The Caretti team coordinated not only the construction of the load-bearing walls, but also the installation of the precast concrete planks along with other job functions. The efforts saved three months of construction time.
The Caretti team coordinated not only the construction of the load-bearing walls, but also the installation of the precast concrete planks along with other job functions. The efforts saved three months of construction time.
Innovations such as the portable grouting units allow mason contractors to reduce the work-force on jobs requiring extensive reinforcement.
Innovations such as the portable grouting units allow mason contractors to reduce the work-force on jobs requiring extensive reinforcement.

Related article:
Sub's Failure to Explain Low Labor Productivity Bars Claim

It takes vision to be a successful mason contractor. He must view the project with eyes that not only watch the skillful placement of individual units, but with a sense of what the engineer and architect had in mind when they put the concept on paper. From the time of the Middle Ages, mason master builders have been the keystone of success of many important structures.

This special skill still continues today. Across the country, mason contractors are using their well-trained eyes to find innovative ways to not only complete their work, but to help the building owner reduce his initial investment in construction time.

Mastering the site

At first, the masonry contract for Eastern York High School in Wrightsville, Pa., covered just the load-bearing cavity wall for the school's new addition. But after studying the plan, the management team at Caretti Inc. knew that with the project's tight deadline, there was a better way to approach the project so the school could be ready for classes.

A project team, lead by Larry Derr, Caretti's superintendent of construction for Pennsylvania, met with architect Hayes Large and Reynolds Construction Management to propose a new approach to this project. Caretti's idea was to assume control of the “whole wall.” The mason contractor would assume the responsibility for almost everything connected to the wall structure. The contractor would place the brick, block, and precast concrete plank, craft all openings, and install the air barrier. The mason contractor had already demonstrated how well this approach worked on a recently completed prison project Reynolds also managed.

Caretti's whole wall approach would slice three months off the construction schedule. “The key was that we changed some of the sequencing and changed the plank setting for better efficiency,” says Derr. Along with a faster timeline, the whole wall approach also saved the project manager a substantial amount of money without sacrificing quality.

Controlling the wall is a firmly held belief at Caretti. “The mason contractor needs to control everything that is in the wall system he is building,” says Derr. “Efficiency and economy are gained when we shop and purchase the materials our masons install.”

On the East York school project, it was important for Caretti to raise the idea of adding precast plank to the masonry package early to generate the efficiency gains.

By using a precast concrete plant, Caretti could move the job faster. Crews could set and grout the plank in one day. Then on the following day, the crew could be on that plank working on other jobs. By contrast, a poured concrete deck on a bar joist takes about seven days to cure before the crew can resume work.

Caretti's team also worked with the architect to help minimize saw cuts and production delays. One example was window casing placements. Openings were shifted to accommodate the veneer layout.

Caretti's whole wall approach also allowed non-masonry work to move faster. Another key to the project's success was having all the trades–mechanical, electrical, plumbing–buy into the condensed schedule. In addition, their crews also appreciated being able to work inside the building's shell in the winter.