Two AGCOK Awards for Restoration Work in OK

(St. Louis, MO, Feb. 11, 2020) – Western Specialty Contractors' Tulsa, Oklahoma Branch proudly announced that it has received awards for Stone Restoration and Historical Restoration from the Associated General Contractors of Oklahoma (AGCOK) – Building Chapter.

Representatives from Western’s Tulsa, Oklahoma Branch accepted the AGCOK awards at the organization’s 80th Annual Meeting on Jan. 11, 2020. The AGCOK is the state’s largest and leading commercial/industrial construction trade association, headquartered in Oklahoma City. The awards honor outstanding commercial construction companies, employees, industry partners and leaders that have helped build the Oklahoma community.

Stone Restoration Award

Western received the AGCOK’s Stone Restoration award for its work on the Theta Pond Bridge improvements at Oklahoma State University. The sidewalk around the university’s iconic Theta Pond, known as Greek Walk, and its five-foot wide wooden bridge over the pond had degraded over the years, creating a potential hazard. Western crews were contracted to remove the old wooden bridge and replace it with a stone bridge consistent in design and scope as the existing architecture on campus.

The new 8-foot-long bridge, renamed Greek Centennial Bridge, is an important focal point of the area, which provides a beautiful scene for students and visitors to take pictures and visit.

“It was important that the bridge compliment the surrounding landscaping and blend into the existing surrounding stone,” said Oklahoma Branch Manager Doug Martin. “It was a challenge working on a college campus with thousands of students walking by, plus trying to maneuver large and heavy stones into place without damaging any of the existing landscaping. I am proud of the beautiful, durable bridge that our crew created for the university and its students.”

Historical Restoration Award

Western received a second AGCOK award for Historical Restoration for its façade and structural work on the Intrada El Reno Apartments in El Reno, OK. Intrada El Reno is a historic hotel building that has been converted into apartments for people with low incomes.

Western was contracted to re-point the building’s masonry joints; remove decayed sandstone window sills; make structural repairs of joist beams, columns and underside of the slab; provide brick infill of existing door and window openings; create window and door openings and restore concrete on the Porte Cochere.

The historic restoration project was challenging to Western’s crews who had to remove existing windowsills and ship them to the fabrication shop where drawings were created for approval by the project engineer. Molds were then constructed based on the drawings for the replacement windowsills to be cast, then shipped back to the job site for placement.

“Being a single-source contractor to address all the needs of the developer was a huge plus for all involved. We were able to address all the needs that Vecino Group had with the restoration of the facade, structural repairs of all concrete and the waterproofing needs,” said Martin. “The process of matching the existing decorative profiles of the Porte Cochere was our biggest challenge. Through making a cast of the existing profiles to create concrete forms to the considerable time and talent it took to hand patch the balusters, our crews proved to be up for the challenge.”

Media Contact

Jennifer Beidle

Make Your Maintenance Program More Effective

As you spend more time reading the Western blog, you may notice something about caulking (or sealants).

Namely, that we mention the importance of them constantly.

What’s so special about caulking?

For starters, caulking is the first line of defense against water getting into your building … and failed caulking is the number one cause of water issues in all types of buildings.

The good news is that there’s a straightforward way to avoid those issues.

Our best tip for making your maintenance program more cost-effective

If you want one tip that will give you the most significant results in the shortest time, it’s this:

Make sure to inspect your caulk joints once a year to determine their condition.

All you need to do is have you or someone on your team go outside and take a look at them to see if there are any signs of deterioration.

The caulking on the left is completely toasted. It doesn’t matter what kind of condition the rest of the building components are in … water is going to get into the building through these deteriorated joints.

That will undoubtedly make the tenants mad, but there’s also the possibility of costly interior damage.

So that’s one thing you can do today – inspect the condition of your caulk joints.

Why caulking is the most important thing you need to think about for exterior building maintenance

The book Construction Waterproofing Handbook, by Michael T. Kubal does a great job of illustrating why caulking is so crucial. (He refers to it as sealants, but for this lesson, we’re using the terms interchangeably.)

You could read the whole thing (and your maintenance would improve as a result), but I’m going to share the highlights about the importance of caulking.

The main thing you need to know is that your building is made up of a bunch of different components, and those components all need to work correctly for your building to be watertight.

If one component fails, it doesn’t matter what kind of shape the others are in – water is going to get into your building.

It’s like the offensive line in football. Four of the five guys can execute their block flawlessly. But if that fifth guy misses his block, the quarterback is getting sacked. It doesn’t matter how well those four guys blocked … the unit still failed to its one job.

The only way your multiple building components can work is if each one is properly transitioned into the other parts. That “transition” we’re talking about is usually the caulking.

Why so many building managers frequently deal with water issues

Kubal sums up what we’re talking about here perfectly.

All individual envelope systems must be adequately transitioned into other components … Often the tradesworkers completing this work are not aware of, trained in, or supervised in enveloping the building properly. And this is the number one cause of water infiltration in all types of structures.

It makes sense why caulking is so often overlooked by building managers. Its size and cost seem relatively small compared to other parts of your building. But what’s staggering is how often contractors overlook this crucial component.

So, don’t make the mistake of dismissing the importance of caulking. And don’t just trust any contractor to take care of this component that’s so crucial to your success.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this lesson, it’s this last excerpt from Kubal’s book.

Since sealants are a minor portion of overall construction scope, they receive an equal amount of effort in their design and installation. Yet because they are the first line of defense against water infiltration, sealant failures can cause an unequal proportion of problems and resulting damage.

Just by understanding that and acting accordingly, your maintenance program will be miles ahead of the industry standard.

About Tom Brooks

Tom Brooks is the Chief Operating Officer for Western, the largest specialty contractor in building envelope and parking garage restoration in the United States. He leads a team of 1,250+ employees and oversees all aspects of the day-to-day operations for Western’s 30 branch locations across the country.

How to Impress Clients with Better In-House Building Inspections

Western was founded in 1915.

A lot has changed since then. And Western has been right here in the trenches the entire time, providing trusted advice about building envelope restoration and maintenance to thousands of people.

But you might actually be surprised at how much has remained the same.

Fads come and go. Tactics change. New contractors enter the industry, then fade away. But there are a few fundamental mindsets, strategies, and tools that we’ve seen work throughout our entire 100+ year history.

One of those tools is the building inspection.

Take the guesswork out of your in-house inspections

Since 1915, Western has been pioneering restoration and preservation techniques that deliver superior quality and results.

The solutions we develop for our customers and their properties have been tested and implemented on thousands of buildings all across the country.

With this foundational expertise, Western knows what it takes to conduct effective in-house building inspections as well as anyone. We know which parts of the building you need check and the small warning signs you can’t afford to miss.

Putting all that knowledge in one place

In our inaugural issue of this monthly digital publication, we talk about:

  • The fastest way to make your building maintenance program more effective
  • Why building inspections are so critical to your success
  • A handy 3-step process for organizing the information on your property
  • How to save time and money by planning your inspection
  • And a whole lot more …

In other words, we cover the fundamentals of doing an annual building inspection that will put you miles ahead of the rest of the industry.

There might not be a more important topic when it comes to helping you create a winning difference as a property management professional.

Here’s to your future success.

All the best,
Tom Brooks

Note: Western Specialty Contractors does not provide licensed design, engineering, or architectural services. But Western has great relationships with engineering firms across the country, and when appropriate, we can recommend a design professional, or work with one provided by the Client.

3 Keys to Doing Successful Property Inspections

If you want to reduce maintenance costs, there are a lot of advantages to doing property inspections.

To begin with, they give you valuable information that makes the stressful maintenance decision-making process much easier and straightforward.

But we all know that proper inspections involve more than just walking around a property looking for potential issues. There are tons of property inspections that don’t do much to help the manager and owner. And there are a few successful standouts.

Here’s how to put your property inspection into the second category.

#1: Start with standardized methods

Successful inspection programs are built on a foundation of excellent standardized methods. They help improve consistency from inspection to inspection over time. That way, you can reliably compare results from a current inspection to past ones. Our recommendations include:

  • Taking several pictures of each component’s condition — don’t try to rely on notes from inspectors exclusively
  • Using a condition rating scale — keep ratings as simple as possible

Sometimes folks are tempted to start doing inspections first, then figuring out how to record the data later. That’s a recipe for expensive mistakes and a less-than-awesome inspection.

#2: Instructions matter

Successful inspections leverage greatly written guidelines.

Starting with standardized methods will get you a good way down this road, but if your team needs some more help, make sure to provide them with written instructions they can review.

Even if your inspection is set up correctly, it only makes it harder to get the traction if your staff isn’t sure what to do. It’s not about dumbing it down — it’s about taking the guesswork out of the equation.

#3: Create checklists (or know where to get them)

Successful inspections have rock-solid processes. If you’re new to exterior maintenance, creating checklists can be a fun and exciting way to get better.

But if you want to do a great inspection, you need to pay your dues and learn how to make excellent inspection checklists. If that isn’t you yet, you can shortcut this by asking a contractor to help you.

You might supply the vision and property knowledge, and they bring their years of experience and expertise.

Cost-Effective Preventive Maintenance

I have a confession to make.

When I started in the construction industry, I didn’t have a nice and tidy framework to guide me. Sure, I knew what the words ‘maintenance’, ‘preventative’, and ‘cost-effective’ all meant.

But when you put them all together … it turns into one of those vague industry buzzwords. People understand what it means. They don’t understand how to make it a reality.

Continue reading

When and How Often to do Exterior Property Inspections

We get some common questions when it comes to exterior property inspections.

  • When should I do inspections?
  • How often should I do inspections?

Inspections are an essential part of sustaining an attractive property and minimizing risk, so having the right frequency and schedule for them is huge for your success.

There’s no absolute rule, and every property will be different.

But here are three things to consider when determining when and how often to do exterior inspections at your property.

#1: Property type, use, and location

The type, use, and location of your property play a significant role in determining inspection frequency.

For example, a high-class office building will require a lot more inspections than a warehouse property. Consider things like:

  • Size
  • Traffic
  • Vacancy
  • Visibility
  • Neighborhood

#2: The overall condition

After you’ve thought about those things, it’s time to account for what kind of shape the property is in right now.

  • How old is your property?
  • What’s the maintenance history?
  • What about the deterioration rate of building components?

#3: Staff availability

Your on-site maintenance staff and the size of the portfolio you manage will naturally influence your inspection schedule and frequency.

After evaluating all the factors, you’ll want to determine a schedule and frequency for all your major components.

Some common frequencies are:

  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Annually

And when it comes to the timeline or schedule, you’ll want to try to conduct inspections at times when they’ll impact tenants’ businesses the least.