Featured Project: Wegmans Hall – University of Rochester

Named after the iconic Rochester family, Wegmans Hall is, at first, a sprawling 58,000 square foot brick and glass behemoth. Step closer, though, and you’ll discover the attention to detail and craftsmanship apparent in every vignette, the innovative masonry, dramatic use of glass to open the structure to light, and the unpredictable scale and orientation of nearly every line. This is truly a large structure purpose-built to reveal small detail and nuance from every angle.

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One area of the project we take great pride in having crafted are the mdf data wall panels in, and just outside of, the auditorium:

These panels hearken back to the age of the IBM punched card; a logical fit for a Data Science building. These panels were custom built, measured and installed with precision, and hung with a level of craftsmanship we proudly put our name to.

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No project is ever without its challenges, however. Where a contractor demonstrates their value is in proactively anticipating these challenges and handling them nimbly, effectively, and with grace.

With this project we came across three challenges nearly from the beginning:

  1. Because Wegmans Hall is located within the non-drive-able heart of The University of Rochester campus, arriving at the job site was always going to be a challenge. Our crews were seemingly relegated to parking in any of the scant visitor spots scattered around the outskirts of the campus. Knowing this would be a no-go, our Project Manager devised a plan with the Department of Transportation and Parking Management in order to create and maintain an enhanced parking and badge system for our team. Even with these measures, our crews had to arrive ten to fifteen minutes early each day in order to arrive on the job site per the schedule. We appreciate and celebrate the continued commitment of our workforce.
  2. Still challenged by the central location of Wegmans Hall, our Project Manager quickly realized that loading the building with material was going to be a unique challenge – especially in coordinating the boom lifts across a bustling campus. Our team developed a plan that would solve both issues (distance and timing) by coordinating with our suppliers deliveries during pre-morning and post-business hours. The idea worked to perfection and allowed the building to be loaded safely and in a timely manner.
  3. The last and greatest challenge was the need to have the roof raised three feet. The issue came about as a realization that the mechanicals on the third floor had not been factored in during the initial construction. This brought about a dramatic change to the overall project schedule. The General Contractor soon ran into difficulty because other trades had already committed to other jobs. Seeing this challenge, US Ceiling stepped up to the plate, increased manpower, and worked nights and weekends in order to gain back as much time as we could during completion of our scope. US Ceiling Corp also committed to taking on the work of the other trades that had to leave because of prior commitments. In all, US Ceiling Corp ensured a true challenge was met with timely action, innovation, accommodation, and grace.

 

(additional images from the project)

Featured Project: Woodland Commons – Macedon, NY

“…this sort of project will address quite a few individuals who have a need for safe, affordable housing with the support they really need to help them maintain their independence and stability in the community.” – James Haitz, Director of the Wayne County Mental Health Department

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With it’s bold but warm hues, Woodland Commons is a development that immediately grabs your eye while driving along the heavily traveled Route 31 in Macedon, NY. Despite being right in the thick of this bustling community, the property is tucked alongside a gently flowing creek; the calming ambience washing over the entire facility. Given how different the property is to most of what surrounds it, you might think it sticks out. Instead, the warmth of Woodland Commons draws you in, makes itself and you comfortable, and causes you to forget it hasn’t always been a part of this dynamic neighborhood.

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With sixty available units, Woodland Commons offers something truly remarkable; thirty energy-efficient units for those in need of mental health services and thirty energy-efficient units priced for applicants in need of affordable housing. This blending of occupants meant the structure had to serve multiple purposes, had to be efficiently constructed, and had to meet the exacting requirements set by municipal guidelines. This is where US Ceiling Corp shines.

Our team arrived with a clear mandate for precision, efficiency, and highly skilled craftsmanship. One facet of the project we are incredibly proud of having achieved that is the linear wood ceiling we installed in the reception area:

 

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No project is ever without its challenges, however. Where a contractor demonstrates their value is in proactively anticipating these challenges and handling them nimbly, effectively, and with grace.

Our Foreman, Manny A. immediately realized there was going to be a schedule issue. The three floors were each afforded ten days for our scope (for a total of thirty days). However, when looking at the plans, our Foreman, Manny, realized the third floor would need additional time to complete. With this in mind, and before our team even arrived on site, Manny proactively devised a revised internal schedule.

Our Foreman knew that the first and second floors called for pre-rock around the tubs and mechanical closets – but he also knew the plans indicated that the duct work should not be on the truss space. This is a HUGE change to the schedule. It meant that the entire third floor had to be pre-rocked rather than just the tubs and mechanical closets like the other two floors. This is when the challenge of having only ten days per floor was realized. Unfazed, our Foreman Manny devised a plan. Our team would push to finish the first and second floors in twelve days (six days per floor), giving them eighteen days to complete the more complex third floor.

This ingenious pivot allowed us to complete our scope per the original schedule without impacting the other trades, architect, or general contractor. It is precisely this proactive attention to detail that sets US Ceiling Corp apart. In the end, we handed over a masterfully completed project on time, target, and budget. This was our commitment and this is what we delivered.

US Ceiling Corp would like to thank the following employees for their exceptional work:

〉〉 Manny A., Foreman
〉〉 Jesus S. and Jesus, Linear Wood Ceiling

 

(additional images from the project)

 

 

(quote derived from original news source: http://www.waynetimes.com/news/macedon-apartment-project-route-31-designed-mental-health-support-affordable-housing/)

Substitute Bus Driver Recruits Volunteers and Builds Access Ramp at the Home of Wheelchair Bound Student

A touching story out of Tennessee. A school bus mechanic named Thomas Mitchell was helping out his district by serving as a substitute school bus driver. In that role, he saw the daily struggle of Verna DeSpain as she labored to lift her wheelchair-bound daughter out of the home and across a set of stone steps to the bus each morning and afternoon.

Not wanting to watch this struggle continue, Thomas went to his local Lowes Hardware, told them of the Mother’s need, and the Manager of the local store was more than happy to donate the necessary lumber and materials. Material now in hand, Thomas called Verna and asked if it was ok for him and his friends to build her an accessibility ramp. Verna tearfully and happily accepted.

What followed was a construction project of compassion and community. In the video below, you’ll see more detail of this touching story. When stories like this arise, it reminds us of our critical ties to the community we live in and serve. We should all look for opportunities to contribute to our communities in similar ways.

The 2018 Building Energy Code Promises Moderate, Not Drastic, Change

Every three years, The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is updated. This update happens through a process involving code officials, builders, efficiency advocates, and other relevant stakeholders. Proposals are presented and then reviewed by this diverse constituency. Once approved, the code then falls under the jurisdiction of state and local officials to adopt and enforce. The IECC is currently in use  by more than 40 states. The finalization and publication of the 2018 IECC is expected in late 2017.

Throughout the review process, information on these proposals is shared. These proposals indicate the potential for marginal change, updates, and modifications rather than wholesale revision.

On the residential construction side of things, the Department of Energy recently reported that making the energy code 4% to 5% more stringent would save American homeowners $126 billion over the next thirty years.

As is true within our industry, more stringent code typically means changes to materials and applications and increases in cost. With that understanding, it is critical for those of us within the industry to know what future codes require so that we can forecast cost, train our workforce, update our suppliers, and maintain profitability.

Here are some of the proposed changes:

For Residential Construction:

  • Clarification will be brought to the Energy Rating Index (ERI) to ensure consistency.
  • The updated ERI will require a minimum level of efficiency for homes that utilize renewable energy.
  • A requirement for more efficient windows in most climate zones.
  • A proposal to require heated concrete slabs be insulated.
  • A new type of fan to be added to the mechanical ventilation system table.
  • Log homes/cabins will be exempt from residential thermal envelope requirements.
  • Units within multifamily buildings of less than four stories can be tested for compliance in batches rather than individually – provided the units in each batch have identical construction.

For Commercial Construction:

  • More efficient showerheads will most likely be required (maximum flow rate of 2 gallons per minute).
  • More efficient faucets.

As we near the approval and publication of the 2018 IECC, we will keep you up-to-date on any new proposals.

Energy Sector Accounts for 31% of Construction Jobs

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that more than two million 2016 construction jobs were dedicated to energy-related projects.

With efficiency continuing to influence construction, it is no coincidence that the energy sector saw 31% of the construction workforce dedicated to it.

Here is a video of a panel discussion at Columbia University on the future of renewable energy and how that impacts construction jobs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

General Construction Forecast: 2017

Continued Economic Recovery with Help From Millenials and High Profile Professions

ConstructConnect’s report on where the Construction Industry is headed in 2017 is wide-reaching and insightful. In this post, we introduce facets of the report that pertain to the categories of construction we serve. For the full article, please click the link below.


“Residential Construction

In residential construction, the multi-family homebuilding segment has returned to a level of starts on a par with before the Great Recession. Single-family groundbreakings, while considerably better than they were in 2010, are still languishing below their previous ‘norm’.

There remains a great deal of lost ground to be made up in single-family construction. Many analysts are fond of calling this an accumulation of pent-up demand…(continued at link below)

Office Buildings

Private office building construction has been on a tear over the last couple of years. Vacancy rates have diminished to their best levels in a decade in most major urban centers. Many of the highest profile career designations that lease space have been registering strong jobs advances.

Compared with the ‘Big Dip’ in 2008-09, staffing with architectural and engineering firms, accounting and bookkeeping firms, computer and design services companies and with financial services corporations is vastly better. Only the ‘legal services’ profession stands out for its failure to recover. One possible explanation may lie with the Web. Many residential real estate transactions in America have shifted to the Internet, while also embracing a do-it-yourself methodology…(continued at link below)

Hotels and Motels

Investments in new and renovated hotel and motel facilities is almost always highly cyclical. Recent spending by owners in the lodging sector has been on the steep upward ascent of the curve.

ConstructConnect’s hotel/motel starts were up by half in 2015 versus 2014 and the BEA’s put-in-place numbers will be ahead by almost one-quarter in 2016. Improved prosperity within the U.S. is an incentive for both business and tourism travel.

The extraordinary strength in value of the U.S. dollar relative to almost all other international currencies is one counterweight to the optimism for this sector. For foreigners contemplating a visit to the U.S., the exchange rate effect on bottom line expenses has become a discouragement…”(continued at link below)

 

The full article can be found here: click here

Construction Jobs Still Outnumber Applicants

Per the National Association of Homebuilders*, 200,000 unfilled construction jobs exist within the United States. This number is the result of several factors:

  • The housing market crash (this forced skilled workers to find new trades/retrain)
  • Volatility of employment (construction remains a high turnover industry)
  • Younger generations not choosing to work in the trades (public education attempts to put all students on a direct path away from vocational training) &
  • Poor communication about job availability

Overcoming the applicant gap can be seen as a multi-tiered strategy:

  • As the market continues to stabilize, consumer confidence grows, and workers will feel confident to return to their original trade(s)
  • Construction remains a high turnover industry for a variety of reasons but employers can reduce turnover by providing a productive, safe, and comfortable work environment
  • Reaching out to local school districts, vocational training programs, and apprentice opportunities can help ensure access to a well of young talent
  • Utilizing social media to publish job availability. Make sure to also post images and video of what it’s like to work for the company. Millenials are almost as interested in company culture as they are in their pay rate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Source: http://www.nahb.org

Abused Wife, Mother of Four, Escapes Abuse and Builds Own House Using YouTube Videos

“Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out,” Brookins explains. “There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B.” – Cara Brookins


An amazing and heartwarming story out of Arkansas. Mother of four, Cara Brookins, was the victim of abuse at the hands of her husband. Initially, she thought she could manage it but, as the abuse grew increasingly violent, she knew her children (aged 17, 15, 11, and 2) deserved a better home life.

Finding her moment and her courage, Cara left her husband and moved her children into a small house. While driving around town and reflecting on the difficulty of raising her four children in that woefully undersized home, Cara passed a tornado ravaged home in desperate need of a professional rebuild: “It was this beautiful dream house and it was sort of wide open. You don’t often get the opportunity to see the interior workings of a house, but looking at these 2x4s and these nails, it just looked so simple. I thought, ‘I could put this wall back up if I really tried. Maybe I should just start from scratch.’”

With only enough money to purchase the necessary building materials and an acre of land, Cara quickly realized what she had just signed herself and her family up for, “Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out. There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B.”

The challenge: build a two-story, five bedroom home requiring everything from poured concrete, to wood framing, masonry, and drywall. With the help of her three older children (the youngest of the four only being two years old at the time) construction began. “It was not something that was a great match to us physically, but my kids got up every day and they came out here. I was working all day and they were in school, and we would work into the night sometimes by headlights. It was incredibly intense. There was nobody going to the movies. There were no dates, no hanging out. It was all hands on deck.”

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As the house began to take shape, so too did the family. Cara explained that the act of building their home gave this young family a strength and validation that the abuse had nearly taken.

With the house built, and the family secure, Cara now turns her attention toward women across the country in a similar situation to what she once found herself in. To them she offers this advice: “Forget everything you’ve been told about taking baby steps. Everybody says, ‘If you just take a small step every day, it will get better.’ In my experience, though, it doesn’t. You have to make a big leap. It has to be this huge, enormous act. For us, it was building a house. For somebody else, it could be something totally different. But you need to do something big that changes your perception of yourself.”

Cara has written a book about this experience entitled “Rise, How a House Built A Family” which will go on sale January 24th.

Content and full article available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mother-of-four-cara-brookins-builds-her-family-a-house-by-watching-youtube-tutorials/

 

RBJ Features US Ceiling Corp.

US Ceiling Featured under Fueling Growth


In a recent article entitled Getting Rolling, the Rochester Business Journal interviewed Melissa Geska (President of US Ceiling Corp.) to discuss the important role that lending has played in the growth of her business. In that interview, Melissa spoke of the critical role that US Ceiling’s banking partner (M & T Bank) has played, “We could not have grown had we not had access to larger amounts of capital…”.

This partnership with M & T Bank has had a direct impact on growth potential, “Whereas most banks without SBA funding put a cap on the dollar value you have access to for capital, by having these project-specific supplemental loans, it allows us to hire more,” Melissa Geska explained.

All told, the article within the Rochester Business Journal highlights the necessary (and critical) role a small-business owner’s relationship with their banking partner ultimately plays in the overall success of that small business.

Midtown Towers – Bergmann Associates

Varied and Highly Visible: The Offices of Bergmann Associates

“When we were awarded this job, the pressure was on to deliver. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to showcase how skilled our workforce is. I’m so proud of their achievements here.” – Melissa Geska, President


With a scope that included metal framing, insulation, drywall, linear metal ceilings, and acoustical ceilings, US Ceiling had a varied and high difficulty job to complete. With a client like Bergmann Associates, the job also carried with it the additional pressure of high visibility.