Background. With both organizations tracing their roots back to the early 1900s, Masonic Village and Warfel Construction have a longstanding relationship based on numerous successful past projects. As Masonic Village continues to grow, they have looked for new and different ways to differentiate their community and better serve their residents. The Commandery Cottage development is among the first to offer specialty “age in place” upgrade features, allowing residents to chose to remain in their homes longer before moving into Masonic Village’s continuum of care.
Value Management. Our team performed “rolling” value management exercises at every budget update and between budget updates. This provided the client and community stakeholders with the lowest responsible price point for the project, and allowed the client to communicate funding needs to community members with the greatest accuracy. As the design team and owner prepared for selections of finishes that would be available to future residents, our team evaluated price points for each upgrade and recommended values that would allow Masonic Village to efficiently, yet cost-effectively, offer a variety of customizations to each future resident.
Site Logistics. Built on a more than 40 acre site, our project team encountered difficulties at the very beginning of the project, as 2’ of snow fell during the very first week. Combined with a very wet spring, getting the site ready for foundations and pads (depending on the unit type) was a challenging task! Located just off of a developed area of the campus, special care was necessary to assure that runoff from the site did not impact roadways, community parking, or a pool and koi pond located at the bottom of the project site. Additionally, the varied elevation throughout the site required extensive regrading, and our sitework contractor successfully cut and filled a more than 20’ elevation change. As residents moved into each of their completed cottages, construction traffic was routed through the site via alternate roads, providing for minimal disruption for the residents who purchased units with an earlier turnover date.
Virtual Design Modeler. Warfel’s proprietary Virtual Design Modeler (VDM) creates photo-like renderings of each room inside a cottage. VDM technology allowed future Masonic Village residents to select different options and upgrades, visualizing the finished room. VDM also tracked the corresponding price impact of each upgrade and how it related to the total cost of the unit. Upon completion of their interaction with VDM, the future residents were shown renderings of what every room in their home would look like, and the project team received a generated list of changes to incorporate from the “base” cottage model. This list was shared with all trades, and served as a clear checklist to assure that every resident received their requested customizations. As the first project to “test” Warfel’s VDM, the Masonic Village project has lead to internal improvements, allowing for faster adaptations and improved renderings for future projects.
Scheduling. Each Commandery Cottage was given a unique turnover date, allowing the future owners to move in as soon as their new homes were completed. However, the extensive customizations selected using the VDM throughout the project added a considerable amount of work to each cottage. To make sure that each turnover date was met, the Warfel project team and our trade partners worked extended hours, occasionally working up to 18-hour days if dictated by the schedule. Through aggressive scheduling and a large team of subcontractors, our team managed to hit every turnover deadline for each of the 72 units.
Safety. With 150-200 workers on the project site each day, maintaining a safe and controlled jobsite was of top importance. Throughout the project, two superintendents were on site to assure that safety regulations were followed to the letter. In addition to Warfel’s proactive safety staff and standard safety program (including weekly Toolbox Talks to ensure worker safety), Warfel’s safety team conducted monthly site visits to audit the project and assure that all workers were performing their work in a satisfactory and safe manner. Warfel’s stringent safety program exceeds OSHA standards in some measures, and Warfel safety staff and project management team ensured that subcontractors understood requirements to working on site. Warfel’s stringent Subcontractor Risk Management Program (SRMP) required additional daily, weekly, or monthly additional safety check-ins to ensure that any contractors with a weaker safety record had appropriate controls in place to maintain a safe work environment. Subcontractors who did not meet Warfel’s safety regulations were warned and cited by Warfel management accordingly.
Quality Control. As a standard practice at Warfel, a team member was assigned to photo document all of the work done at Masonic Village to assure that our guarantee of high-quality work was met by every subcontractor. All photos were uploaded into Warfel’s project management software. Subcontractors, the design team, and the owner were granted shared access to Warfel’s project management software, which expedited corrections, notifications of completed work, and any necessary follow up.
Smart Cottage Technology. While just one of the 72 units has been designated the official “Smart Cottage” of the development, each of the Commandery Cottages is equipped with K4Connect technology. In future, residents who wish to utilize the K4Box (the technology hub) can incorporate significant home automation into their daily lives. K4Connect’s current home automation features include automated blinds, lights, faucets and thermostat. Social connectivity features will include access to all forms of social media, family and friend connections, and the community’s portal. Most significantly for residents and their current or future caregivers, the K4Box supports home health features, which include a fitness tracker and sensors to monitor everything from how often residents open the refrigerator door to how often they get out of bed. Oven sensors make sure that the unit is not turned on and left running, and flood sensors can make sure no one left the water running. Refrigerator sensors can notify a caregiver if the unit is not opened for more than 24 hours, indicating that a resident might be ill. Residents control who has access to this health-monitoring information, which could prove invaluable for the health and security staff for their future safety.
Community Impact. The Commandery Cottage development at Masonic Village is changing the face of independent living in the senior care community. The new cottages built at Elizabethtown have been so successful that Masonic Village is currently building similar homes at their Sewickley, Pennsylvania campus. Homes in need of work on other Masonic Village campuses will also be getting upgrades to more closely represent the Elizabethtown models. Masonic Village’s approach to better serving seniors through the use of technology and “age in place” design, while still novel, has already been recognized at industry conferences across the country.