The beautiful and classic Lambeth House, an upscale continuing care retirement condominium, is auspiciously located between Audubon Park and the Mississippi River in Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana. It is known for providing the best of the best to its residents, and when it began facing water infiltration issues, Lambeth House needed the best contractor on the job.


Before Chamberlin arrived on site, another contractor had worked on Lambeth House in attempt to remedy water infiltration problems. However, they did not complete their contracted work. In fact, construction work was abandoned for a full four months before Chamberlin was brought in to complete the project. During those four months part of the building exterior was left without brick and in complete disarray with scaffolding and materials strewn about on resident balconies.


Chamberlin was chosen as the general contractor of this $4.2 million waterproofing and exterior restoration project largely because of the company’s ability to meet an aggressive schedule and our reputation for successfully managing projects of this size. Jeremy Bridwell, Project Engineer, EIT with French Engineering, Inc. added, “The project had a lot of complicated sheet metal assemblies and waterproofing specific work, which fit Chamberlin’s capabilities well.”


Chamberlin was excited to have the opportunity to work with French Engineering on a project of this magnitude due to their excellent reputation of creating high quality plans and specifications. Since the scope of work specified by French Engineering also included total replacement of all masonry, Chamberlin chose a reputable subcontractor to perform the brick removal and replacement: Lucia Masonry. In October of 2006, Chamberlin and Lucia began mobilizing the project by erecting 120 foot tall scaffolding to cover roughly three-quarters of the 12-story building.


Resident Safety

Since previous work by the former contractor was not complete, areas of Lambeth House were exposed to the elements without brick or any other facade. And although the remainder of the building was covered, about 75 percent of the old brick still needed to be demolished and re-waterproofed. Lucia demolished the exterior, Chamberlin installed W.R. Grace’s Perm-A-Barrier on the entire skin along with stainless steel flashing, then Lucia came back and re-bricked the building. Work was taking place on all 12 levels of the building at one time; all the while the facility was open and fully operational.


“The residents were very accommodating,” said Project Superintendent Johnny Rector, “they would even wave to us and watch as we worked outside of their kitchen or living room windows each day.” Keeping Lambeth residents safe was Chamberlin’s number one priority during the entire process.


In addition to the exterior demolition and reconstruction, Chamberlin waterproofed the building by replacing joint sealants and sheet metal flashing, coating balconies and terraces and repairing and replacing areas of the roof.


Mother Nature is No Match

Work on Lambeth House did not always go exactly as planned. In the early morning hours on February 13, a tornado touched down in New Orleans nearly tearing off a section of the 12-story scaffold near the front entrance. “Within hours of the incident a plan was in place to temporarily support and dismantle the scaffolding to prevent collapse and possible injury to residents and visitors, as well as further property damage,” said Senior Project Manager Shane Hubbard.


Two cranes, one with a man basket and one with a debris basket, were required to dismantle the scaffolding, which literally had to be cut into pieces and removed. “It was a challenging situation, but the scaffold was fully dismantled within four days and reconstructed in eight days without incident,” said Hubbard. The remainder of the scaffold system was inspected for safety and work resumed on the rest of the building the same day.


Mother Nature wasn’t the only challenge on the job. On top of the tornado, Scott Crabtree, CEO and Executive Director of Lambeth House, was notified that approximately 40-50 percent of the brick, which was originally purchased for the project two years earlier, was sold to another group during the four month delay before Chamberlin joined the project. “Chamberlin had to search the country to find another manufacturer,” said Crabtree, “they found the closest match they could so that we could continue on with the work without delay. I am very happy with the way that Chamberlin and French Engineering worked together to solve what could have been a major crisis.”


“Since Chamberlin arrived on site, the project has proceeded in a very professional and organized manner,” said Bridwell. The partnership amongst Chamberlin, Lucia, French Engineering and Lambeth House has been a symbiotic one. Close coordination and communication between all parties has been vital in overcoming challenges and completing a project of this size in a relatively short amount of time.


Residents Return to Life as Normal

The work at Lambeth House is on schedule to be complete this September. The scaffolding will finally be removed, and residents will soon be able to enjoy their patios and terraces again in peace and quiet—without the sound of construction taking place around them. “I am impressed with Chamberlin’s ability to work on a facility that is full of staff and residents 24 hours a day,” said Crabtree, “they have been very respectful and sensitive to the quality of life that we provide our residents,” he continued, “No offense to Chamberlin, but we will be happy when the construction is complete.”


No offense taken.