Querencia Balconies Restored by Commercial Specialty Contractor

Posted on: July 23, 2020 7 PM

Austin, TX is home to one of Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation’s luxurious senior living communities, The Querencia at Barton Creek. This 38-acre campus encompasses tasteful residences, a sparkling pool, an art gallery, a wine-tasting excursion, unique bistro dining and a multiuse fitness center. Their quality of living and resident care recently won recognition as a Masterpiece Living Certified Center for Successful Aging. Chamberlin’s Querencia Balcony Repair project included waterproofing and restoring the exterior balconies and windows to rejuvenate the prestigious life care community.

While installing nearly 190,000 square feet of waterproofing products, Chamberlin met challenges such as terrain obstacles, design changes, resident accommodations and time constraints. This scope was completed in 20 months with a total contract amount of nearly $5,700,000. Teamwork, innovation and proactive planning made it possible to deliver quality waterproofing to this campus productively and on time to serve the facilities and their residents for years to come.


A large challenge came when trying to demolish the concrete around the windows with the chipping hammer. The chipping hammer had a 2-inch chisel that was used to break down the concrete creating a vibration that shook not only the area Chamberlin was demolishing but also the surrounding structures. The glass windows are delicate and could easily break if the vibration was not reduced. Chamberlin used insulation to support the window frame and muffle the force of the vibrations to a minimum. This reduced the risk of breaking the windows and added some noise cancellation to accommodate the residents' needs as well.

As Chamberlin began their waterproofing scope, crews discovered damage and deterioration in the wooden balcony decks. The glulam beams were rotted and needed to be completely demolished and replaced. After demolition, only the skeleton of steel beams remained in place. Since there was no deck left to stand on, a plan was created to allow crews to safely install the new decking while being tied off 100% of the time. Crew members working from scaffolding surrounding the balcony framework used multiple anchor points depending on their access point, such as the top of the building, handrails and the balcony above. To ensure that all crew members were able to safely stand on what was remaining of the deck, shoring locations were added to the base of the stacks to brace the balconies and prevent any possibility of the structure collapsing.

Four stacks of balconies were so heavily deteriorated they had to be completely demolished and rebuilt.  Chamberlin and French Engineering worked together to create a design for this construction. This added time to the project that was not originally planned, but Chamberlin was determined to keep on track and had up to 50 crew members working at once to meet the original schedule.

In June of 2017, lumber costs skyrocketed 17%(CNN Money). When it comes to pricing, Project Estimator James Clements keeps an eye out for what’s to come and was prepared for this increase. Chamberlin bought lumber and pavers in bulk before the increase, which avoided the 17% raise and also negotiated discounted pricing for buying in bulk. Chamberlin also implemented strategic purchasing by implementing material buy downs to reduce the interest rate for the materials bought in bulk.


To minimize disruption to the residents the on-site trailer and parking location for the crew was put on the opposite end of the 38 acres. In between the job site and the drop trailer were hiking trails for the residents and a beautiful landscape with trees, valleys and creeks. This terrain made it difficult to reach the job site and added time to get to and fro. Project Manager Brett Schropp came up with an environmentally-friendly plan to save time.

Chamberlin was approved to devise a direct path through the woods for crew members and machinery to easily access the job site. The path was made out of crushed limestone called caliche that is biodegradable. At times, Chamberlin had up to 20 crew members working on the job. Since the terrain is rather hilly, the walk from the job site to the trailer was 15-20 minutes. Using a van to transport the crew to and from the parking location on this direct path saved Chamberlin up to ten hours a day in production time. This path also allowed Project Manager Schropp to be readily available and observe, oversee and mentor the crew when needed within minutes from the on-site trailer.


Querencia was still a functioning and active senior living facility during the renovations. Chamberlin was conscious of the residents’ schedules and strived to keep interruptions to a minimum. Work only commenced from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Crews began their work by sealing the windows on the exterior side with window film to help mitigate dust penetrating the tenant’s living space. When needed, insulation was added to muffle noise as well. 

At times, Chamberlin had up to 50 crew members working together to meet the project’s schedule. Chamberlin Waterproofing Project Manager Brett Schropp cites teamwork and safety as the main contributing factors to their success saying, “this project had unforeseen obstacles that could have not only added time to the project but also created safety hazards for the crew. Our team was prepared for these challenges and stepped in to cover any extra time. With further deterioration to the base of the balconies, safety was the top priority to keep the crew safe and also the residents at Querencia.” 

Chamberlin communicated on a daily basis with the property engineer and had weekly meetings every Monday with the French Engineering. During these meetings, the upcoming week’s schedule was broken down daily, the residents’event schedule was reviewed and work was planned accordingly to maintain comfort for the residents. The jobsite plan was posted in the facilities to make the residents aware of the project progress. Teamwork was key to organizing the movement from one balcony to the next.

 Chamberlin also presented a productivity schedule for the next six weeks at the weekly meetings. Chamberlin’s project manager, project estimator and superintendent were all involved in the meetings to keep all team members on track throughout the duration of the project.


French Engineering, a company with 30 years of national consulting experience, conducted weekly quality assurance inspections throughout the project to verify compliance with project specifications and submitted subsequent reports. Additionally, they completed an inspection and punch list on each stack of balconies as they were completed. Chamberlin’s work consistently passed with high marks, and the consultants and owner were very pleased with the final outcome.

When the atypical condition regarding the balcony deterioration was encountered, French investigated the issue and went to work to find a solution. They would issue SK sketches detailing the resolution for Chamberlin to execute. Weekly progress meetings were attended by Chamberlin, French Engineering and the owner’s representative. These meetings determined the project schedule, change orders and much more to help everyone stay on the same page and to ensure the project stayed on track. The Querencia representatives were extremely pleased with Chamberlin’s project management and quality work delivered professionally in a timely manner.

In addition, Chamberlin conducted their own daily quality control inspections to be proactive and meet the owner’s needs. Chamberlin also had Waterproofing Project Manager Brett Schropp easily accessible at an onsite trailer for the duration of the project. This kept Chamberlin on top of the weekly job reports that totaled 75 at the conclusion of the project implemented by French Engineering and ready for any challenges that came their way.

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