Case Studies

Maury River Middle School

Maury River Middle School
  • Written by: Jeanee Dudley
  • Produced by: Maury River Middle School
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

In 2011 Virginia’s Rockbridge County School District addressed the need to merge two middle schools, Rockbridge Middle School and Maury River Middle School (MRMS), into one building. In order to make space for incoming students, the school board noted the necessity of expanding and renovating the MRMS building. The consolidation will reduce maintenance costs, allowing the district to offer better educational services to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in the area. MB Contractors (MBC), a turnkey construction company based in Roanoke, Va., accepted the contract for the MRMS expansion in 2012, breaking ground in early July of the same year.

MBC has a diverse portfolio of both public and private sector projects, and frequently works on school projects. “As a company, we have quite a bit of experience in this sector,” says Michael Depp, project manager for MBC. “I have been with this company for about one year. I have been in the industry since high school, around 1999. I started as an electrician’s helper and then went to school. When I came out, I got into general contracting. This company has been around for a long time and the opportunity was there, so I went for it. The business has been a really good fit for me.”

Project Details

“We are performing additions and renovations to the existing school,” Depp explains. “Essentially, we are doing 130,000 square feet of work altogether. Everything has to come together in less than in 16 months for a contract sum of roughly $23.9 million. That’s about typical for this area. We have done a number of other middle schools and high schools in the area and they are all about the same size. The area has to be larger for the student body. The district is combining two schools into one. We are scheduled to be substantially complete by mid-August 2013, with final completion Sept. 13.”

Depp is the first to admit the company – though highly capable evidenced by the multitude of successful projects – had to overcome some obstacles. “The biggest challenge was the student body still being in the school while we were working,” Depp continues. “We had to finish 18,000 square feet in less than six months so we could move students in. The amount of coordination involved was extensive. Students had to move from the existing space to the new addition, without losing access to the temporary classroom trailers located on the opposite side of the school. All this was done in conjunction with getting them safely to and from the bus drop-off area.”

Therefore, the team proceeded with caution. “The new section is operated by mechanical and electrical systems, which are in the basement of another new addition,” he continues. “We had to excavate, build and dry in the basement before we could turn over the first classroom area. Coordination between the school, the design team and us came into play to create a temporary corridor that had lights and air conditioning. We had to ensure separation between ongoing work and the student body, and did so by coordinating closely with the school and county administrators.”

Important Partnerships

MBC self-performed several aspects of the contract, including doors, frames, hardware, rough carpentry, general labor and cleanup. The rest of the contract is in the hands of a group of subcontractors, many of whom the company has worked with before.

“We based our sub selection on prior experience with the contractors,” Depp explains. “We are in the southwest Virginia Roanoke area. We have built relationships with many local contractors and we know what they can and can’t do. Being in close contact with them, we have been going over apples to apples – relative to their work scopes and our expectations – how we see project playing out, and things of that nature. Although we research our subs’ financial wherewithal prior to award, we never have that guarantee they will be there in the end nowadays, so that is always a risk. We do, however, have measures in place that allow us to monitor our subs’ business transactions. The key is making sure they know what we expect.”

While the project does not have any set LEED certification goals, the district is investing in sustainable technology for the building’s heating and cooling system. Before the MBC team began its portion of the project, geothermal wells had been drilled on the property. “We had to install all the mains to the field, as well as the pumps and mechanical systems,” Depp notes. “Drilling for fields was the only thing done prior to us starting on the project.”

The project team is delivering on several end-use designs for the school. The geothermal system will reduce energy costs and the school’s carbon footprint while the building’s space will accommodate the larger, incoming student body.

“We have a few means for determining our success as a contractor,” Depp explains. “We want to make sure we finish on time and on budget, so communication is vital. You have to make sure the information is being transferred to all parties effectively. We manage our requests for information, fabrications and deliveries while tracking key materials and items to make sure all of the information flow is there.”

Despite all challenges, Depp maintains a cool head. “You always worry about your site, and you try to not let it keep you up at night,” he continues. “Our goal, in addition to being on time and on budget, is for everyone to follow safety and site standards. With a well-run site as this, our worries are lessened.”

Depp is proud to note that the MRMS project is currently on schedule. With a solid safety and performance record, MB Contractors will be turning around Maury River Middle School in time for new students to arrive for the next academic year.

For more information about MB Contractors, please visit:

Published on: November 20, 2013

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