the rain. Every pour that the team conducted was followed by rain, which meant that bond breaker couldn’t be added to the slab. Bond breaker is what keeps the newly poured panel layers from sticking to the slab and is a necessity for panel tilts. The project team and field crews had to take a more innovative route to solve this problem by working over the weekend when the weather was nicer to get as much water off the panels as possible.  

Final Thoughts

Like what you hear? Check out the full podcast to see a tour of this in-progress project!

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what may be one’s aim.”

John D. Rockefeller

Conversations across the globe are concentrated on what work looks like post-pandemic, with the ‘Great Resignation’ being a pattern that employers are grappling with and adapting to. While there are several reasons for this mass exodus, one of them is that individuals are seeking purpose in their work and are willing to leave their roles if they can find something they believe will be more fulfilling. Today, we’re taking a closer look at what brings purpose to the lives of those that work in the construction industry and at Perlo.


What is Purpose?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, purpose is:

noun
the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists; a person’s sense of resolve or determination

verb
have as one’s intention or objective

From simply finding job security, to becoming an expert at a trade, to serving a bigger mission in life, finding purpose at work can mean many different things to different people. To find meaning in everyday work, it is crucial to find a connection between the daily activities that provide a paycheck and the motivation that transforms a job into an experience that fulfills your needs. With such a diverse range of crafts and passions involved in a single company, it only makes sense that every individual has a different idea of what purpose is to them and how they find it at work. We asked our employees at Perlo what they find fulfilling about their work, and although purpose is different from person to person, we received a variety of answers that generally fell into the following categories:

  • There are continuous learning opportunities.
  • There’s a physical contribution to the community.
  • It provides a great income for families and desired lifestyles.
  • The relationships and team atmosphere are rewarding.

Purpose in Construction

One unique aspect of construction is that individuals with a variety of skillsets can be involved. A single general contracting firm like Perlo, for instance, employs many positions and skill sets, which range from entry level to highly educated, such as:

Payroll and Accounting
Secretarial work
IT
Human Resources
Project Management

Executive Management
Marketing
Estimating & Budgeting
Site Supervision
Carpentry

Warehouse Management
Site Superintendent
Laborer
Legal/Risk Management
Safety Management

In the tight labor market the United States is currently facing, individuals have more autonomy over their employment opportunities than ever before. Regardless of skillset and interest, there’s a place for nearly everyone within our industry. However, retaining employees often hinges on them feeling like their contributions matter. Finding purpose, motivation, and drive at work has a range of benefits. Employees who understand their job’s bigger purpose tend to be more engaged, creative, and happier overall. This employee satisfaction results in a more effective company by increasing productivity and decreasing turnover.

Purpose at Perlo Construction

While considering this topic, we got some valuable insight by talking to Perlo’s employees about what they enjoy in their work. While it might surprise you, this isn’t always an easy question to answer. However, we received many answers that are a testament to the purpose our people find here at Perlo. Below you’ll find an array of the answers we received when asking where our employees find purpose in their work:

“I like building interesting things. And my work is different from day to day, so I don’t get bored.”

“I like that I can see something start from nothing and develop it into a finished product. There’s a clear measurement of success.”

“I like making our clients happy. If someone comes back, that’s the ultimate goal.”

“I find purpose in talking to people. This job involves a high level of communication and many other engineering careers don’t involve that level of communication.”

“I like a challenge. I like having problems to solve and the sense of completion that occurs when you do. And it’s great in our world that the problems are visual. You can see what you had a hand in building vs. other more non-tangible careers. I know I’m going to get to the other side, so that keeps me going.”

“I love the constant variety and getting to meet new and exciting people. It brings a sense of accomplishment to work with a team with different strengths and backgrounds to make visions come to life.”

“This field is a great way to support a family. It allows me to live a lifestyle that I appreciate. That’s what drives me. If I can walk away each day knowing I did everything I could to help our company and therefore the future of my job – that I helped with that process, there’s fulfillment there.”

“It’s fun to see people grow up. I’ve been here for so long and watched so many people grow and develop their own families and traditions. It’s fun to see that progression and families growing. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.”

“There’s a lot I like. The productivity is fulfilling. Being social is fulfilling. Coming in, working hard, and having the social aspect at work is enjoyable.”

“I like having others that depend on me. When I was carpenter, I liked building things, but as a supervisor, I enjoy being able to lead and help solve problems with others.”

“You’re improving the community, especially with projects like schools and medical facilities. It’s amazing to see the interconnection between businesses. For instance, a company like Intel spurs many other businesses to build here, so even if we don’t build for them, we support many other businesses that support them. Everyone needs construction, so I like feeling like we’re making a difference for other people.”

“In the healthcare sector, it’s changing people’s lives, and I saw that first hand because my mom worked in healthcare. The end result keeps me going.”

“It’s a fun journey even though it is also hard. We work so closely with many people, solving challenging problems every day. We can disagree and still be friends at the end of the day. If this job were easy, I wouldn’t be interested in it.”

“I like making people happy and receiving verbal appreciation. I like hitting a milestone and doing what we say we’re going to do.

“I like competing for projects and winning the work. I’m pretty competitive, so the challenge of winning work and then impressing the owner so much that they come back keeps me going.”

“Construction is physical – you can see what is being built, so it’s tangible. It’s also challenging. There’s a sense of satisfaction that you made that hard thing a reality.”

“Sometimes my job is like gambling when we’re trying to win work. It’s the process and knowing you were a part of the project.”

“I like the people, the projects, and the clients. It’s fun to see the community change for the better.”

“This job isn’t always easy, but it’s comfortable. I have great relationships with the people I work with and I know where I’ll be until I’ll retire. There’s comfort in that.”

“I like working for a company that has my back. That when times are challenging, they will do everything to keep people working and do their best to make you feel secure”

Final Thoughts

We are proud that so many at Perlo find great purpose in their work. As a company, we value our people and their contributions to the built environment.

Our passion is to build great projects for our clients and the people who will use them, and that means cultivating great employees with a thirst for the work. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in construction, check out our Careers page or Contact Us today!

The Fourth of July is right around the corner! As the first holiday of the summer season, many people can be found celebrating with backyard barbecues, fireworks, or water fun.

A federal holiday since 1870 and paid federal holiday since 1941, celebrations date back to the American Revolution and July 4th, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed. This is a day to unite as an independent country and celebrate with family and friends. Perlo will be observing the 4th of July Holiday and our offices and jobsites will be closed. We’d like to take this time to wish you all a happy and safe holiday with some tips to keep your families and communities protected as we celebrate.


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
Drew Carter
Senior Project Manager
Stephen Alger
Senior Project Manager
John Tompkins
Project Superintendent

What are Some of the Factors That Go Into Planning Summer Projects?

Education projects often take place in the summer, when students are no longer in school. During the shortened summer construction season, we often see remodel projects that include anything from re-roofing upgrades and siding repairs to a “fluff and buff” on interior finishes. A lot of the time, these are projects that can’t be done while the campus is occupied when students are in school.

Drew notes that the biggest consideration when defining the scope and timeline to complete a project over the summer is, “Do we have enough time to actually do the work on the plans?” He remarks that although there is a lot that can get done in the summer months, it comes down getting on the campus early to look at the existing conditions and ensuring the construction documents are the same as what is actually on the ground.

John agrees, and adds, “The sooner you get into the building and get things opened up, the sooner you can get the District involved to figure out next steps.” This concept is something that the team learned first-hand, as John reminisces on one example where project teams opened a wall on a school project and discovered significant siding and structural issues that equated to about $100,000 worth of extra work.

Another option for project teams is to get into the building during a spring break or Christmas break period, which allows teams an early start to what they can tackle in terms of existing conditions, purchasing materials, getting a plan in place, and knowing who to contact. According to Stephen, the real key is what you can get done ahead of time, as “one week in advance is massive for a summer project when it is only 10 or 12 weeks long.”

” The safety part is really the toughest aspect on an occupied site when trying to make sure it accommodates the school and allows them to be operational.”

Construction Strategies When Spaces are Occupied

Elissa kicks off this topic by asking the team what changes in our strategies when a project can’t fit into a summer time frame and you must remodel a campus over the course of a school year. According to John, the biggest thing that changes is safety. “We know how to keep our workers safe, and we take it all seriously, but when it comes to having kids in your work area, it takes it to a whole other level,” he remarks. In one recent Perlo project, project teams put up barricades to cover demolition and used a material called ‘core ply’. Teachers ended up making murals on the material and, closer to the removal, Stephen came up with the idea of letting the kids in each class draw on it, as well. The goal for this innovative idea was to make the construction less intimidating for the students while still keeping them safe.

“The safety part is really the toughest aspect on an occupied site when trying to make sure it accommodates the school and allows them to be operational. The communication with the school to explain what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, what we need from them, and what they need from us is critical and is a challenge because of how many stakeholders we have,” explains Stephen.

With constantly changing expectations from the District, the general contractor, the school, the principal, and the facilities, there is always a constant struggle to find out who makes the final decisions.

What Makes K-12 Construction Different?

School buildings are constantly getting more sophisticated and complex. Each school has different bond objectives and requirements that come from funding sources, such as energy efficient or smart buildings, so there are many different systems in place that have to be cohesive. Elissa notes that it seems as though the districts have been working hard to standardize their processes for construction so that technology is centralized and processes are made more streamlined for future remodels.

Many schools are older buildings, so there are typically add-ons and renovations taking place. However, these are usually only done every 20 or 30 years, rather than more frequently. This means that improvements often haven’t been done for the duration of that time, and many facets of the building may be out of date or obsolete.

Building Schools to Stand the Test of Time

Schools must think about quality, as systems and materials must last 20 to 30 years. As a result, there is a bit more money spent upfront to make sure that the materials going into the buildings are high-quality, or else they won’t stand the test of hundreds of students every day. The goal is to make these buildings as flexible as possible, including taking innovative routes to make schools more secure and safe in the case of an unauthorized intruder.

Hard Bidding vs. Negotiating on K-12 Projects

At Perlo, w enjoy and encourage the CM/GC process. It allows for a stronger team aspect where everyone involved in the process is on board and there is ample time to look at everything upfront to make sure all facets of the project are correct.
From a school or community’s perspective, there are some advantages to a hard bid if it is a simple project. However, in the case of occupied schools, the CM/GC process has many more advantages, including:

  • Teams have the time to meet with the school to understand what their needs and challenges are.
  • There is an added benefit of project teams being able to do value engineering upfront, so the school doesn’t get blindsided by anything during construction.
  • There ends up being extra time and money to do more of what the stakeholders really want to do, such as painting the ceilings or adding tracks.

According to Drew, the communication piece is the biggest difference between a hard bid and a CM/GC process. If the team is involved early on and are attending coordination meetings with the users, design team, and facility maintenance, it is beneficial to hear what people’s needs are and what’s important to the different stakeholders to ensure the end result works for everyone and that project teams can deliver a high-quality project on time. If a CM/GC model is decided on and the contractor is brought on early, they are able to give advice on how to get the best value out of a project.

What You Need to Know About the Education Space

“These are always complicated projects. One of the items that is unique about schools is that often times there is a lot of emotions with the projects. Communities have ties to these buildings,” Drew states.

Drew also notes that these are complex projects with a lot of stakeholders. Overall, it can be more of a juggling act compared to a typical project. With a school, you’re working for the students, the staff, the custodial service, the District, and all of these different stakeholders that have ties to that building. It’s a constant juggle between making sure that everyone is heard but still being decisive and moving forward to get the project done.

Final Thoughts

Every school project is unique, with a different “recipe” for each. As focal points of the community, project teams must take innovative routes in order to deliver each project on time and on budget. Perlo is proud to contribute to our communities through our schools and understand the ever-evolving processes that make the end result so special.

Change Order
noun; plural change orders

Definition : a written alteration to a previously signed contract for work (as in construction)

What are Change Orders in Construction?

A change order in construction is a written alteration to a previously signed contract for work. In expanded terms, a change order is the documentation outlining the scope and cost for added or subtracted work to a specific construction project, which modifies the original contractual agreement to include the new terms of the work. Any given project may experience one or many change orders over time, determined by a variety of factors:

  • The complexity of the work
  • The state of construction documents when the work was bid
  • The procurement method
  • Changes in building use/tenancy

Change orders are an important piece of documentation for all parties in a given project, and they also tend to be thought of as a negative item because they often add costs to the work, though this is not always the case.

When is a Change Order Justified?

Contractors will submit a change order if the scope of the work adjusts after a price has been agreed to. The scope can change due to many things, including but not limited to:

Additional requirements from the local authority having jurisdiction (JHA).
For example: a project is priced prior to construction permits being issued. Once the permit is issued, the local JHA requires modifications to the plans that add cost to the work.

The building was designed as a speculative space.
The owner signs a lease with a tenant that now requires a tenant improvement build-out.

In an existing space, unknown factors become evident during demolition, such as:

  • Finding structurally significant walls or components
  • Discovering hazardous materials
  • Identifying undocumented utility piping

Drawings used to hard bid the work were incomplete or missing details.

The owner or design team dislikes a specified dimension or finished product and decides to make a change.

Boulders or soft soils are discovered on the site during excavation activities.

In short, there are a myriad of reasons that changes to the scope or cost may present themselves over time. Construction is inherently full of risks that may impact the cost of work and justify a change order.

reducing change orders
Often an unknown until site excavation begins, the presence of boulders can lead to significant change orders.

Reducing Change Orders in Construction Projects

The best way to reduce the number of change orders on a project is two-fold:

  • Negotiate the project with your general contractor and involve them in the preconstruction process.
  • Hire a competent designer to team with your GC to develop complete construction documents.

Engaging the entire design and construction team at the conception of a given project allows all parties to work cooperatively to achieve the end goal. A great preconstruction team can identify and reduce risks by anticipating and planning mitigation strategies for the work.

Some examples include:

Risks related to Site Work

Early investigative efforts through the use of a civil engineer, a geo-engineer, and an excavation company can provide insights into the site that will identify risks. While not all site complexities can be determined before digging begins, these experts should be able to calculate reasonable allowances to carry to account for them.

Risks related to Building Materials

In today’s climate of long lead times, materials delays and labor shortages, it’s critical to identify all needed items and the length of time that will be required to ensure they arrive on time. With a negotiated contract, the GC can be authorized to pre-order materials to arrive on time and avoid escalation and delays.

Risks related to Quality of Work

As discussed in this episode of The Perlo Podcast, picking the ‘lowest price’ bid isn’t always a good plan if high quality work is desired. Pre-qualifying the trade partner firms and involving them in the budgeting process helps ensure that the final product is exactly as expected.

Performance of Constructability Reviews to Reduce Risk

An important task in the preconstruction process is the completion of constructability reviews. Contractors can evaluate designs when they’re preliminary to identify cost, schedule and quality impacts and suggest alternatives if what is drawn isn’t ideal. These items can inform the design before it’s finalized and reduce costly re-designs.

Change orders can’t always be avoided. However, working with a high-quality and experienced construction team can reduce the quantity of them.

Reviewing Change Orders for Accuracy

Change orders are often unavoidable during construction for all the reasons discussed previously. When they occur, there a few things to keep in mind to ensure that the changes are complete, accurate and as cost effective as possible.

Verify that the scope is complete.
A good contractor will critically evaluate the scope that any trade partners include in the change to ensure that this change order won’t lead to another future change order.

Evaluate the costs included.
This may mean reviewing trade partner quotes, supplier quotes and the fees assigned to those. Change orders should be sent to the owner and design team with cost backup attached which explains the breakdown for how the costs were calculated.

Pre-negotiate the change order fees and insurance rates that are assigned to them.
Documenting these fees in the original construction contract manages expectations for mark-ups on changes.

Consider schedule impacts.
Often, changes in scope and work may change the end date. Change orders should always account for any added days that will be required to complete the work. Note that an extension of the project schedule will usually include additional general conditions costs.

A good contractor will know what is included in the change order and why. They will also have spent time reviewing the original contract documents to confirm that the added work, associated costs and schedule changes are justified.

Final Thoughts

While change orders may be unavoidable, establishing ground rules and using a team approach to evaluate each one of them can prevent the process from becoming contentious. Using strict review processes for each change with a critical eye for details will ensure that any changes are accurate as well as justified.

If you’re thinking of your next construction project and want to ensure that you have the best team on board, contact us today.

Construction is complex, with projects often requiring hundreds of team members, if not more. The stakeholders that have a say about the work, such as neighbors, end-users or the public, typically expect communication about what the project entails and how it will impact them.

As much as humans like to think that we are all great at communication, it is quite difficult to accurately correspond to all parties the complexities of the work involved on a given project. Today, we’ll discuss who needs information about projects and some of the ways to ensure that they receive it.

With good communication protocols in place, contractors and design teams can ensure all parties are informed about their projects. 


Who Needs Communications About Projects?

Many stakeholders need information about projects, including, but not limited to many of the parties directly involved in the work:

  • Building owners
  • Tenants
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Third-party consultants
  • Local jurisdiction
  • General contractor and/or construction manager
  • Subcontractors
  • Suppliers
  • Utility providers

In addition to these relatively ‘direct’ stakeholders, there are often many less directly involved people in a given project, which may include:

  • Neighboring building owners and tenants
  • Building end-users, such as students, staff, etc.
  • The public, in case of road closures, noise events, utility interruptions, etc.
  • Funding sources, including public dollars, banks, non-profit boards and donors, etc.

This second group of people can impact projects in a variety of ways and their feedback may come in the form of curiosity, support or protests. For instance:

In the case of public funding or donated dollars, individuals want to know that money is being spent responsibly.

Public or neighborhood groups may express concern related to disruptions to their neighborhoods due to noise, added traffic, the removal of open space or blocked views.

Neighbors may be interested in the work and would like to be informed about the process, desired outcomes or end-users.  

The means for communicating with each of these parties is often different and involves various methods and frequencies. Let’s take a closer look at communications strategies for these groups.

Communications Strategies for Direct Team Members

The most direct team members on a given project include the construction manager/general contractor, owner, and design teams, with subcontractors and suppliers needing extensive information and regular communications for third-party inspectors, jurisdictional entities and utility companies, as well.

Here are some of the most direct strategies used for communication in construction projects:

Design drawings & specifications

The drawings and specifications are the backbones of communication for project teams. These documents, which are now typically digital in lieu of printed, include all of the information that brings a vision to reality. These communicate dimensions, elevations, material types, structural details, quality control metrics, and more. They are not only the path forward but also a record of what was built and how.

Project schedules

Creating and distributing project schedules communicates who should be onsite and when. Maintaining their accuracy over time is critical for controlling expectations for all team members, including when to have materials and labor onsite, and deadlines for completion. 

Request for Information (RFI)  

RFI’s are a formal documentation process for clarifying construction details. Typically, a contractor (general or subcontractor) will pose a question to the design team and the response, with direction, is formalized via this process. Any changes are then built into the overarching project documentation.

Submittals

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.