Our people enhance communities through smart, innovative structures.

It’s artfully displayed on a wall in every Schaefer office. A team member speaks on it at every staff meeting. And our people live it every day.

While we take our purpose into account while working on commercial projects, another way that we enhance our communities is by giving back. Our volunteer events are not only appreciated by our team members for a chance to get out of the office and do their part, but we also use it as an opportunity for our co-op students to run a real project site. That’s right – our co-ops are in charge!

This summer, Schaefer teamed with People Working Cooperatively (PWC) to rebuild a dilapidated deck for a 92-year-old homeowner in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Schaefer project team was headed by three University of Cincinnati co-ops who were in charge of the drawings, communication and recruiting volunteers.

To kick-off the project, PWC and Schaefer performed a preliminary site visit to determine what needed to be done. We found no footings beneath the left side of the original deck framing causing it to slant severely to that side. The deck also supported the awning roof above via three wood columns which were original to the home and needed replacing. Luckily, the majority of the deck boards and all the joists were reusable. Measurements and photos were taken, and the Schaefer team headed back to the office to crunch numbers. The co-ops were aided in their calculations by two engineers who specialize in wood construction; they worked together to compile a set of drawings to submit for permit which included a set of general notes, site location, a new framing plan, details of various connections, and a stair detail. Once the drawings were permitted, the co-ops were tasked with recruiting other Schaefer team members to help rebuild the deck. In the end, 17 Schaefer team members signed up between the three shifts on August 14 + 15.

On the first day, volunteers started work on the column placement and beam construction. The outside and center beams were made of three 2x8s to cut down on construction cost. The beams were made to sit into pockets within an existing stone wall; after the stone had been chiseled away, the beams were placed, and the pocket was filled with grout. The joists were all reused but needed to be shimmed into place as they had shrunk at least a quarter inch in depth. On the morning of the second day, the joists were all set in place and the deck boards were reinstalled. New deck boards were placed under the locations were the columns would bear. The new 6×6 wood columns were then cut and put in place while another crew started on the construction of the front stair. It proved to be difficult getting the stair treads level when the stringers were placed on an uneven existing sidewalk slab. After the stairs were complete, work started on the railings. They were installed by another volunteer crew who finished the deck the following Saturday.

Overall, the deck was built by Schaefer and PWC in a span of two days. The homeowner was very appreciative and enjoyed the refurbished deck while watching a local parade the following weekend.

Article originally posted in Allied Construction Industries The Construction Magazine.

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