Coordinating major structural repair of two resident-occupied buildings

Mar 11, 2020

News of how TWO buildings received major facelifts while keeping everyONE in their “place”.

What does a hall of fame college basketball coach have to do with the playbook for a unique building project in Lansdowne, PA? Well, plans called for a legendary approach that would fit the building owner’s budget, overcome a limited parking situation, and keep residents living with very little disruption.

Failing to plan is planning to fail — so would you like to learn more about the precise preparation and orchestration kept the smiles in place at Gladstone Towers? Well there’s something you should know…

Industry News and Updates – OSHA’s ‘Walking and Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Systems’ two years later.

Mar 11, 2020

Two years after OSHA’s ‘Walking and Working Surfaces & Fall Protection Systems’ regulation changes became effective, the party’s that are most affected by these rulings (building owners and property management companies) remain challenged on how to navigate what these changes mean specifically for their properties and on how to move towards compliance.  While many building owners have been able to achieve compliance, many are still working towards that objective.  The most common reason that many building owners and property management companies have not yet achieved 100% compliance is simple.  As with most OSHA regulations, it is not simple to understand what it means and how exactly it applies to everyone’ unique situation.  Then, to increase the possibility of confusion even further, unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation being given and received in the marketplace that has led some building owners and property managers to move down the wrong pathway towards compliance.  Our SafeSite Advantage team has worked with our clients to provide awareness and education on these complicated rules and regulations, as well as support our clients in moving down the correct pathway towards compliance.  During this time over the last couple of years, we have heard some very consistent questions, concerns, and insights provided by our clients.  So, we thought it might be of benefit and service to all of our clients to have the opportunity to hear what those most popular questions and concerns have been, and what you need to consider as you think about each.

  1. In summary, what are the major requirements of all of the regulation changes that we need to be most concerned about as building owners and property managers? Has any of this changed over the last couple of years since it was effective?

First, OSHA has not changed any of the regulation changes that became effective in 2017.   The most significant requirements that building owners must consider for their buildings in order to comply still include:

  1. What is the deadline to be compliant? Did OSHA really give building owners less than a year to comply, and am I currently not compliant?

The initial OSHA deadline to comply with most requirements was November of 2017, which included ensuring each identified anchorage have been tested, certified, and inspected.  This also included the requirement for the building owner to ensure there were enough anchorages to allow for compliant rigging of the building.  However, during the summer of 2017, Valcourt worked with OSHA (including the group that wrote and published these rules) to give some reprieve to building owners on this very tight deadline.  A memorandum was released by OSHA in November of 2017 allowing building owners to continue work on their buildings without being in complete compliance indefinitely.  The most significant requirement to give building’s this allowance was that building owners must be continually working towards compliance and be able to demonstrate this if questioned by OSHA.  There is no deadline or timeline that specifies when this allowance will end.  It can be revoked by OSHA at any time.  In summary, if you are a building owner and you are not compliant with all of the requirements of these regulations, then in order to have this type of work conducted compliantly on the building, you need to follow the requirement of the memorandum to immediately begin the process of reaching compliance and continually work towards that objective until it is complete.

  1. What is the recommended first step to work towards compliance, and OSHA’s memorandum?

Well, the easy answer is to ensure you are enrolled on our SafeSite Advantage Program.  This program is designed to help navigate the requirements of OSHA and all industry consensus standards as it specifically applies to each building.  The program includes an experienced third party professional engineering firm to complete one of OSHA’s requirements to have each anchorage on the building to be identified and inspected.  The SafeSite Program Manager assigned to the building will also help the building owner understand the requirements of the building and provide all the required consultation and resources necessary to obtain and then manage the compliance requirements of each building.

  1. Why do I need so many anchors on my building?

Be careful of the consultation that you receive from outside contractors when answering the question of how many anchors are needed on a building to be compliant.  There are a lot of new contractors that have now entered this space over the last couple of years, as they are seeking an opportunity to make money based on these OSHA regulation changes.  But, their inexperience and drive to create an opportunity for themselves could leave a building owner in a very risky position.  There is no set number of anchors required per building to be compliant.  The demands of each building vary.  There are a variety of factors that contribute to ensuring there are a correct amount of anchorages to allow for compliant rigging of a building.  These requirements are not easy to determine and include the interpretation of requirements of multiple OSHA codes and existing standards.  The most impactful requirements of these regulations and standards that determine how many anchorages should be included in a compliant building system include, but not limited to, proper rigging angles of attachment to independent anchors for a worker’s working and safety lines from the worker’s point of suspension on a building, not exceeding the potential for certain specified fall or swing hazards should there be a failure in the system, ensuring availability for independent anchorages for the safety line when completing a descent on a building, and maximum allowable anchorage spacing.  There are many factors that work to determine the amount of anchors required per building that are referenced in various codes and standards, and how they apply to a building will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the general make up of the building itself.

  1. What are most building owners doing to achieve compliance?

First, if they are a client of ours, they are enrolling in our SafeSite Program to start the documented process of working towards compliance so that they can not only begin on their pathway towards compliance, but also to allow building services to continue without interruption in fear of OSHA citations or fines.  Secondly, typically speaking, most building owners are ensuring their existing anchorages are properly identified, tested, certified, and inspected in the first year and pushing those costs through their operating expenses that are to be billed back in CAM charges to their tenants.  Then, most building owners are using all of that information to properly budget for retrofitting their buildings with the required additional anchorages to ensure their system has a compliant amount of anchorages.  This is usually completed in the second year.  After this point, building owners typically remain on the SafeSite Program in order to have the Valcourt team manage the required annual inspections and documentation of all anchorages thereafter.

  1. I received 3 bids to install the additional anchorages needed for compliance at my building, and the prices were all over the place. How could this be if all bidders are using the same regulations and standards to determine what needs to be done at my building to be compliant?

There are quite a few reasons that a building owner may receive bids with wide ranging costs to retrofit their building with the proper amount of anchorages to allow for a compliant system at a building.  While there are always reasons that one provider may be more expensive than another provider like in any industry, there are some very distinct reasons that bids for these services can drastically vary in cost that the building owner should be cautiously aware of.  These include, but not limited to, installing lessor valued anchors, installing anchors that are quick to attach to a building (such as Adhesive Anchors), improper design of the anchor system that results in too few anchors being installed, low insurance limits, providing limited engineering during system design, shifting certain required engineering being provided back to the building owner to directly provide (ex – ensuring the structure will hold the required load of the anchor system being installed), use of sub-contractors, shifting liability through the use of sub-contractors, not using professional engineers for testing and certification, not using 3rd party qualified parties to complete testing and certifications, among many other such reasons.

All of these stated examples, and many more that are not listed, are reasons that a building owner should properly qualify the contractor that they chose.  Each of those variables will drive the costs for a building owner down, but they may not be in the building owner’s best interest or desires.  Valcourt has an anchorage installation division and would be happy to walk a building owner or property manager through this process, educate on how to properly qualify a bid, and to provide a proposal if one was desired.

Rachel Neves elevates our unsurpassed service

Oct 15, 2019

“I really enjoy meeting with property managers to resolve issues in real-time, and identify ways to continually enhance their properties — it’s white glove service that distinguishes Valcourt.”

Rachel Neves 
Account Manager

I love that the words “listen” and “silent” use the same letters. Because clearly understanding clients’ needs is paramount in my role for Valcourt. I live by the mantra “Do unto others … “, and always empathize with other people’s point of views so I can have the best service mindset. This is vital in my role with helping clients…. and just being a better human being overall.

While I have only been at Valcourt about five months, I have thrived in customer management for more than 12 years. From my experience, Valcourt’s company-wide commitment to service is not typical in this industry. Valcourt is committed to having leaders in the field, meeting with clients and ensuring services are smooth. We understand that many of our clients are faced with the challenge and responsibility of managing properties from afar and, with limited time and resources, it’s tough to gauge current location conditions that their tenants are seeing every day. Through conducting pro-active visual evaluations of our clients’ property portfolios, and by providing Property Observation Reports (POR’s), we are providing an extra resource to assist them in overcoming these challenges.

This active approach to maintenance helps property managers hold on to their building’s “curb appeal”, their welcome statement! The building’s first impression immediately sets the tone for visitors to the space. The integration of all of the property’s attributes — clean windows, polished metal and freshly pressure washed surfaces — ensures the building’s true value.

As you can tell, I am very passionate about my professional career. And thankfully, my work-life balance helps me keep my family in its prime spot. I love exploring new places and things, hosting friends for dinner, and most importantly, “momming” to two beautiful children, and an Alaskan Malamute/German Shepherd mix. I also enjoy getting my hands dirty with a household DIY project and indulging in a little reality television every now and then. You may have even spotted me in the background of a reality show myself, back in my high school days!

My name is Rachel Neves, and I am truly committed to customers and my team to ensure that our service earns your trust and continued preference of Valcourt.

Valcourt & Business Development Alliance delivers for Make-A-Wish

Oct 15, 2019

Valcourt and its Business Development Alliance donate $10,000 for a child’s dream.

“The moment we visited the Make-A-Wish Castle, and heard the stories, we were 100 percent committed. Knowing that the efforts of Valcourt and the Business Development Alliance will help make a child’s wish come true is nothing short of moving.”
— Dane Sprague, Valcourt Building Services

Getting together for the industry and the community has long been a goal of the New Jersey team at Valcourt Building Services, and the Business Development Alliance (BDA). This group of leading organizations includes Valcourt, Planned Companies, City Fire, Liberty Elevator, Cooper Pest, and Lawns by Yorkshire — all committed to routinely host industry functions and educational seminars throughout the year. In 2019, giving back to the community ranked high again for the group, so they set their sights on a much more impactful way to engage with their clients and colleagues. Valcourt’s Brian Keenan had a noble idea to reach out to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation, and see if there was a way for the BDA to pitch in. After an emotionally moving tour of the “castle,” the BDA instantly set out to raise $10,000 — the average cost for Make-A-Wish to fulfill a dream for the family of a child with a critical illness.

So, now with a goal of $10k, how do you raise it? Commitment. Throughout the year, Valcourt and the BDA partners hosted happy hours, golf outings and other industry events, inching closer and closer to their goal. On August 14, Valcourt joined the Make-A-Wish Foundation at a special event, and along with the BDA, presented a check for $10,000! Over a decade ago, Valcourt helped found the BDA, which is a networking group that unites best-in-class service providers in the area’s commercial real estate industry. Beyond the professional impact we’ve had, it’s heartwarming to know that the BDA is changing lives on a personal level, too.

On behalf of the BDA team, Valcourt wants to again thank Make-A-Wish for their mission of affording children and their families the opportunity to smile in the face of hardship, plus a big salute to the clients and industry friends who attended the events and supported our $10k mission to grant a wish.