DPR's Mike Cummings and Banner Health's Aaron Zeligman discuss what will be most important for the end users of the project.
DPR’s Mike Cummings and Banner Health’s Aaron Zeligman discuss what will be most important for the end users of the project. Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

How can contractors and their partners collaborate with customers to deliver projects more efficiently? Or change the way all stakeholders approach projects to drive success? Those topics are the core of what DPR and its partners will discuss in six presentations at the 20th annual LCI Congress, the flagship event of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), Oct. 15-19 in Orlando, Florida.

The paradigm shift is being advanced through a focus on jobsite culture, better alignment with customer expectations and leveraging technology in new ways. By breaking free of traditional workflows, new efficiencies can be realized leading to benefits for all project stakeholders.

Three of DPR’s six presentations are discussed below. To learn more, click on the section headlines and view videos detailing the topics.

Matching Methods with Culture

When it comes to safety, we know procedures and protocols won’t prevent incidents unless a strong jobsite culture of caring and risk rejection exists. Similarly, all the tools of Lean, from kaizen to pull planning, will be limited in their effectiveness without the right culture. True commitment to continuous improvement, for instance, requires trust in your teammates and a sense of a shared goal that’s bigger than one’s self.

DPR's Daniel Berger walks his jobsite with other team members
DPR’s Daniel Berger focused on creating a culture that enabled Lean methods to thrive beyond just a series of steps. Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

DPR’s Daniel Berger understood that his customer at HCA Northwest Hospital Medical Center in Margate, Florida wanted the project team to share its Lean goals. He knew, though, that simply executing Lean methods would only take the team so far.

“For the last 10 years, there’s been such a focus when it comes to Lean construction on things like ‘what can we prefab?’ and ‘what can we do more efficiently,’” Berger said. “We’ve lost track of the soft skills and what those can accomplish on the job and how those skills can help build a culture that supports the Lean process.”

At LCI Congress, Berger and DPR’s customer, HCA, will discuss how they worked together to achieve results. The key was creating a team that hold one another accountable and can thrive during the “tough” conversations that take place during any project. They will also discuss how planning took a whole-project approach rather than being individual scope-specific, how productivity and safety performance improved vs. baselines, and how, once the project is completed in 2019, the culture will continue on future projects.

Aligning Lean Approaches with Customers

DPR and its customer worked together to shave 21 days off of elevator lobby schedule.
DPR’s Mike Cummings and Banner Health’s Aaron Zeligman collaborated on Distinguishing Features of Work, which led to a 21-day reduction in schedule on elevator lobbies. Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

When DPR’s team in Phoenix completed the first phase of a large hospital project for Banner Health, it achieved zero defects. Why fix what’s not broken for the second phase? The customer shifted its approach to quality by focusing on Distinguishing Features of Work (DFOW) that were closely associated with the end use of the building and patient care, building a Lean program to support them.

“When people think of quality, they think of aesthetics,” said DPR’s Mike Cummings, who is presenting at LCI Congress. “For Banner, it’s the functionality of those things and how they come together and how they will eventually affect their patients.”

As a result, the entire project team shifted its approach to focus on DFOW and saw fantastic results. For example, work on elevator lobbies (a DFOW) included eight RFIs prior to work starting and zero once work was under way. Trade partners saw increased productivity, too. The team originally planned for 53 days of elevator lobby work, but by aligning around DFOW resulted in only 32 days of work—all with zero defects. Similar improvements were achieved across the project because of increased communication and focus on what was important for all stakeholders.

Technology as a Time Machine

DPR's Charlie Dunn discussing the benefits of 4-D.
DPR’s Charlie Dunn is leveraging 4-D models to help advance Lean methods. Photo courtesy of Mindy Gray

The Lean method of a gemba walk involves going out in the field to see the work and collaborating with partners to address a specific issue in production or key performance indicator. But what if the work doesn’t exist yet and won’t be for another year? Easy: use a time machine.

“With 4-D, we can now collaborate more efficiently with our partners to deliver predictable results,” said DPR’s Charlie Dunn. “You can deliver much faster, so you can get a drug to market sooner or a hospital to treat patients earlier.”

Essentially, technology has unlocked the ability for partners to virtually walk through a job site far in advance of the work being put into place. Teams can gain a common understanding of the challenges of a dynamic construction environment, viewing it differently than the fixed nature of an assembly line. As a result, stakeholders can test strategies and make mistakes early—and virtually—while avoiding expensive problems that traditionally emerge after crews have mobilized.

At the 2018 LCI Congress, DPR and its partners will show how this is working to improve delivery of a large project in Orlando. Using 4-D eliminates waste throughout the delivery process and illustrates how we’re utilizing innovative technology with exciting visualizations that promise to alter the way we construct in the future.

David Lopez pictured on a DPR jobsite.
David Lopez came to a Project Engineer career track by starting in the trades. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In 2010, David Lopez started his career at DPR in Phoenix, AZ as an apprentice, working as a laborer and even operating an elevator for seven months. One day, he helped with layout and discovered his passion. He started reading plans and working on layout in the field full-time.

After honing his expertise in layout and continuously learning from mentors on his team, Lopez became a BIM engineer in 2015 and is now in training to become a project engineer. He mentors other DPR teammates in layout and is passionate about giving back to the community and sharing his knowledge, empowering others to grow in their careers, just as he has.

Lopez recently reflected on how he got to where he is today, sharing a few of his proudest moments over the course of his nontraditional career path:

Q: What do you love most about construction?

Lopez: What I love most is the end-result. I’m proud of what we build. To this day, I take my kids and drive around to show them what buildings I’ve been a part of. I take pride in delivering a high-quality product to our owners.

Q: Your career path is nontraditional—what made you pursue your career as a project engineer?

Lopez: My motivation has always been that DPR gives you the opportunity to do what you really want to do. Why not give my family a better future? If I could become a project engineer, why not do it, if I have all the tools and support?

David Lopez sits in a jobsite trailer with a VDC tool.
Lopez has combined his knowledge of work in the field with skills that are an asset in the jobsite trailer. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?

Lopez: When I graduated as a journeyman from the carpenters’ union, I was given the Golden Hammer award, meaning I was the best student out of the 2012 class. When I was an apprentice at DPR, I was already laying out, which was part of the final exam’s scope of work. One of the reasons they picked me was because DPR had already developed me into a journeyman; DPR had already given me all the tools and knowledge I needed to grow.

Q: What’s the most complex or technically challenging thing you’ve ever worked on?

Lopez: The project I’m currently on is Banner–University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). It’s one of the biggest projects DPR has ever worked on in Arizona. Completing spool sheets and creating the model for BUMCP was both one of the biggest accomplishments and greatest challenges I’ve had here at DPR.

My field experience helped me tremendously as I modeled every single floor, including every opening and penetration in the emergency department expansion and new patient tower. It made it easier for me to comprehend what’s going to be built out there in the field, and from there I developed my skills further.

David Lopez on site helping another craft worker.
Lopez enjoys mentoring other members of the team. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of builders?

Lopez: In my mentoring classes, I tell people that school isn’t for everyone. If you want to go the construction craft route, there is the possibility of growing, and I’m the perfect proof of it. I’m doing it because I want to, because I had the motivation. Without my mentors at DPR, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

Lopez: Always share your knowledge. Never hold back. The more we teach people, the more we grow our industry, and the more we teach our DPR teams knowledge within the field, the better we will be. I wouldn’t have been able to become a BIM engineer or a project engineer without the support of my teammates, who always mentored and taught me. If someone wants to learn, don’t deny that opportunity. That’s how I got here.

David Lopez laughing on his job site.
Lopez enjoys his work from the field to the office. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Innovation isn’t synonymous with technology. Innovation at DPR Construction can be anything that creates new ways of working more efficiently and delivers value to our customers and projects. Achieving that often takes collaboration with key stakeholders from owners, trade partners, end-users and project team members.

“It seems like for most people innovation has become synonymous with apps and devices, but we believe it’s more about changing how we work,” said DPR’s Tim Gaylord. “We want to focus on how we can do more for customers and be more efficient, whether it’s using technology or simply Lean thinking. Either way, it takes customers and project teams who are willing to try things on their projects and seeing what delivers value.”

That’s exactly what’s underway in Leesburg, VA, where DPR is expanding Inova Loudoun Hospital and using the site as a proving ground for a new way to monitor recent concrete pours with embedded devices.

These devices are embedded into concrete to deliver key measurements.
A DPR team member shows one of the devices that are under pilot.

Traditionally, concrete cylinder samples need to be tested off-site to determine strength. Separate core tests measure moisture content. Doing so involves taking several samples, sending them to a testing facility and waiting for the results. The project team saw an opportunity to see if there’s a more efficient method to measure these aspects in real time.

“We’re embedding sensors into our concrete pours,” explained DPR’s Louay Ghaziri. “The sensors will provide us with strength and moisture content readings that we normally test. We will compare those numbers to what traditional testing returns to see if similar results make this a more efficient solution moving forward.”

DPR’s crews are working in tandem with architecture partner HDR’s research arm. The idea is that, if the readings are reliable, the sensors will cancel out the need to send samples in for testing, therefore saving time, while also helping determine project sequencing and eliminating rework.

A sensor installed prior to concrete pouring.
The sensors are attached to rebar prior to concrete pours.

“On our project, this could make a big difference when it comes to putting in flooring,” Ghaziri said. “At that stage, it’s vital to know exactly how much moisture is in the concrete. Anything that can bring certainty to schedule on a complex project gives the customer more peace of mind.”

A DPR site in Sacramento will also pilot the sensors soon; testing in different climates helps establish the effectiveness of the tool.

It’s the latest example of DPR finding appropriate places to try new methods. Some have taken off; one solution for managing jobsite progress photos has saved hours of time for DPR and its project partners. The solution was first piloted on jobsites in Arizona, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Washington, DC region. Today, it’s used on more than 100 DPR projects because of feedback from architects and owners that showed it was delivering value.

DPR and its design partners use jobsite progress photos for a variety of reports and verification needs. Customers also like current photos for their own purposes including keeping stakeholders or employees/end-users up to speed on progress. Occasionally, they’re needed to help troubleshoot an issue. No matter the stakeholder, finding photos for their specific uses was a cumbersome process, often taking skilled people off their “normal” job for hours.

Visualization showing the digital model compared to progress.
DPR is using software that allows quick ways to compare progress versus a digital model.

“The old methods meant a project team ended up with thousands of pictures in a shared folder with titles like ‘IMG_541’ and no real context,” Gaylord said.

Stakeholders always disliked how a simple report could turn into a day-long process. DPR team members, as well as its trade, design and customer partners all reported a much better, faster experience when DPR implemented a process and software that integrated existing digital site plans with automatic curation of photos.

“Now, we drop a pin in a room, take a 360-degree photo and all the curation legwork is done for us,” Gaylord said.

The result is more time spent building and collaborating with much less time trying to find “that one photo.”

DPR looks for things that deliver value in the form of cost savings, schedule certainty or simply better customer service. While technology can be part of the solution, the true innovation usually ends up ticking one of those boxes.

“If it’s just a shiny object, customers aren’t going to be interested,” Gaylord said. “They want to know, with good reason, what’s in it for them. So, we combine being curious about emerging solutions with an environment where we can test things out and see what works, not only for us, but for the customer and project.”

Just in time for college football season, The University of Georgia (UGA) formally unveiled its enhancements to the west end zone of Sanford Stadium, the tenth largest college football stadium in the country.

Led by DPR’s Lauren Snedeker, the project team embraced the challenges of renovating the stands, locker room, recruit club, plaza and concourse area of UGA’s beloved Bulldogs, all while over 94,000 curious fans flooded the stadium during last season’s six home games. Through careful planning every week, the team demobilized the entire jobsite prior to each game day.

The $63 million project, funded primarily by donor support, creates a new game-day experience for current and future student-athletes, as well as fans. The 120,000 sq. ft. of new and updated space includes:

  • A 10,500-sq.-ft. hospitality lounge for hosting prospective student-athletes and their guests on game days. The lounge is the first of its kind at Sanford Stadium for the Georgia football program.
  • New locker room, including fully equipped locker and shower facilities, as well as additional storage space for sports medicine, equipment and coaches’ locker rooms.
  • New plaza replacing all existing entrances in the stadium’s west end.
  • Expanded and enhanced concession and restroom facilities as well as a new video board that is 33 percent larger than the previous one.

“This extension, renovation, and expansion project has made Sanford Stadium, already one of the finest college football environments, even better,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “It is one more step that the University of Georgia is taking to reach new heights of excellence across all our athletic programs.”

President Jere W. Morehead addresses the audience during the dedication ceremony for the project. Photo courtesy of Andrew Davis Tucker
UGA officials, DPR team members and HOK wait in anticipation for the cutting of the ribbon at the ceremony. Photo courtesy of Andrew Davis Tucker
The new locker room includes fully equipped locker and shower facilities, as well as additional storage space for sports medicine, equipment and coaches’ locker rooms. Photo courtesy of Skyler Herring
The $63 million project creates a new game-day experience for current and future student-athletes. Photo courtesy of Skyler Herring

Central Arizona College (CAC) recently opened two new, ground-up facilities that DPR Construction delivered on its Signal Peak Campus in Coolidge, AZ: the Mel A. Everingham Student Union and a Science Building. CAC President Dr. Jackie Elliott, CAC Governing Board members, staff, students and the local community joined to celebrate the ribbon cutting ceremony as the new school year kicked off.

The new Student Union promises to be a new campus landmark and a destination for all students, enhancing the student experience with a modern campus hub. Architekton designed the 40,600-sq.-ft. facility to mirror the surrounding mountainous landscape with an undulating, angular roofline that provides a soaring open feel to the interior public space. The Student Union houses a full-service kitchen and cafeteria, a bookstore, student lounge, meeting rooms and the campus public safety office. An 8,900-sq.-ft outdoor seating and landscape area provides space for students to relax between classes and includes AV infrastructure to convert into an outdoor amphitheater to host large events, such as graduation.

The exterior view of the new Central Arizona College Student Union.
The new CAC Student Union’s design takes cues from the surrounding landscape. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

Just north of the new Student Union, the new two-story, 32,250-sq.-ft. Science Building offers students and faculty a Maker Space/STEM classroom with 3D printers and robotics, teaching labs, wet and dry labs, prep room and faculty offices.

“The efficient and functional learning space of the science building is designed to draw and engage students in a 21st Century education atmosphere,” said Daniel Childers of Architekton. The building’s design offers nods to the surrounding desert with an outdoor garden and a water feature running through the building with roof drainage.

A dining area inside the new CAC Student Union
The new CAC Student Union enhances the student experience with a modern space for eating, studying and socializing. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

It was critical for DPR to deliver both buildings in time for the start of a new school year. To help ensure the schedule was met, DPR used Digital Building Components, a Phoenix-based custom fabrication facility that uses robotic technology to precisely roll aluminum studs and build framing components. The CAC Science Building had all exterior panels fabricated at Digital Building Components and delivered sequentially for immediate installation at the project site, reducing the exterior skin installation time from four weeks down to a day and a half.

A science classroom at CAC featuring lab tables and fume hoods.
CAC students can take advantage of top notch facilities in the new science building. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

Taking care of your home is an important investment. Purchasing a home is quite an expensive, but the landscaping, upkeep and improvements all cost money as well. You don’t want to spend that kind of money and not maintain the home; otherwise, your investment won’t pay off when you eventually sell the home. One of the most overlooked facets of home upkeep is with the home’s foundation, the very concrete upon which the house is built. Ignoring signs of foundation problems will wind up costing you a lot more than addressing them immediately, but how do you know what to look for, and what to do about it when you do see signs?

There are different types of foundation failure and different solutions to those problems but knowing that to look for helps in determining how to address the issue. Regardless of the foundation issue, the one constant is true: the longer you take to fix it, the more difficult and expensive the repair will be.

Foundations often suffer cracks due to soil settling, especially in certain climates. You will start to notice bowed or cracked walls when the soil is over-saturated and the house begins to settle. Even worse, though, is when the foundation actually sinks or drops, mainly due to the contraction and expansion of the soil underneath the home. If it rains a lot, that water soaks into the ground, expanding the soil. If the sun comes out and bakes the earth, the soil will contract. This has an obvious effect in the concrete on top of the soil, as does the age of the home. Clay dirt, like that found in the Midwestern part of the United States, is an example of expansive soil. If the water builds up around the home and then settles into the clay, it will cause structural problems. When the soil dries out, the foundation footings start to drop and the foundation walls will start to separate and crack. The older the home, the more of a likelihood there will be foundation issues, due to the years of soil changes. New homes can also have foundation issues, but that is more likely the fault of the builder and if you still have a warranty, it can be addressed before the damage is too great.

What are some above ground signs that your foundation is in distress? A good place to start is the concrete itself. Look for signs of hairline fractures, flaking concrete, gaps between the walls and the floors, sloping or sagging foundation walls and any mold, water stains or standing water. Also, leaning chimneys, cracked drywall, and misaligned trim can be major red flags. Crumbling stucco, cement or brick on the outside are also indicators that something is amiss. Check both the inside and the outside of the home for these telltale signs for structure issues. Inside the home, you may first see foundation damage upstairs, in the form of warped ceilings or buckling floors. You will also want to watch for exposed space between the walls and ceiling. If doors and windows are sticking or ill-fitting, these could also be signs that the house has settled. Using a level if you are unsure will give you the certainty you need to discover if the house has settled.

Since there is no way to control the weather to ensure the ground isn’t too wet or to dry, what can be done to make sure the foundation repair Okc under your home doesn’t suffer? The best course of action is making sure you have proper drainage from your home. If water pools around the base of your home or visible cracks redirect water to lower soil levels, the result will be excess moisture build up around the home, causing the soil under the foundation to saturate and expand. If it continues, the concrete supporting your home will slowly sift into the ground, and not necessarily at the same rate of other parts of your home! You will see obvious signs of water damage and possibly even witness that one part of your home is lower than the other. The unfortunate news: the longer you let the issue linger, the more it will cost. Even if you wait to fix the foundation itself, the seepage of water and the elements through windows and doors with gaps and cracks will wind up costing you more to maintain the home every month.

There are solutions, however, to the foundation problem but not all solutions rectify all problems! The first step in fixing foundation issues is to call an expert, a residential structural engineer, who can assess your foundation concerns and then devise a plan to fix these concerns. The contractor hired to repair the problems has to follow the plan and make sure the foundation repair Tulsa is secured. One such way of repairing the concrete under the home is to add extra steel to the concrete footers and foundation, certainly an option to discuss with the structural engineer and the contractor. If the engineer determines that your foundation has dropped or sunken, then underpinning would be an answer to that problem. This involves placing a support pier under the foundation, essentially lifting it to its regular height. There are several types of piers available; speak to the engineer regarding the best type for your home. Obviously, the number of piers depends upon the size of your home and the extent of the damage, which only becomes more expensive over time. Addressing the issue early is the best way to save money over the long run.

Owning a home can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you have seen the old Tom Hanks’ movie, “The Money Pit”, you know it can also suck the money, time and the very life out of you, if you let it! Being proactive with your home is the safest way to avoid costly issues in the future. Since the foundation repair companies Okc is literally the bedrock of your home, making sure it is safe and secure is imperative. Consult with experts if you encounter problems or have questions to keep your home sweet home from becoming a nuisance!

Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In honor of Labor Day, DPR Construction is launching a new blog series, Builders at our Core, dedicated to sharing stories of DPR’s self-perform work teams. These builders are successfully executing complex, technical projects for some of the world’s most progressive and admired companies.

With diverse career paths, we’ll hear from people who got to where they are in very different ways, but have a few key things in common: a passion for continuous learning, growth and building great things.

The Builders at our Core series kicks off with the story of Jesus, Ruben and Isidro Guzman, three brothers who started their careers at DPR as carpenters in Reston, VA. Over the course of nearly a decade, all three have grown and developed their careers at DPR:

  • Jesus, the youngest of the Guzmans, was the first of his brothers to join DPR as a carpenter in 2008 and has since been promoted to general foreman. After hearing about DPR’s unique culture, his brothers came on board as well.
  • Ruben joined DPR as a carpenter in 2009, and went on to become a foreman, general foreman, assistant superintendent and is now a superintendent. He has also worked his way into estimating, and shares estimating duties 50/50 with another teammate in DPR’s Reston office.
  • Isidro, who prior to DPR began his career as a carpenter at age 15, joined DPR in 2010 and has since been promoted to foreman and assistant superintendent.
Guzman brothers
Over the course of nearly a decade, Isidro, Jesus and Ruben Guzman have grown and developed their careers at DPR. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The Guzmans recently shared their passion, expertise and advice for the next generation of builders with us:

Q: What do you love about construction?
Ruben: It’s never the same; every day is something different. You are never finished learning. You keep yourself busy all the time. I fell into becoming a carpenter, but I found out it was actually what I wanted to do. When I came to DPR, I saw that DPR operates differently than more traditional general contractors. I really liked that, and it was one of the things that drove me to put more effort into what I did.

Isidro: I started in construction when I was young. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college; everybody has a different path. I like everything about construction: putting work together and working around people, as well as managing teams and empowering them to do good work.

Jesus: The big responsibility. Sometimes people don’t see it like that, but I like to have responsibilities and do my work the best that I can.

Guzman brothers
The Guzman brothers enjoy managing teams and empowering them to do good work. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?
Ruben: In my case, it helps me a lot to come from the field, knowing how to build things. You can see the drawings, imagine people building it and know what it takes.

Isidro: It’s important that people have experience on the actual job that they’re doing. If you have experience doing things with your hands, that makes everything easier. It’s important to prepare yourself with trainings, and do as much as you can to be successful.

Jesus: A person needs to be open-minded to learning about all kinds of work, and be able to build good relationships with all the trades.

Guzman brothers
The Guzmans encourage the next generation of builders to never give up and never stop learning. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?
Jesus: At the holiday party in 2015, I was one of ten people, including my brother Ruben, recognized for safety. I completed 10,000 work hours without any incidents. People who work at DPR do good work, and DPR takes care of them.

Ruben: It was the first year DPR did these awards in Reston, VA. It makes people proud to be one of the few recognized for the 10,000 incident-free hours.

Isidro: The most important thing when you are a leader is to get better at it. It’s not easy, and it’s a lot of responsibility. You might have 100 people onsite, working around the clock, and you are responsible for the safety of every person. You are responsible for making sure they go home to their families at the end of the day. That’s the reason I am proud of getting the job done on time and without injuries.

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering the field?
Ruben: Never give up. Don’t believe that because you are a laborer or a carpenter, you can’t become a project engineer or superintendent. As long as you have goals, and you study, it’s possible for everybody. If you need a tool to learn, people will always help you at DPR.

Isidro: Don’t be complacent; always try to learn new things. Carpenters, think about being foremen; foremen, think about being general foremen. It’s possible. Think about it, and work hard to get it. There are a ton of possibilities.

Moving into a new house is an exciting time in your life, especially if the house is brand new and no one has ever lived there before. If you purchased the home from a new home builder, you may have been involved in the process since the very beginning. While you may have been picking out flooring and shower tiles, you assumed the home was being properly built. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and you don’t find out about the home’s defects until after you have settled in and are living there. How can you protect yourself from costly repairs to a new home?

While the home had to pass inspection for you to live in it, there may be certain aspects of the home that are not as perfect as they may seem and they can still pass inspection. Maybe you purchase the home and determine that the small problems you are encountering with the house are ones with which you can live; the problem is, you don’t have the expertise to determine what’s a small problem and what’s a huge problem waiting to happen.

To fully assess the home’s quality, a season’s worth of wear will determine if the roof leaks in the autumn, if there’s a draft from the cracks in the windows in the winter, or you experience a power surge every time you turn on your air conditioning in the summer. New homeowners generally receive a home warranty from the builder, to cover certain aspects of the home’s structure. It’s usually broken down to cover mechanical defects, but only for a period of two years or less. If your plumbing in your bathroom is determined to be defected after this warranty expires, it is all on you to get it fixed. Other areas of your home may be covered for only the first year, like your roof or your carpet, so make sure you read and understand everything in that warranty. For instance, if it is your responsibility to have your air conditioning unit checked after six months and you do not do so, the builder can deny any reimbursement under the warranty if the unit breaks down during its first year. Note, too, that certain items will be excluded from the warranty or will make the warranty null and void. An example might be an “act of God”, like lightning hitting your home and destroying your chimney or you intentionally damage your own home; your homebuilder will not be responsible for these costs.

So what can a consumer do to ensure he or she doesn’t buy a faulty home and get stuck incurring all the costs? Since these issues can be costly, it is important to have a qualified professional on your side. It is important to have your construction defect expert Witness check your home before your warranty expires, in case there are some issues with the home. If you experience problems after the warranty expires, it still might be a good idea to have someone come out and inspect the home, just so you can determine how to best address the problem.While the homebuilder may send out an inspector of their own to assess your house, it is always a good idea to have your own impartial assessment. The inspector hired by the homebuilder works for them, and he or she may not be as diligent as you would like. Also, so defects are difficult to find; they take an expert eye, and you do not know the background of the person hired by the homebuilder. Having your own construction defect expert check out your home will give you peace of mind. Prior to your expert’s inspection, and/or the inspection by the homebuilder’s professional, make a list of all the items you perceive may be potential problems, even if they seem minute. What might seem like a minor imperfection could in fact be the beginning of a major issue. Don’t try and assess the problem yourself; leave it for the experts to sort out.

Once you have had the inspection by your construction defect expert, he or she should prepare a written assessment of your home from the rooftop and trusses all the way down to the foundation and surrounding soil. This assessment should address all the problems with your home—current and potential—so that you can put together a game plan as to how to tackle each issue. The report should also include an estimate of the repair cost; just to give you some idea as to the extent of the damage and as a counter to the number a contractor or another construction professional might throw out as a ballpark figure to fix the problem.

If it is determined that there’s a defect detected that is under warranty, make sure you address it with the homebuilder immediately, preferable my certified mail, to keep a paper trail. Take pictures, document dates and keep any communication between yourself and the homebuilder and the warranty company. If you wait, the warranty could expire, and you will then be responsible for repairing the defect yourself. Or, if a larger issue is found during the inspections, legal action might be necessary. Document these defects because the builder may be responsible due to breach of contract, if you can prove that the issue was caused by the homebuilder or that they knew there was a problem and they failed to resolve it, you may have a case. If the builder won’t honor a valid warranty or they somehow close up shop to avoid having to pay you, you can contact your state’s contractor licensing office, the Better Business Bureau, and an attorney to possibly pursue litigation measures. If it gets to this point, you may want to attempt to settle with the homeowner or, if the home is literally falling apart, see if they will buy it back from you. To dutifully pursue reimbursement, having a qualified construction defect expert provide their assessment will help your case.

Just remember, when purchasing a new home, investigate the homebuilder and their track record. Make sure you are protected and be aware of your rights as a homebuyer. Document everything, just in case you encounter a problem and enlist the help of a construction expert Witness for inspections and assessments; you are protecting your biggest investment—your home!

Working together at a confidential life sciences project in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, project engineers Devin Kennedy and Ben Salsman noticed that their customer was disposing of a few old bioreactors. Designed to grow and develop cells to extract proteins that are used to create injectable medicines, bioreactors are an important aspect of life sciences–a piece of equipment that engineers usually learn about out of a book.

Wanting to gain more hands-on MEP experience in DPR’s culture of continuous learning, Kennedy and Salsman decided to turn the discarded 60-liter bioreactor into a learning tool. With a core team of DPR’s technical experts, they brainstormed what they could do, such as adding valves and instruments, building a control panel and developing a sequence of operations. They stepped up to the biggest challenge: making the out-of-service bioreactor fully functional.

To gain more hands-on MEP experience, project engineers turned a discarded 60-liter bioreactor into a learning tool. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards

A team of 20 project engineers in DPR’s Raleigh-Durham office set out to create a physically self-contained bioreactor on one skid and understand how its components (sensors, valves, pumps, controls, wiring) interacted in a highly controlled, pressurized environment. Through hands-on workdays led by DPR experts focused on mechanical, controls and electrical aspects of the bioreactor, the project engineers gained experience from design through commissioning.

The project engineers stepped up to the biggest challenge: making the out-of-service bioreactor fully functional. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards

Focusing on the “why,” not just the “what,” the project engineers looked at the bioreactor as a holistic system that helped them connect to DPR’s work. They gained hands-on experience with concepts including controlled automation systems, welding and wiring–all of which reappear in projects across core markets, and all of which project engineers typically don’t get to touch with their own hands.

“Knowing how the bioreactors work, and knowing how to build them through their own experiences only makes our project engineers better team members for our customers,” said David Ross, who leads DPR’s life sciences core market in the Southeast. “On a broader level, Project Tinman helped them better understand our life science customers, as well as the perspectives of trade partners and equipment manufacturers.”

The team gained hands-on experience with concepts including controlled automation systems, welding and wiring–all of which project engineers typically don’t get to touch with their own hands. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards

What started as an idea between two project engineers has become a learning tool that will help countless more people at DPR become better builders. Photo courtesy of Amy Edwards

This spring, about 40 women from DPR and across the industry came together to make much-needed improvements at Project Bayview, a home in San Francisco for women transitioning out of difficult situations, including homelessness, addiction and human trafficking.

As part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco’s second annual SHEBUILDS community project, the team of all-female builders, engineers, craftspeople and community volunteers worked to increase health and safety at Project Bayview, empowering women to become change-makers in their communities.

This spring, an all-female build team came together to make much-needed improvements at Project Bayview, a home in San Francisco for women transitioning out of difficult situations. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Over the course of two build days, the SHEBUILDS team completed a series of improvements to the women’s home, including:

  • Turning an empty, unmaintained backyard area into an outdoor living space, including installing a new raised deck area and landscaping to create a safe, peaceful place for women and their children;
  • Building a platform for the washer and dryer to prevent flooding;
  • Installing a new pot-filler faucet and garbage disposal in the kitchen;
  • Patching holes, drywalling, painting, caulking and organizing throughout the home.

“The great thing was not only did we have skilled carpenters on this project, but also women who just wanted to learn more and wanted to give back,” said DPR’s Renee Powers. “We had an incredibly cohesive team of all-women builders working together to create positive change for other women.”

The team turned an empty, unmaintained backyard area into an outdoor living space, including installing a new raised deck area and landscaping to create a safe, peaceful place for women and their children. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

According to Heather Kusunoki, house manager at Project Bayview, some of the women living at the home joined the team to work on repairs, and were inspired working alongside and learning from the all-women team’s attention to detail and quality. One of these women now aspires to enter the trades after she finishes her program at Project Bayview, breaking a cycle of difficult situations and creating a new one: one of women empowering women to create positive change in their lives and communities.

Check out radio host Peter Finch’s podcast about the SHEBUILDS project, featuring DPR’s Vic Julian and Lea Rewinski here!

The team of all-female builders, engineers, craftspeople and community volunteers worked to increase health and safety at Project Bayview, empowering women to become change-makers in their communities. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo