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Chamberlin Receives AGC Apex Award

Chamberlin was an APEX award winner at the Associated General Contractor's (AGC) Houston chapter gala on May 22, 2021. Evaluation criteria for the awards include quality of workmanship, contribution to the community, timely completion and difficulty of construction. The APEX awards recognize firms for their excellence in construction, their valuable contributions to the community and their demonstrated commitment to skill, integrity and responsibility. Chamberlin won a silver APEX award in the specialty contractor category of Renovation/Restoration for work performed on the Heights High School project in Houston, Texas.


Heights High School, formerly John H. Reagan, in Houston, Texas, is home to 165 staff members serving 3,000 students in grades nine through twelve and is part of the Houston Independent School District (HISD). The basement, housing an ROTC classroom in the upper half and a mechanical space in the lower half, suffered severe water infiltration issues due to unknown causes for over 20 years. Chamberlin was employed to put a stop to the leaks and seal the basement watertight. This included positive-side waterproofing below grade and installation of a French drain system.

Chamberlin overcame several challenges during this project. Once on the job, Chamberlin discovered excessive water underground around the building. It was unclear where the water was coming from, though it was clear this was the source of the water infiltration problems that had plagued the basement for decades. A permanent above-grade dewatering system was proposed to drain the water into the city storm system. Developing this system would take about eight months, so a temporary dewatering system was installed in the meantime to allow access to the building below grade so the necessary waterproofing scopes could be completed.

For additional help with the underground water, two catch basin sump pumps were installed to pump any rising groundwater out of the finished ROTC classroom into the storm sump pit lift station installed into the ground in the lower level of the basement. An exterior lift station was also installed to service the French drain system.

The building is over 100 years old and when excavating the north side, the crew discovered gas lines and underground structures that were not on the building drawings they had received. With these gas lines, it was no longer safe to excavate that area. An additional challenge was the unstable soil that would not allow H-piles to be installed deeply enough to safely secure a sheet pile shoring system to protect the excavation site. This prevented the installation of positive side waterproofing and the French drain that was planned on this side of the building. Instead, Chamberlin injected a chemical grout from the interior side to seal the north basement wall.

By contract, Chamberlin had 180 days to complete the project starting in April. The crew’s start date was delayed due to the ROTC class schedule. Similarly, work on the internal space was delayed until summer. Therefore, the bulk of the work was completed in approximately a 90-day period instead of the 180 days. With their attention to detail and expertise gained from decades of waterproofing experience, Chamberlin delivered solutions and high-quality installations completed on time. The Heights High School project was a success, and the school is leak-free for the first time in 20 years.