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…

Structural Support: Scott Parello Employee Profile

Mar 11, 2020

Our team is built around you.

“I love restoring old masonry buildings because it preserves the past and keeps things previous generations were tied to alive.”
— Scott Parello, Director of Operations

“I’ve been working for over 30 years in this industry—from contracting to educating and consulting in masonry/concrete restoration, historic preservation, building envelope, and waterproofing. I’ve completed hundreds of specialized projects on all kinds of buildings throughout New England, the Pacific Northwest, and Mid-Atlantic Regions — from major university buildings to state capitals, parking structures to historic landmarks dating back to the 17th century. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all those years, it’s that no two buildings are exactly alike. And it’s each building’s idiosyncrasies that continue to fuel my passion for my work.

I began my career as a mason apprentice in Boston and gradually rose through the ranks up to senior executive-level management. Over the years, I’ve helped form restoration organizations and served as a county historic landmarks commissioner, as well as serving on numerous local and national technical committees and organizations, including: ICRI, APT, SWRI, and others. One of the things I take the most pride in is helping to mentor some of the industries’ top estimators, project managers, superintendents, foremen, and craftsmen. Valcourt’s people are exceptional and I am privileged to be on the team.

When I was given the opportunity to join the Valcourt team, I jumped at the chance. The company has an amazing safety culture that starts at the top and they truly care about every employee. As the Director of Operations in Washington, D.C., I’m responsible for all day-to-day operations including safety, productivity, client satisfaction, employee development, project management, and quality control. I believe my extensive hands-on experience brings tremendous value to our clients, because it gives me the ability to look at projects from multiple angles and provide holistic solutions.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family. I’m also a very active member of my church and an outdoor enthusiast. The Mid-Atlantic region has some great hiking trails and I try to take advantage of that every chance I get.

My name is Scott Parello, and I’m dedicated to supporting our customers and my team to help them grow and accomplish their goals.

Valcourt and Friends are changing lives with Make-A-Wish

Mar 11, 2020

Valcourt and Partners 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 team at Valcourt Building Services, and the Business Development Alliance (BDA). This group of leading organizations includes Valcourt, Planned Companies, and Liberty Elevator — 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. Last August Valcourt joined the Make-A-Wish Foundation at a special event, and along with the BDA, presented a check for $10,000!

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. Valcourt’s Adam Hibshman added, “If we can help even one child with our efforts for Make-A-Wish® we can all feel a little better about our community.”

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.