Sunday, June 25, 2017

The major news of the week is that our parking lot has been paved, striped and is ready to use.

The work started with the removal of the old asphalt. In some areas the driveway was excavated down 10 inches to allow for more aggregate to be added.

Caruso also excavated the area where our four new parking spaces were to be added.

Once the aggregate was laid and rolled, paving began. In this photo you can see both the base and finish layers of asphalt and the finish coat of the north parking lot being rolled. 

Here the crew is putting the finish layer on the driveway to the garage. Because our dumpster is kept here, crews put down a stronger layer of aggregate before paving. Paving is hot work. When asphalt arrives on site, it is typically 300 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The paving machine, which has rollers that sit against the rear tires of the asphalt truck, literally pushes the truck ahead of it.

The driveway to the garage has just been finished. The wedge curbs on the left and right are placed and rolled by hand by skilled workers. The slope on the right, where the wall fell, is too steep to plant, so a shorter wall will be added and carpet juniper will be planted on the hill above it to hold the soil in place.

The day after the driveway was paved, we had a drenching rain. We were able to witness first hand how well the driveway drained into the new catch basin.
This photo was taken looking out the rear window of the infant/toddler room at about the same time. So much water runs off the low slope roof that it sheets like a waterfall. Gutters, as you can see, have yet to be installed. We hope that will occur this week.

Returning to the parking lot, you can see where wedge curbs have been added to provide boundaries for the gardens that will grace the front of the church. We have a lot of rock and detritus to remove from this area before, topsoil, mushroom manure, plants and mulch can be added. Margaret Hamstead and Beth Hedin will soon be recruiting gardeners to take on this task.

This photo shows the main drive, the south parking lot and the boundary to the garden on the south end of the new entrance pad. 

Because of heavy rain, the striping crew waited until Saturday morning to paint the lines on the parking lot. The machine in the photo is a line painter.

These are the parking spaces to the left and right of the main drive as you enter Sunnyhill, including the four new spaces on the left.

This is a better view of spaces to the right of the main driveway.

Our two handicapped parking spaces are left and right of the walkway into the north end of the new hallway into the building.

This photo was taken standing in front of the door to the church. 

In addition to the parking lot work, our AV supplier has been installing our WAN, connecting our Ethernet, installing speakers and focusing the lighting instruments that will illuminate the stage.

With the Internet now accessible via Ethernet and Wi-FI, we were able to move Roy into his new office. He still has more moving to do, but his new desk and file cabinets are in place, clean and ready to be used. This Tuesday, new furniture for Rev. Jim, Jennifer and Bethany will arrive and be installed into their new offices. We will also receive new cabinets to store the choir's music in the Carol Karl Choir Room.

Our exit lights have finally arrived and been installed.

All of the exit doors in the new building have floor level exit lights in addition to exit lights in the traditional locations. The fire inspector is due on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we hope to have a final inspection that will lead to us receiving our occupancy permit.

If you drive or walk past Sunnyhill, you will see that we have place our magnetic sign on the front lawn with the word TEST and the number 6 -- the letters are 6 inches tall. (Letters on our old north sign are 4 1/2" tall, which seems quite adequate.) We want to make sure our new electronic sign is in the perfect location. It needs to be placed close enough to the main entrance for people to see it and turn in in time. At the same time, we need to be sure that the sign is not blocked by a tree for people coming from the south. The sign must be 10 feet from our property line, which is approximately 2 feet from the sidewalk. When the new sign is installed, we will have to remove our two old signs. We are only permitted to have one sign.

This week at Sunnyhill, we hope to have the gutters, leaders and snow holders installed on the roof and the misshapen shingles replaced. Our HVAC sub-contractor will continue to work on balancing and testing the system. The AV contractor will finish installing the data and sound equipment. The painter will put a final coat on the door and continue to touch up problem paint areas. 

We had hoped to begin landscaping this week, but we can't landscape until the gutters and leaders are in place. The water pouring off the roof would destroy much of the landscaping by washing away topsoil and seed. If you look at the hill behind the infant/toddler room, you can see that the fines have been washed down the hill by the force of the water coming off the roof. For now, landscaping is on hold.

As a congregation, we have a long list of things to get done. We hope to finalize that list at our construction team meeting on Tuesday and begin to recruit members to get those jobs done. Currently much of congregational work is being done by a cadre of retirees, but we hope to be able to schedule work on Saturdays to give everyone a chance to participate.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blog updated at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 16, 2017

TEDCO is winding down operations at Sunnyhill. Wednesday was Scott's last day on site, and now Craig is managing sub-contractors and doing odds and ends without his trusted associate. If you walked through the church you'd see pieces of blue tape here and there or drywall compound where divots and scratches have been filled. These are punch list items, and next week should see most of them completed. 

The water company told us that our new two-inch line would be hooked up one night during this past week. It has yet to happen, no doubt affected by the thunderstorms we've been experiencing the past few nights or the leaking water main on Beadling today.

Giffin, which is doing our finish carpentry, will return to install a window seat in the infant and toddler room, benches to cover water pipes in the crying room and in Roy's office, and paneling around the new door-windows in the foyer. They must also finish and seal the railings on the new staircase and attach a few sections of baseboard in the basement classrooms.

Oak wood paneling to match the wood in the foyer should be installed around the window-doors next week. An interesting discovery is that the wood in the foyer is probably chestnut and not oak. The arborist from Bartlett said that when our building was constructed in 1920 the chestnuts were beginning to die and chestnut wood became relatively inexpensive. Perhaps one of our woodworkers could give us a definitive answer - oak or chestnut?
We are still waiting for the replacement doors for the sanctuary and the hallway. The windows in these eight-foot doors are not the proper height above the floor. To be ADA compliant, a person in a wheelchair must be able to see and be seen through the window.

The light fixtures for the sanctuary have finally arrived, and installation should be finished next week. We are still waiting for new exit lights and for the replacement fixtures for the Carol Karl Choir Room. Those may be weeks away. These LED lighting instruments will be focused on the stage. Our dimmer system allows for nine different pre-sets, so the stage lighting can be adjusted to enhance the action on the stage. The stage will also have back-lighting or halo lights as they are sometimes called. Back lighting is important when shooting video to bring the subject out from the background.

These LED pendant lights will provide the majority of the illumination for the sanctuary.

This photo from the stage shows the center section of spotlights. Additional stage spots will be hung stage left and right. The chandeliers have been unwrapped and have had the diffusers installed on the underside, making them look like inverted drums.

From this angle you can see three of many pendant lights that will dot the ceiling.
The black spec near the ceiling that looks like a giant housefly on the rear wall of the sanctuary is a very important device; it's an optical smoke detector. On the opposite wall is a prismatic reflector that spreads the beam across the room so it can detect smoke in any area. Recommended by the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department, this one unit replaces several standard units, which would have been ceiling mounted.

A drum light fixture has also been installed over the new staircase.
Paper towel dispensers have been installed in all the restrooms, and we have added stainless steel Simple-Human trash containers. We are waiting for the soap dispensers to arrive. Once we have them, and they are installed, the bathrooms will be finished.

Our landscaper delivered two truck-loads of topsoil in anticipation of beginning work later next week. He delivered the topsoil on Monday so he wouldn't be driving a triaxle truck across our new parking lot. 

Speaking of the new parking lot, there is good news and bad. Caruso has arrived and has begun excavation. This area has been dug out to accommodate our four new parking spaces. These spaces are located along the southern side of the entrance driveway to the church.

This view toward the church is the same area. In the background you can see the milling machine that will grind off the old parking lot and driveway. The machine can mill to a depth of 12 inches and a swath six feet wide. 

The driveway to the garage is being dug out 10 inches to allow for a thicker asphalt that will withstand the weight of the garbage truck emptying our dumpster. And this is where we ran into trouble.
The soil along the wall and at the base of the driveway was so soft and spongy that when the driveway was removed, the already unstable wall fell over. Fortunately it happened when no one was around, so no one was hurt. To address the poor soil quality, Caruso dug out another 24 inches of dirt and filled it with rock and large gravel.

They also had to stabilize the ground at the top of the driveway.

So how are we going to fix the problem so we can move on with the paving and finish our new home project? We are going to start by removing the remaining wall from the edge of the steps that lead to the dumpster all the way to the top of the driveway. The stairs will remain.
Once the wall is down, Caruso will grade the hill in a 1:2 slope, which is about a 27 degree angle. The dotted lines in this tracing Peg Hart made from our site plan show the elevations. 

This wall has been unstable for years, and it may be serendipitous that it fell when it did without injuring anyone. Removing the remaining wall and grading the hill is the most cost effective solution -- about $2,000 -- to what could have been a very expensive problem. Friday, we are meeting with our landscaper to discuss what to do with the hill once it is graded. If the hill is successfully sloped as planned, it will probably be seeded with grass. A 27 degree hill can be safely mowed with a hand mower, but it will be off limits for the Kubota tractor. If the hill is too steep, we may cover it with very large river rock, or mulch it and plant hill-holding plants. Caruso will add a wedge curb to the edge of the driveway to channel storm water away from the base of the new hill and toward the drain at the bottom of the driveway. We'll report next week in the blog.
The wall is gone and the hillside is rough graded. Charlie Cook shot these photos at about 10 a.m. Friday, June 16.

Another view of the hillside and the driveway being prepared for asphalt.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

As TEDCO gets closer to finishing construction of our new home, they are slimming down operations at our church. The fence across our front lawn was removed last Friday and today they took down the gates. Roy Simmons, who dragged the heavy gates open in the mornings and closed at the end of each day, in good weather and bad, breathed a happy sigh of relief when he heard the news. Tomorrow, he can drive right in. He has the gate lock on his desk as a memento. With the fence down, on Saturday, Charlie Cook and a couple of helpers mowed the overgrown lawn and raked up the leaves that had collected behind it. Our front lawn is much more presentable.

The brown strip behind the grounds crew is where the fence was located. The area will be seeded when the new landscaping goes in.

TEDCO's tool trailer, which has been a fixture in our front yard since last September, was hooked up and towed away. The office trailer will follow this Friday. Until construction is completed, TEDCO will operate out of the Oak Room in our new building.
In preparation for paving, the dumpster was temporarily moved from the driveway leading to the garage to an accessible location in front of the church.

The edges of the new parking lot were marked with bright orange paint. The area to the right in this photo will have two handicap parking spaces. The area to the west of the line in the foreground will be part of the new garden in front of the church.

The area to the right of the orange line will be our new garden, which will be populated with easy-to-maintain, deer-resistant plants selected by Beth Hedin and Margaret Hamstead. The garden will be planted within the next two to three weeks. Look for an announcement requesting assistance from the gardeners in our church community.

This plan view of the new parking lot and driveway shows where our new spaces have been added. This drawing has been marked in red to indicate the location of wedge curbs and level edges for the parking lot. Caruso is expected to begin work on Tuesday, June 13, and take three days to complete the paving. No one will be able to drive across the new asphalt until the following Tuesday, June 20. Staff and visitors will park on Sunnyhill Drive.

Sunnyhill has a vast amount of property disturbed during construction. To receive our occupancy permit, that area must be raked, covered with topsoil, seeded and covered with mushroom manure to regrow the lawn. Part of the old chain link fence that was in dangerous disrepair has been removed to allow our landscaper to better shape the hillside above the memorial garden and into the wooded area at the back of our property.

This view of the area to be reseeded was taken from the window behind the stage in our sanctuary. One of our resident groundhogs makes his/her way across the barren waste to greener pastures. Steel Blades Landscaping, whom we've hired to do the lawn, is expected to start the week after the parking lot is paved, on or about June 20. They will be delivering topsoil this Monday or before so they don't have to drive a tri-axle dump truck across our new paving. 

Moving inside the new addition, the stairway is nearly complete. The banisters are in place and ready to be stained. The treads and risers have been added, but since they are covered with cardboard for protection, no photo was taken.

The newel post caps were being added today. The blogger managed to snap a photo of one before heading home to watch his granddaughter, Madison, after school.
Our front door received a coat of oil-based primer after the painter asked twice, "Are you sure you want to paint the front door?" If you look closely at the right side of the photo, behind the yellow leg for the scaffolding you can see the push-button for our new, automated, ADA compliant front door. Above it is the knox box, which will hold a key to the front door for use by the fire department in an emergency. We'll have to do something about the decals. They really mess up the aesthetics of our new doorway.

The operator for the automated door is in the long rectangular box above the door. It isn't pretty, but it works and it's the least intrusive design available. The operating button is located to the right of the doorway.
The basement classroom has been primed and maple risers have been added to the front of the steps leading to the RE Library. The RE library can also serve as a small stage for the RE classes.
Before moving on, here is a visual quiz. Who knows what this is for? It's a trick that contractors use to catch the dust and debris from drilling holes when mounting things on walls. It reduces cleanup. It was used in mounting the objects in the next few photos. 
...Like the towel dispenser in the infant and toddler room...

The towel dispenser, grab bars... 

...toilet paper dispenser and baby changing station in the gender neutral restroom...

...and the paper towel dispenser in the ladies room. Still to be added are the soap dispensers, which are on back-order.
The stalls have been added to the women's and men's restrooms. They will be cleaned in the next round of cleaning.

All three of our new restrooms have handicap accessible stalls. This one is in the women's room.

To wrap up today's blog, here is a photo of the drum chandeliers recently installed in the new sanctuary. When the diffusers are added to the bottoms, the name for the eponymous light fixtures will become obvious.