Calvary Fellowship Homes Kitchen & Dining Renovation

From time-to-time, we share articles describing some of our completed projects. This month’s article features a kitchen and dining renovation project for Calvary Fellowship Homes in Lancaster, PA.

The Project

When our project manager first heard that he would be working on a small interior renovation two blocks away from his house, he could barely contain his excitement. After the first meeting with our Preconstruction Department, it became evident that this project was going to be far more interesting and challenging than at first glance. The Calvary Fellowship Homes kitchen renovation was a very demolition intense project, and was located in the middle of an existing Independent senior living apartment building. Demolition, along with existing conditions and limited space below, provided some challenges that Benchmark had to overcome. An extremely detailed plan and schedule developed by our on-site team helped provide the specialty contractors with direction and the ability to provide our client with the best finished product possible.

Sometimes you have to tear things down in order to build them up…

Prior to the start of demolition, Benchmark’s on-site carpenters constructed a 12-foot-high by 80-foot-long temporary partition around the entire project site to prevent dust, debris and noise from affecting the surrounding areas and residents. However, with four chipping hammers and carts of block continuously being hauled out for three weeks, noise levels were still high. The bulk of the noise was produced by removing 5,000 SF of fully grouted CMU walls. Due to the nature of the facility, gas powered equipment could not be used for the demolition work. Electrical powered equipment and good old fashioned elbow grease were used to prevent fumes from disrupting the lives of the elderly residents. Negative air machines with HEPA filters were also used to help reduce the spread of infectious or contaminated air.

The plumbing demolition was extremely difficult as well. All of the existing plumbing lines were fed from a four-foot-high crawl space below the existing kitchen; however a great deal of this plumbing also fed areas outside the kitchen’s footprint. There were very few valves in place to help isolate the systems, so our team scheduled several after-hours shut downs to perform the demolition and installation of new valves to keep existing water services available.


Following demolition of the existing kitchen, our team uncovered an interesting obstacle. Upon removal of the plaster ceilings in a vacant apartment, we discovered a secondary roof below the concrete deck of the second floor. Apparently, a two-story addition was added onto the original building 30 years ago and the contractor performing the work left the existing roof in place. This old roof had to be removed in order for the new duct work to be installed and allow the underside of the second floor to be fire rated. The old roof was built up with tar and insulation and smelled like rotten eggs when it was disrupted.

Keeping it quiet

After the secondary roof was removed, an above ceiling inspection was required from the local code official. During the inspection, the code official indicated that we would need to install an acoustical barrier that provided a Sound Transmission Coefficient (STC) rating of 55 or better between the new dining room and the residential apartments above. Again, this was no small task. Benchmark and RLPS Architects engaged an acoustical engineer from Clair Brothers to help create the newly required design. When the final design was completed, Benchmark conducted a meeting with all specialty contractors, as well as the owner and design professionals, to evaluate what was needed to accomplish the new design intent. The new STC rating required Benchmark to attach two layers of 5/8-inch drywall to the underside of the existing steel joist. This meant that all mechanical work that had been done to date (including existing mechanicals) had to be removed or disconnected to allow for installation of the new layers of gypsum board. It also meant lost space between the existing joist and the proposed finished ceiling heights. This left little wiggle room for the new duct and HVAC system to be installed. It also meant that lower ceiling heights and new soffits were added in order to get the new duct, piping and light fixtures installed. In essence, the MEP work, ceiling work and coordination drawings had to be completely re-designed in order to accommodate the acoustical change set forth by the inspector and acoustical engineer.

A New Gathering Space

Before this project began, the community didn’t have a central dining area where residents could enjoy a home cooked meal in the company of good neighbors. To elevate the level of excitement around the transformation of the existing kitchen, Benchmark installed two viewing windows to help the residents “keep an eye” on the construction progress throughout the day. The viewing windows also allowed Benchmark’s superintendent to engage in conversations with the residents and address any concerns they had at that moment. Benchmark also held weekly owner’s meetings where questions or concerns were brought to the table regarding construction activity. These concerns were quickly addressed and residents were updated promptly following the meetings. The space opened in the spring of 2015 and offers residents the ability to gather together and dine in style.

With just five months to complete the project, Benchmark was faced with the task of making sure all work was precisely coordinated, planned and thought through to the smallest detail. Due to the project delays brought about by surprising revelations during demolition, weekly coordination meetings were instituted by Benchmark and its team of subcontractors. These weekly coordination meetings not only helped with design and code changes, but also helped to maintain project schedule and budget. The new kitchen at Calvary Homes is now one of our favorite projects and leaves behind the lasting impression of perseverance and integrity.

Food Service brightened 1