Fast Track Schedule and Long Lead-Time Items. Among the obstacles that this multi-phased renovation posed, the speed of the required schedule was the most difficult to overcome. In order to meet the owner’s expected completion date, the fast pace created challenges with the many long-lead time items including light fixtures, carpet, food service equipment, wall coverings, decorative ceilings, and automatic sliding doors. To keep the progress of the Bluebird project moving, expedited delivery was requested where available to help minimize the impact to the sequence of the work. Because expediting delivery was not an option in most circumstances, another strategy to circumvent delays was to jump ahead in the original sequence of the work and then return to finish the previous areas. Although this created some overlapping trade work, it proved an effective solution in keeping job progress moving. Communication and constant coordination with the trade-contractor team was key in maintaining this flip-flop schedule. In the case of the light fixtures and decorative ceilings which were ultra long-lead, temporary elements were installed until the correct items were available for installation. During demolition of an existing storage room that was to become part of the renovated bistro tray return area, it was realized that the entrance wall was load bearing. Upon discovery, Warfel suggested, and then installed a beam to carry the additional weight of the concrete plank on the floor above. Similarly, it was discovered during demolition and layout of the kitchen space that an existing column was in the middle of the new pantry walkway. The field team relocated this column so it would be hidden in the wall of the new pantry and added a new beam which extended from the column’s new location to the old location. The beam was spliced to the existing beam that was previously supported by the column. Warfel’s field crew made many of these ‘on-the-fly’ modifications (always with approval prior to work), in an effort to keep the schedule from straying off course. With great cooperation from our trade contractors, and some additional scheduled work hours, we were able to turn over to the owner as promised.
Existing MEP System. The ceiling above the Garden Café, which was to be completely upgraded and redesigned, was already crowded with existing MEP elements. As designed, installing additional MEP lines and equipment would have required us to lower the ceiling heights, which was not desired by the owner or the design team. It was determined that in areas where there was enough room, we shifted the existing MEP lines to create space for the new. In several areas, we had no alternative but to lower the ceiling areas to fit the new lines. We did our best to make these areas as minimal as possible and to most, the ceiling areas we lowered are not detectable. Again, not major work, but these small unexpected conflicts throughout with system elements put additional strain on the already condensed schedule.
Installing a new heat pump in the attic also required intensive collaboration between the mechanical contractor and the Warfel team. The attic was already jammed with existing mechanical equipment, and the specified heat pump was extremely large and heavy, making installation quite a challenge. In order to avoid running into other units, and ensure a clear path to its destination, Warfel suggested creating an opening in the wall to the attic for installation. The opening did not affect the building structurally, and it provided a clear, safe path for the installers to place the unit.
Complicated Design Features. Designed to include a variety of interesting architectural features, the renovated spaces included many custom elements that required intricate prepping and handiwork. The Bluebird dining room was designed with many angles and curved framework, including custom cloud ceilings (custom bent grids had to be designed and installed). Our field team measured and remeasured to ensure all of the curved elements would fit as intended, eliminating costly field rework if all elements did not fit as intended.
Occupied Building. Although renovations encompassed ‘common’ spaces such as the kitchen and dining areas, these were located literally in the middle of the Bluebird Wing. Therefore the construction activity was sandwiched between resident apartments. To assure their safety throughout the duration of work, Warfel erected temporary partitions (not minimal plastic sheeting, but hard partitions) to maintain a safe, durable separations. Warfel’s Superintendent maintained constant, at times hourly, communication with the Woodcrest staff to coordinate their activities with the ongoing construction work. Although most activities were scheduled weekly, we had to be aware of special events to make sure our ongoing work would not affect their resident activities.
Special attention was given to logistics and how to best phase the work, allowing Woodcrest to maintain operations with minimal disruption. A comprehensive schedule with numerous mini-phases (within the larger three phases) was created detailing each aspect of work within each area. Especially disruptive work was performed only with notice and scheduled when most convenient for Woodcrest. For example, night hours were scheduled for much of the plumbing installation and refrigeration piping in the food service areas so resident meal times would not be disrupted.
Customer Service. We made every effort to go above and beyond the expectations of our client. If an event was scheduled at the campus, we scheduled construction around it or halted activities if needed. Prior to construction, our team made a presentation to the residents. We explained what areas would be renovated and how the project would be phased. We discussed circulation and assured them that they would still be able to get east to west and north to south through the facility. We reviewed how areas would be partitioned off to ensure safety and explained how we did not want them entering construction zones no matter how curious they were or how interesting it looked. We initiated a question and answer period to allow residents to voice concerns or ask any questions about the process. Resident tours were provided throughout the Bluebird Wing project.
Respect For Home Environment. Working in and around a fully-operational facility is always challenging and can be disastrous if not handled properly. At Warfel’s kick-off meeting, our team emphasizes to all contractors that we are working within the ‘home’ of these residents, and the importance of respect for their home at all times. To show our understanding of the senior care campus environment, Warfel requires that all workers obtain the flu shot and be tested for TB. All field staff were easily identifiable as they were required to wear orange reflective safety vests at all times and had to display a visible contractor ID tag. Our safety team visited the site each week to assure that all safety precautions were followed and to assure that we were OSHA-compliant. Warfel also maintained a strict site logistics plan which included designated parking spaces for contractors and various construction work and entrance signs helped guide deliveries and traffic through the right routes, minimizing congestion on site.