U of I Residence Hall

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Hometown Plumbing & Heating was awarded the contract to complete the mechanical portion of the new $53 million Mary Louise Petersen Hall.  This new 10-story residence hall is approximately 187,000 GSF with the upper 9 floors providing housing for 500 students and seeking LEED Silver-certification.  Level one provides main entrance, reception, offices and multi-purpose facilities, including gathering and assembly spaces, learning and seminar spaces, and student laundry. The Lower Level contains most of the building’s storage, custodial, maintenance, receiving, mechanical services, along with a limited foodservice venue, dining and recreation spaces.

The project began in April 2013 with substantial completion by April 2015. Milestones were outlined in the contract documented such as building structure completion, permanent building dry in, IT room build out, permanent power, MEP startup, dust free.

Hometown subcontracted sheet metal, HVAC controls, fire stopping, insulation of mechanical piping and duct, while self-performing approximately 40% of the mechanical portion of the contract amount.

The construction project was an OSHA partnership project.  The general contractor had site specific training for anyone on the project that wanted access to the job-site which had to be completed prior to performing any work. Safety reviews and tool box talk meetings were held weekly.   A review of the activities, hazards of multi-story construction and general safety rules were reviewed.  Since this was an OSHA partnership project, it was mandatory that all trades participate in the superintendents’ weekly inspections as well as the monthly OHSA inspections.  No doubt this raised the awareness of all trades and made the project a safety success.

Mechanical and plumbing piping, fire sprinkler, and electrical conduits were modeled in 3D CAD. We hired a local engineering firm to model the piping.  Over several months all trades met and worked through collisions and determined alternate routing to fit the structure.  This was a tremendous benefit to all trades.

Mock-ups and first work inspections were performed by the design team. Testing had to be witnessed by the owner’s representative with reports and approvals filed for all segments of the week. Each week after the job meeting, the design team would walk the building and make a list of items they wanted the construction team to be aware of.  As floors were in different stages of construction separate punch lists were developed by the architect, mechanical & electrical engineers, commissioning agent and The University of Iowa maintenance staff.

The design team and owner representative kept a progressive punch list to ensure work performed met the plans and specifications. Each item listed on each groups list had to be corrected and checked by the group that originally noted the item.  This kept the quality high and the owner confident nothing was covered that didn’t meet the design parameters.

The construction site was extremely tight and had no laydown area or parking for vehicles.  Workers could ride public transportation or park off-site.  As our crew size grew to as many as 18 Hometown employees, we provided passenger vans for our employees to use as transportation to and from the public parking ramp so they could ride the campus bus to the site and then back to the parking ramp to our vans.

Over the course of the project we were issued 25 schedules in 2 years. In the beginning the early completion date was December 2014. Monthly evaluation of the new schedule and modifying dates of deliveries became monotonous. We then submitted milestones, durations of work, and crew size for ourselves and our subcontractors. This minimized our frustration and allowed the GC to tie our activities to the milestones.  As the project progressed and the completion date became closer, our time was reduced to perform start-up, pre-functional testing, balance and commissioning.  The specifications called for functional testing not to be started prior to complete system balancing.  The decision was made by the owner to combine activities.  Communication with our subcontractors was critical in making sure we were ready to perform our work as areas became available. By getting the MEP trades, controls, balance and commissioning agent to work together as a team, the compressed commissioning process did not suffer in its quality for the owner.

The general contractor had a tower crane on site for hoisting material to the different floors.  Material deliveries were scheduled to enable the delivery truck to pull in to the job-site and have the material hoisted to the correct floor as needed for installation.  This required a tremendous amount of coordination. We worked with our suppliers to package material per floor to minimize unnecessary moving and storage.

Communication was crucial as there were a total of 490 RFIs, 212 ITCs, and 292 CARs issued, numerous emails and phone calls.

We supplied and installed a variety of piping, fixtures and HVAC equipment including but not limited to 21 High/Low water coolers, 131 lavatories, 89 showers, 87 water closets, 332 fan coils, blower coils, unit heaters, 44 VAV boxes with reheat, 13 base-mounted pumps, perimeter snow melt system, in-floor radiant system, 1 80-ton chiller, 1 150-ton chiller and 1 decorative water feature

Taking in to account all of the challenges associated with a two-year project, including a brutal 2013/2014 winter, our personnel and subcontractors performed extremely well. It was a winning combination and we would utilize the entire team again on the next 10-story building.  Everyone involved on this project responded to challenges, adjusted to changes by adjusting manpower and communicating well with each other.

There were several firsts on this project for Hometown Plumbing & Heating.

1.            First $7million mechanical job

2.            First 10-story building

3.            First 3D CAD modeling project

We knew from the beginning this would be a challenge, but with our preparation, communication, experience, safety background and desire to perform, we were able to make this a safe and successful project.

U of I - Plumbing (5) U of I Residence Hall U of I - Plumbing (4)



The complexity of the mechanical systems and full commissioning process required a high level of project management and coordination by Hometown's staff both in the office and in the field; under the leadership of Kirk Baker and Steve Brown Hometown did an exceptional job in helping make the project successful.  Design Engineers Reference Letter

Justin Marxen, P.E., Associate Principal, Project Manager, Design Engineers, P.C.

Personally this was my first experience working with Hometown Plumbing and Heating, but given their performance on the project I look forward to continuing to build a strong relationship between our companies as we move forward. Miron Reference Letter

Andrew Daniels, Project Manager, Miron Construction

Baker Group would like to express our confidence in Hometown Plumbing and Heating and our desire to work with them on future projects.   Baker Group Reference Letter

Tim Rabenberg, Vice-President, Baker Group

Experience. Integrity. Quality. Safety.
Phone: 563.381.4800
Toll-Free: 1.800.660.4013
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