ColonialWebb

Colonial WebbColonialWebb uses prefabrication to increase efficiency as a subcontractor for the second-tallest building in Richmond, Va.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

From initial design to completion, ColonialWebb offers a turnkey construction experience for its clients. The company prides itself on having the expertise to take on any new construction challenge, including 600 Canal Place, which will be Richmond, Va.’s second-tallest building.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, the Richmond, Va.-based company began in 1972 as Colonial Mechanical and specialized in HVAC. First Energy acquired the company in 1998 along with Webb Technologies, which eventually resulted in the formation of ColonialWebb. In 2010, ComfortSystems USA Inc., a Houston-based provider of commercial, industrial and institutional HVAC services, acquired ColonialWebb.

Today, ColonialWebb serves mechanical contracting, HVAC and industrial refrigeration customers in Virginia, Maryland North Carolina and South Carolina. With eight operations locations and more than 750 employees, the company and history continues to grow and embrace a changing industry.

“ColonialWebb remains committed to delighting clients, fulfilling employees needs and providing quality work,” the company says. “Our tremendous growth is a direct result of that quality work and from successfully expanding services to existing customers and attracting high-quality companies into our network of subsidiary companies.” ColonialWebb box

Vice President of Construction Brett Mutnick came to ColonialWebb 21 years ago after graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology with an engineering degree. “At the time it was Colonial Mechanical and it was a good opportunity to be a business operator and use my engineering background,” he remembers. “As a project manager, you run the business, you are the contact for the customer, and you must deliver.”

Mutnick received his MBA while working at ColonialWebb and says working for the company has been more than just a solid career path. “Driving around Richmond, Va., where we are headquartered, I can’t go more than a few miles without seeing a facility we haven’t built, renovated or maintained,” he adds.

High-Profile Builds

ColonialWebb has been tasked with building 600 Canal Place, Richmond’s second-tallest building and the new Dominion Energy headquarters. Dominion Energy supplies electricity to parts of Virginia and North Carolina and natural gas to West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and eastern North Carolina.

Dominion says the building is a “strategic investment in the future of our company, our employees and Richmond.” When completed, the 20-story office tower will reach 417 feet tall.

ColonialWebb submitted final proposals in June 2016 for 600 Canal Place and was awarded the $32 million contract one month later. The design and construction team is led by a joint venture between Richmond-based general contractor Hourigan Construction and Clayco, a Chicago-based developer. Kendall Heaton Associates is the record architect and Pickard Chilton is the design architect.

600 Canal Place is a 960,000-square-foot energy-efficient building that will not only be an addition to the Richmond skyline, but also house retail space and more than 1,000 Dominion Energy employees. The project is expected to be completed in January 2019.

“We are helping to build this new tower that will have Dominion Energy’s name on it,” Mutnick explains. “It is a symbol of pride for all of our employees as we are part of the team. A second tower is also being considered by Dominion adjacent to this one, which would begin construction in 2019.”

Prefab Efficiencies

ColonialWebb has been using building information modeling (BIM) for years as a tool to detect clashes and improve coordination among the trades, design engineers and architects. “By sharing 3-D models with all stakeholders, we take our clients on a virtual walk-through the project and detect coordination conflicts before the construction process begins,” the company says. “As construction projects get more and more complex, it’s essential to limit risks and eliminate mistakes before work begins.”

The company began BIM earlier this year on 600 Canal Place and is now on-site performing underground plumbing work, HVAC ductwork, piping systems and sleeves. “The first couple floors required heavy coordination,” Mutnick says. “The challenge becomes getting material up to the remaining floors because what you don’t want is have crews going up and down the building all day.”

To meet this challenge and increase efficiency on 600 Canal Place, ColonialWebb is prefabricating its materials off-site in its manufacturing facilities and using tower cranes to hoist the materials up to the right floors. “It’s all about coordinated procurement and timing of our fabrication to make it to the construction site just-in-time,” Mutnick explains.

“We are implementing our plans to modularize duct plenums, damper sections, control wiring and piping hookups on 32 purchased air handlers,” he continues. “After modularization we are setting two floors of air-handling units at a time starting at the fifth floor and will work our way up to the 20th floor.”

ColonialWebb’s detailing team uses 3-D CAD software to create coordination drawings, shop drawings and installation drawings for HVAC, piping and plumbing systems. Its in-house manufacturing facilities use the latest technology to meet and exceed its clients’ cost and quality parameters.

Prefabrication has become the go-to method of installation in the construction industry. ColonialWebb has been using this method since 2002, prefabricating duct and pipe prefab work off-site and installing everything fabricated in the field.

At 600 Canal Place, the company is installing everything in the air-handling units before they are delivered for even greater efficiency. “Even the control contractor is coming and putting parts and pieces in to save everyone time,” Mutnick says.

Safely Constructed

On-the-job safety is a major focus at ColonialWebb and the company has dedicated safety professionals on-site at 600 Canal Place. “We push safety out to everyone,” Mutnick says. “We use SafetyNet from Predictive Solutions to perform safety assessments, we walk the job site to see what needs to be done and before starting a task we do a review of the right tools to use and protective equipment to wear.”

Safety is at the forefront of every project and starts during the estimation process. Prefabrication is also a way to increase safety on the job, Mutnick says. “Our team meets weekly to determine the right people for the job and what tools and equipment need to be on the job,” he adds. “We go through everything.”

ColonialWebb also has a full-time project management team on-site because the project is unique in its height and downtown Richmond location. “It looks like a normal office building, but because of its height and where it is located downtown, there is not a lot of logistical space or access,” Mutnick explains. “This is a unique project, so we have to apply a lot of our mission-critical techniques and practices in advance of our activities, like creating daily work-flows, task plans and ‘methods of procedure plans.’”

Without a laydown area, ColonialWebb says staging and schedules are vital at 600 Canal Place. “Everything has to be scheduled,” Mutnick says. “There were street closures so we could bring equipment in and subcontractors have to schedule that. This project requires you to plan ahead weeks in advance and schedule everything per hour and per day.”

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