Coastal construction projects, particularly those set in Oregon during the winter months, bring with them a host of obstacles; material selection and availability, limited resources, and weather can all challenge what would already be an intricate and laborious process. Given P&C’s 20+ years building in seaside communities such as Astoria, Rockaway Beach, and Coos Bay, we thought it beneficial to explore some of those challenges below.
Winter Construction + the Oregon Coast
By: Brian Shoemaker and Ryan Kelley
Aside from the obvious safety measures a construction crew must adhere to in any given location, the Oregon Coast, beautifully predictable in its unpredictability, demands a higher level of attention, planning, and security. Severe weather will almost certainly limit visibility and change the surface of tools, roads, roofs, and scaffolding, all of which collectively increase the risk for injury and falls. Safety precautions must be checked, rechecked and checked again, as any crew working on the coast from October through March can expect the full breadth of what mother nature can offer; short days, severe rain, flood warnings, tsunamis, thunder, lightning, and perhaps most severe of all – wind. As of this posting P&C is currently working on seismic upgrades and a complete remodel of the fire station in Depoe Bay located only a few hundred feet from the coast line, squarely in a Class D wind zone where gusts can exceed 90mph. While work on the fire station project began in March of 2016, construction would extend well into the winter of 2017, therefore it was in accordance with P&C’s guiding principles that all permanent protection be in place by October so that all staged materials could be properly braced and the site could be secured; come November the window of opportunity to perform on schedule becomes vastly unreliable.
And, as if the dangers of high speed winds weren’t enough, windblown rain presents a different obstacle in the form of water intrusion; ergo careful attention must be made to all installation procedures, especially where flashing and sheet metal is concerned. Often wind forces water in different directions which works against the cascading materials and eventually creates a path for water, making building envelope review prior to construction that much more critical.
Even when the weather conditions are optimal, however, coastal construction projects (and their crews) must also contend with high amounts of salt in the air and dust from the beaches. Special consideration must be paid to everything from the building materials to the mechanical equipment to each individual fastener.
The metal fins and delicate coils of HVAC and mechanical units are naturally susceptible to the harsh salty air and while it’s true that some manufacturers offer “marine” grade equipment and/or “seacoast” warranties, to minimize corrosion it is crucial to select not only the best units for each project, but to add protective coatings and make sure those units are installed in a location least affected by the elements.
Rain and wind, salt and corrosion; it’s true that construction on the Oregon Coast is challenging, most especially during winter months. But like most endeavors the greater the risk, the greater the reward!