Case Studies

The Huntington East Middle School – Paramount Builders Inc.

Delivering a Sustainability-oriented Educational Facility

When times get tough, the tough don’t compromise on quality or attention to detail, which is precisely what Paramount Builders Inc. (PBI) has emphasized since it was founded in 2005. PBI relies on strategic planning, clear communication and close coordination amongst the entire project team to ensure the client has a positive experience. After all, it’s the client that matters most to PBI, as the company aims to build relationships on a strong foundation of trust and value.

“Our goal is to make each job more efficient than the last one,” says Kyle Captain, senior project manager at PBI. “We must constantly adjust how we estimate and complete our projects.” PBI is a general contracting firm based out of Saint Albans, W. Va., which also provides design-build, construction management and consulting services for both residential and commercial projects. PBI’s core team comprises roughly 10 professionals depending on the company’s current volume, and the company has seen activity resulting in that number surging as high as 85.

The ability to quickly add field personnel enables the company to follow work wherever it pops up, ensuring clients can rely on PBI’s expertise in any corner of the state. Captain estimates there are usually three team members providing back-of-the-house support services and usually another three superintendents on hand at any given time, with laborers, carpenters, masons and other specialized trades as needed. The bulk of PBI’s portfolio has been built within the state of West Virginia using talent from the local union halls.

Keeping a small office team helps to keep overhead costs lean, which trickles down to keep PBI’s pricing competitive, as evidenced by the company’s recent success in the public-sector market. PBI was declared lowest bid for the sustainability-oriented Huntington East Middle School in Huntington, W. Va., in January 2012 and commenced work on site in March of the same year. Not only was PBI’s bid lowest, but also it included enough wiggle room to include several alternates such as polished concrete floors, additional traffic lanes and increased landscaping features.

Breaking New Ground

“This will be the first large-scale test of using polished concrete flooring at a Cabell County school and it will hopefully alleviate some of the issues related to replacing VCT tiles and continually waxing floors,” expands Captain. A coarser finish will be used for medium-traffic areas like classrooms, reserving the highest-grade polish for high-traffic areas and corridors. The polished concrete floors will require fewer harsh chemicals to clean and maintain, but the school board won’t have to sacrifice on aesthetics either, as crews will be using specialized dyes and suspended aggregates to create visual interest and a less austere interior feeling.

The new Huntington East Middle School will consolidate two of Huntington’s middle school campuses – Beverly Hills Middle School and Enslow Middle School – under one eco-conscious roof. ZMM Architects & Engineers provided a design for the new school that emphasizes green technologies like solar-powered exterior lighting systems and a roof-mounted rainwater collection basin to supply water to the building’s toilets. The facility will be the first LEED Silver-certified middle school in the state of West Virginia.

PBI is providing the construction management and general trades work on the project, which is expected to wrap up in time for the 2013-2014 academic year. “We’re installing all the foundations, concrete slabs, masonry, structural steel, interior finishes and site work,” says Captain. Even before PBI signed onto the project crews had completed over $1.2 million in site preparation work. The work included the demolition of the West Virginia Colored Orphan’s Home, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Balancing Old and New

The building’s historic significance was a bit of a curve ball in the progress of the school’s construction, but an agreement was finally reached between Cabell County Schools and the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office that determined the building would be demolished in exchange for keeping the site’s heritage alive in the new middle school’s curriculum. A comprehensive written history of the site would be prepared by professional historians, a permanent exhibit would be arranged and prominently displayed within the new school and every eighth grade student would learn about the history of the Orphan’s Home in the West Virginia Studies course.

In the meantime, construction crews will be taking extra care to coordinate work and protect the polished concrete floors. “Polished concrete floors leave you no ability to make further adjustments down the road,” admits Captain. “We have to coordinate and be very vocal with all of the prime contractors on the project to make sure that all of the trades focus on protecting those floors.”

PBI is no stranger to the public bid market or to projects where continual coordination is tantamount to the project’s success. The company completed work on a $17 million renovation to a 13-story office building that the state purchased to house the West Virginia Lottery Commission. The renovation targeted virtually every square inch of the Charleston, W. Va., building, including structural improvements and upgrades to all mechanical, electrical, and fire protection systems, as well as a total overhaul of three passenger elevators and one freight elevator.

Early signs point to further growth ahead for the PBI team, and Captain hopes to see the company spread its wings a bit in the next few years. “We’re going to be looking to expand into eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio, but wherever we go we’ll be focused on continuing to uphold our reputation as one of the premier contractors in the Huntington-Charleston area,” states Captain.

As the team rises to the various opportunities looming on the horizon, Paramount Builders Inc. will leverage experience, determination and strategic planning to continually deliver exceptionally polished projects.

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