Author Archives: Jasper Calcara

Gaining Knowledge – Trench & Shoring Safety

The excavation shoring industry is consistently faced with the age-old challenges of working in unstable & changing soil conditions, managing groundwater, and protecting adjacent structures/utilities, while attempting to complete their work in a safe manner and remaining profitable.  With projects getting progressively larger and more complicated, coupled with laws and specifications outlining very strict design, safety and submittal requirements, it takes extremely educated and experienced contractors to compete in today’s world.

DHC has always balanced their quest to provide excellent design services with being proactive in educating their customer base.  With essentially every shoring project bringing a new set of conditions to the table, it presents an opportunity for our experienced engineers to discuss the potential challenges and shoring options available.  It is critical that contractors at the front line of bidding, planning and performing this work, understand the risks and benefits of various approaches, as well as associated costs.

Over the years, DHC has educated thousands of contractors and engineers in the efficient solutions and newest technologies available in the shoring industry, as well as taught the basics of understanding borelogs, OSHA standards, railroad loading, surcharges, dewatering, deflection issues, and much more.

We’ve enjoyed taking our knowledge from designing shoring products, such as slide rail and trench shields for manufacturers, coupled with our experience preparing thousands of site specific plans, to develop cutting edge and complicated solutions to shoring project.  Some examples include: standing trench shields vertical and designing removable spreaders to construct a 40’ x 40’ x 24’-deep pit, providing clearances necessary to construct a large cast in place concrete structure, or mixing hydraulic bracing systems with slide rail, in order to provide a hybrid solution for many projects.

Although we will always maintain our quest to spread knowledge throughout the industry in efforts to ensure safety and productivity advancements are made, please feel free to contact us directly to discuss any specific project you may have.  If more detailed or extensive training is desired, we can discuss remote or in-person sessions.  We are happy to provide support during the bid phase, or to answer clarification questions on tab data, project specs or anything else related to your job, free of charge.  We look forward to helping the industry recognize shoring as a critical component of a successful project, worthy of careful planning and consideration, vs. the last min obstacle it has been traditionally viewed as.

Habitat For Humanity

Giving Back – A Day with Habitat for Humanity

Habitat For HumanityWhile developing custom designs for contractors throughout the United States and Canada, the engineers at DHC are lucky enough to visit active construction sites on a regular basis. Nonetheless, the Southern California team gained a new level of appreciation for manual labor, when they checked their calculators at the door and put in a hard day’s work for Habitat for Humanity.

The team rolled up bright and early to a series of partially constructed homes in Escondido. The residences are being built by a rotating team of volunteers joined by the future homeowners, as has been regular practice in building more than 1 million since Habitat’s inception in 1968.

Habitat For HumanityAfter a quick orientation and round of engineer jokes from the other volunteers and regulars, the group split up to tackle various tasks. John and Chong joined a team who textured and painted the interior of several houses. The walls and ceilings looked great, but Chong’s new frosted tip hairstyle was by far the most impressive thing painted that day.

Habitat For HumanityThankfully it was an abnormally cool afternoon in east San Diego, as there was no lack of dirt work to be performed. The drafting duo of Sam and Derek spent the day grading around the new driveway, pulling utility pipe, and commenting on the other employee’s work ethic. In the meantime, Mitch and Jasper excavated a footing and pier, placed rebar, and built forms for a new trash enclosure.

Regardless of title or experience, there were nothing but smiles and good attitudes throughout the day, as the DHC group happily filled the role of job site “grunts”. As the day came to a close, the site was cleaned up for the day, everyone exchanging hugs and high fives, the very dirty and tired group headed home for a very good night’s sleep.

Habitat For HumanityWe would like to thank the incredible organization Habitat for Humanity, who made us feel welcome and appreciated throughout the entire process, as well as our very supportive customers who where understanding and encouraging when we closed the offices to volunteer. Also a big thanks to Robin Ko and Josh Rubero, who organized the events, and the rest of the team at DHC who showed the same level of care and quality on the construction site that they do every day at work in the office.

Habitat for Humanity Project

A Day with Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County

Habitat for Humanity ProjectDHC enjoyed the opportunity to help the community with a volunteer day for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.  We met at the project site in Cotati, CA, where a new house was being built for a very appreciative family.

Habitat for Humanity does not simply give away houses; the families have to go through a rigorous application process.  Each family has to currently live in sub-par housing, and meet certain income requirements.  After they are selected, Habitat requires the families meet a 500 “sweat hours” goal, which means they get to help build the home they will soon be living in.

Habitat for Humanity ProjectOur volunteer day started with meeting our job site foreman, who showed us the safety equipment, introduced us to the other volunteers, and handed out the day’s assignments.  That day they were pouring concrete foundations, building re-bar cages, putting up a fence and performing general jobsite maintenance.

Right off the bat, Mark and Chris were assigned to help with the foundation construction by leveling out freshly placed concrete.  While the foundation was being poured, another group was assigned the task of tying rebar cages for the next house to be built.  Each rebar cage required 30+ wire ties, twisted by hand, which secured the 4 vertical bars spiral reinforcement.  Nick, Robin, Josh & Katy gained a new appreciation for how much work is involved in fabricating the rebar they often design and detail on DHC design plans.

Habitat for Humanity ProjectFinn was initially given the assignment of clearing the large yard areas, with brush and weeds reaching over 4’-high.  After a steady dose of weedwacking, he handed off the job to James, who geared up with orange protective gear.  You never can be too safe!

The final group, including Luke, Ashley & Jenn focused on building the backyard fence.  After a feudal attempt to dig the postholes by hand in the extremely hard soil, a jackhammer was brought in, and the fence progressed quickly.  Many of the group rotated between tasks, including setting posts, ensuring fence alignment, moving dirt and pouring concrete.

Habitat for Humanity ProjectWe learned that having DHC volunteer for the single day, saved Habitat for Humanity over $3,000 in labor costs.  Habitat and the eventual building residents were extremely grateful, and the DHC team thoroughly enjoyed putting some “sweat hours” of their own into an extremely good cause.

Stay tuned for a report from the Southern California DHC’s community service day!