It’s called the “ham and egg” process.
While the combo may trigger an image of an American breakfast, this ham and egg combo refers to the collaboration between LaRosa Groups and archaeological professionals on the historic site of Brookside Commons.
Brookside Commons in Waterford, CT, is a 40-unit affordable housing complex that was slated to be built on the site of a historic farmstead that dated back to the 1700s. There was concern about what lay underground. Were there artifacts that could yield valuable historical information about the time it was built?
“Some artifacts from the original owner, a preacher, were found underneath a building we tore down. This discovery necessitated an archeological excavation to ascertain the depth and breadth and the historical value of these deeply buried resources,” explained Dr. Harold Foley III, President of HF3 Group, LLC and owner of Brookside Commons.
Since federal dollars were involved in the construction, the state historic preservation office had to approve the site. Cece Saunders, president and principal investigator for Historical Perspectives, Inc., was assigned to assess the archaeological potential and review the documents before initiating the dig.
“Our standard protocol is to locate the well, cistern, and the outhouse. These resources were no longer used after modern water and sewer connections were made. So the occupants would use them as a storage or dumping ground for discarded items, making those three areas essential time capsules,” Saunders explained.
According to Saunders, some of the more typical artifacts found in these time capsules include dishes, medications, and liquor bottles, all of which create a picture of the people who lived there. Generally, the archeological professionals work side-by-side with the construction team, a collaboration referred to as the “ham and egg process.” If nothing of significance is found, the construction proceeds as planned. However, if there are human remains, the archeological process intensifies, and the construction project may be put on hold.
“Our success depends on the cooperation of the contractor. In this instance, it was integral to have a heavy machine operator who was careful and cooperative and had the sensitivity to work his huge machine as if it was an archeological trowel,” explained Saunders. “We were thankful for the opportunity to work with the LaRosa team, who were extraordinarily invested in the process.
The archeological process went as anticipated, but other aspects of this project proved challenging when we dug beneath the surface.
But, due to the collaborative process between the owner, HF3 Group, and the LaRosa team, this project went from a rocky start to a timely finish.
Brookside Commons: From a Rocky Start to a Timely Finish
Surface Rock (Ledge): Despite a geotechnical report that came up to the contrary, a large quantity of subsurface ledge rock and boulders were discovered shortly after the site work started following the tree removal.
“The removal of the rock was not accounted for in the budget or the timetable,” explained Ryan Tomkins, Project Supervisor of LaRosa Groups.
It was not just the presence of the rock which was problematic. It was the location. The rock was too close to the roadway, and the fire marshal would not allow the team to blast within 40 feet of the roadway.
“Our ability to pivot is what makes us an award-winning construction company,” explained James LaRosa, CEO of LaRosa Groups. “Instead of blasting the ledge rock, our team excavator removed the rock with a large jackhammer. After eight hours of excruciatingly loud noise, the job was done, and our team found a way to make up for the lost time.”
Unexpected Groundwater: This site was replete with unexpected underground finds. In addition to rock, the team found groundwater, which was not accounted for in the original reports. The water had to be relocated away from the building, necessitating a series of change orders and approval by the owner and the town.
“Within 24 hours, we notified the owner with a plan in place that we had successfully implemented in a similar circumstance,” explained Scot Thomas, Project Manager at LaRosa Groups. “It was complicated because the civil engineer was no longer available, and the architect and owner needed to hire a new one. Luckily, we had a good relationship with the owner and CHFA, so the change orders were signed with record speed, and the delay was minimal.”
Limited Flat Area Storage: The site was down-sloping to wetlands. That gave the LaRosa team a very limited flat area to store the materials required to work efficiently. To compensate, the wood delivery was scheduled every three days. When the roof trusses were delivered, they were hoisted in the air for installation within two days.
“The unexpected discovery of ledge and water could’ve potentially caused major delays. But with an efficient use of labor force at our disposal and by staffing multiple trades to work at the same time, we were able to decrease the overall schedule by several months,” explained Tompkins.
Untimely Passing of the Project Manager: Another challenge was the passing of LaRosa Project Manager David Pernal. The loss left a void, and it took some time for the owner to develop a close rapport with the new manager, Scot Thomas.
“I am so appreciative that LaRosa has the talent to step in and navigate the passing of David Pernal in an extraordinarily professional manner,” explained Dr. Foley III. “Scot did a great job not only keeping the project on schedule but also dealing with cost escalation.”
Financing: The funding was awarded during COVID-19, and costs increased significantly. But with a tight rein on the budget and practical usage of material, the team avoided waste and maximized all the available resources.
Like most recent LaRosa construction projects, Brookside Commons is PHIUS-rated. Thankfully, with all our passive house experience, meeting the standards was no longer a significant challenge.
This project incorporated energy-recovery ventilators, the most efficient HVAC option, insulation to make all openings airtight, solar panels to offset the community lighting and air testing, and aero sealing to bring the tightness of the building to a level that far exceeded energy-star standards.
“Delivering an energy-efficient project that will save money for the owner in the long run and protect the environment is a great source of pride for me,” explained Ryan Tompkins.
This project truly highlights the LaRosa core values, areas of expertise, and the value of collaboration.
✔️We have the expertise in meeting passive house standards.
✔️We are experts at building residential housing using a commercial construction schedule.
✔️We are dedicated to handing over a quality construction project on time and budget.
✔️We can meet the owner’s timetable because of our professionalism as construction managers.
✔️ We believe in the importance of teamwork and collaboration with all constituent parties.
“I am proud of our ability to forecast potential delays, overcome adversity, and turn around a project in record time,” added Thomas.
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