Case Studies

Callahan Construction Managers

The path to the first commercial use passive house project in New England

For two generations, Bridgewater, Massachusetts-based Callahan Construction Managers, a family company, has been bringing projects to life from inception to completion with services designed to meet every phase of construction. Pre-construction, construction management, design-build and design assist as well as the ability to self-perform site work — Callahan Construction Managers has mastered efficient project delivery throughout New England.

Family ties

Founded in 1954 by Jack and Marie Callahan, Callahan Construction Managers is growing on second-generation ownership. Since opening, more than 20 family members have been involved in the business and current president, Patrick Callahan, has been with the company since 1988.

After graduating from Plymouth State College, Patrick joined his parents’ business and he has gained leadership experience in all areas of management, including finance, legal, planning and business development. “The most important part of our business is the family name; our honesty, integrity and transparency is something our clients have come to expect in working with our project teams,” says Patrick.

Callahan Construction Managers

Timothy Callahan is vice president of Callahan Construction Managers. In addition to his corporate responsibilities, he manages Callahan Construction’s site work division. This includes oversight of all Callahan controlled sites, as well as sites that are contracted out to other civil subcontractors. He coordinates planning during all phases of site development to help ensure projects get off to a good start.

Callahan Construction Managers has made a name in mixed-use, multifamily, senior housing, hospitality and corporate sectors. This work has been done primarily for private developers, and has increasingly entailed more goals and requirements within the sustainability sphere, with many projects built to LEED standards and LEED certification. With primarily LEED accredited professionals on staff, Callahan Construction Managers’ team is well-suited to meet the needs of these unique projects.

“A lot of our projects involve sustainability goals and we have been involved in a great number of projects seeking/achieving LEED certification,” says Steve Callahan, Jr., project executive at Callahan Construction Managers.

Southern New Hampshire retreat opts for Passive Home Standards

The company is currently involved in the first of its kind Passive House Standard project to be built in New England — Alnoba in Kensington, New Hampshire. “This is not your typical project,” says Steve. “This project is the first building of its kind in New England to meet the Passive House Standard and we’re one of the first to get to work on this type of job.”

Callahan Construction Managers

Located on the Pinnacle Leadership Foundation property, Alnoba is part of the Lewis Family Foundation and its goal is to be an integrated model of conservation and sustainability. In addition, the organization offers leadership, team development and health and wellness programs, as well as art and nature installations and exhibits.

The vision of Alnoba is to provide a home-like environment to serve as a gathering place and retreat. “Alnoba will host community groups, weddings, special events, company meetings and retreats and is just one of many facilities on the Pinnacle Leadership property,” notes Chad Griller, project manager for Callahan Construction Managers.

Construction kicked off in November 2014 and Steve and Chad have seen the project come to life from the ground up. “When I joined the project team in March 2015 it was just slab on deck and the foundation,” Chad recounts. “Now things are really starting to take shape.”

Structural challenges

Alnoba is a hybrid of four interconnected timber frames — one reclaimed from a 200-year-old barn in Maine — atop a concrete and steel lower level. “A structural steel system gives the timbers lateral support, while a stick framed overbuild levels the roof lines and exterior walls while holding the structural insulated panels [SIPS] in place,” explains Chad.Callahan Construction Managers

Connecting the structural steel and overbuild to the reclaimed timber frames presented challenges for the project team. By coordinating between trades, including the timber framer, steel subcontractor and structural engineer, Callahan Construction Managers developed alternate connection details that allowed for the naturally occurring inconsistencies in the timbers.

“After determining that certain steel members could not be fabricated in the shop, we coordinated timber framing and steel work so that the steel members could be shipped to the site, field measured and fabricated on-site for a custom fit,” says Chad.

Building to a new standard

Structural challenges aside, Callahan Construction Managers also had to keep in mind Passive House Standards throughout the construction. At 13,920 square feet, Alnoba is the first building of its kind in New England to meet this standard. “Construction is starting to move in the direction of the Passive House Standard, but it’s still relatively new in the market; the building practice originated in Germany,” says Chad. “A lot of the efficient products that went into this project came from Europe, including the triple-pane windows and a curtainwall system requiring very specific air and vapor barrier tapes and sealants.”

At the core of Alnoba’s design is a highly insulated shell, 12 to 14 inches thick. “This covers the entire building envelope and makes solar heat recovery easier to do,” explains Chad. “On a really cold New England day the temperature isn’t going to fluctuate like it would in other buildings due to the building’s insulation levels.”

Alnoba is quite a step outside of Callahan Construction Managers’ usual scope, making it a landmark project for the company as it looks to expand.

The design also includes low energy consuming equipment throughout and high-end exterior finishes. “This is the first Passive House of its kind to have a chimney and working fireplace,” adds Chad.

Throughout the 14-plus month timeline Callahan Construction Managers has faced scheduling issues and design changes, all adding challenges to an already complex project. “With so many products coming from Europe, we faced some challenges in lead time and delivery with products coming through customs and being delivered to small-town New Hampshire,” says Chad. “With subs from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and other states, oftentimes they were traveling two-plus hours to get to the project.”

This project will be wrapping up throughout the summer months, finishing landscaping and exterior touches. “The completion date is set for August 2016,” says Chad. “The owner would like to open the doors for events in the fall.”

Alnoba is quite a step outside of Callahan Construction Managers’ usual scope, making it a landmark project for the company as it looks to expand. “We’re always looking to diversify and grow into new markets,” says Steve.

This expansion comes more naturally with a solid reputation and a portfolio of repeat customers; something Callahan Construction Managers has worked to build over the last 60-plus years. “We’re doing multiple jobs for many of our clients — that’s the most telling measure of success for any construction company — that the client is coming back to you again and again,” says Steve.

Building on a trusted industry name, Callahan Construction Managers is tackling first-of-a-kind projects and looking at promising new markets to deliver its inception-to-completion construction approach.

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