Ready for Anything: Construction During the Pandemic
When undertaking any renovation project, contractors know to expect some unforeseen issues hiding behind block walls or above old ceilings. Occasionally, demolition work comes to a halt and construction schedules are altered to address issues and reach a feasible solution.
After 35 years in business, we thought we’d seen it all – until we had to navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic one month into renovating the 32,000-sq.-ft. Eastwood Event Centre in Niles, Ohio.
Thankfully, the technology, values and procedures we had already established left us ready for anything as governmental agencies issued stop work orders and companies fought to be deemed as essential businesses. Although uncertainty about a plan for ‘tomorrow’ felt, at times, to be the only certainty, our team at DeSalvo Construction continued to strategize, schedule and adapt to the ‘new normal.’
Ultimately, construction was deemed an essential business in Ohio, and we were able to continue the project. We immediately put precautions in place and positioned portable hand-washing stations, extra cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers and boxes of disposable masks throughout the site for all workers. The space was large enough to maintain social distancing requirements, and temporary ventilation measures were implemented to enhance the safety of the working environment.
More than ever, technology was critical to the successful and timely completion of the project. Safety concerns made it difficult to collaborate in person and share hard copies of documentation, and others in the construction industry struggled to adjust to these abrupt and unusual challenges.
Fortunately, our entire project team was already accustomed to PlanGrid – a construction software application that allows plans, specifications and other documentation to be accessed remotely via laptops, iPads, iPhones and Chromebooks.
Our superintendent was able to collaborate with the architect, subcontractors and suppliers virtually. We could instantly document and share all project correspondence such as change directives, scope clarifications and approved shop drawings with the entire team through our mobile devices. And since we already had this technology in place, we were able to maintain this coordination without missing a beat.
However, the obstacles we had to face didn’t end there. The orders the government had issued in an attempt to ‘flatten the curve’ had created industry-wide material shortages and extended lead times for products. With many suppliers running with minimalized crews and manufacturers operating at reduced capacity, we immediately became concerned about potential impacts to the scheduled completion date.
For example, expected delivery of doors, frames, and hardware was pushed back more than a month! Our team continued to install ceilings, build walls, lay flooring, and discuss the best strategies to maintain progress and exceed expectations despite these hurdles. Stopping or pausing construction was never considered. Our team’s constant coordination, use of technology, and strategic time management allowed us to finish the project by the original turnover date.
The result: A beautiful event center with bi-folding glass entry doors, elegant lighting fixtures and private bridal suites. The Eastwood Event Centre is adjacent to the Residence Inn by Marriott in the Eastwood Mall Complex in Niles, Ohio. Designed to be the area’s premiere banquet facility, the venue can host as many as six functions at once with an overall capacity of up to 1,000 guests. Although the impressive ballrooms are the star attraction to most guests, the 3,000-sq.-ft. commercial kitchen with state-of-the-art equipment is extraordinary when compared to typical banquet facilities.
For DeSalvo Construction, the entire experience reinforced the idea that we should always strive to operate as efficiently as possible. The technology we already had in place, along with our adaptability, allowed us to overcome some of the greatest construction-related challenges of the pandemic.