Construction Management

Joe McNeil has extensive experience and unique skills in assisting with land development and construction projects ranging from dozens of acres to room additions. He understands construction terms, principles and practicess and is fluent in AutoCAD. He has equipment to perform non-survey grade mapping, as necessary to supplement work of the civil engineer. He has years of experience assisting with design modifications and development of specifications to retain trees successfully as long-term landscape features. He can relate positively with neighbors of the project and speak to planning commissions or city councils when requested.

Construction Management, Pleasant Hill, CA

Many jurisdictions attempt to retain trees on construction projects large and small, with the goal of integrating them permanently into the finished site. To be successful this process requires that the arborist be part of the design team from the beginning. In this manner the design becomes the tree protection. Such protection is not an “overlay” that is applied during the construction phase.

Tree Construction, Pleasant Hill, CA The arborist identifies all pertinent trees on a project site, then individually assesses them for potential to contribute to the finished project. The arborist will assist the civil engineer with temporary and final grading as well as infrastructure design, road and lot layout, storm drains and utilities in a manner to minimize impact to retained trees. He or she will assist the architect and landscape architect in design details such as footings, flatwork sections, retaining walls, area drains, irrigation and lighting that avoid undue injury to trees or tree roots.

The arborist will provide documentation to accompany permit submittals, Negative Declarations or Environmental Impact Reports so that planners can be assured that tree protection is sufficiently addressed. Before a project is built the arborist will meet with the general contractor and selected subcontractors to review construction phase protection measures. As work proceeds the arborist may assist with field adjustment of specifications or design. However, a good design will minimize the need for field oversight.

Construction Management, Pleasant Hill, CA

Some of the tasks performed by a consulting arborist on a construction project are:

  1. Guides decisions of trees to remove or retain
    1. Provide assessment of condition and potential future benefit of the tree or trees in the proposed site.
      1. Structural condition.
      2. Health, vigor, ability to withstand unavoidable construction stress.
      3. Rate the trees in some fashion so that the developer/builder and planner can understand whether the tree would be relatively valuable into the future on the site, or would be relatively useless, and place that in the context of cost of retention.
    2. Provide assessment of the function of the tree. Is it single? Is it part of a stand? Perhaps assess the stand separately.
      1. Identify hazardous trees or trees that should be removed in any case separately from requirements of the project.
      2. Minimally provide information about future benefit of any groupings as a whole.
  2. Guides protection strategies for trees to be retained, design phase.
    1. Need accurate tree locations. Typically these will be from civil engineer, center of trunk or center of trunk groupings, if multiple trunks, at ground level.
    2. Need accurate grading and construction information.
      1. Staging, material storage, and parking areas away from trees.
      2. Location of utilities.
      3. Location of area or storm drain inlets and lines.
      4. Drainage alterations, such as interruption of historic seasonal drainage to a tree, or creation of irrigation runoff drainage to trees that were formerly dry.
      5. Finish grades.
      6. Temporary grades during construction. (Keyways, or slope layback for wall construction.)
      7. Location and height of any retaining walls required to control grades near trees.
      8. Building elevations under trees.
      9. Construction details, such as pavement sections, footing details for the retaining walls.
      10. Full review of planting plans, lighting, and irrigation from landscape architect.
      11. Provide protection details for trees to be retained.
        1. Identify Tree Protection Zones (TPZ's) See Trees and Development, A technical guide to preservation of trees during land development, Matheny and Clark, 1998, International Society of Arboriculture.
        2. Provide precise location of temporary protective fencing around TPZ’s, which should be 5 or 6 foot chain link, on driven posts or otherwise secured to the ground to discourage casual movement. As an alternative on some projects, such fencing may be located, with contractor on site, at preconstruction meeting.
        3. Mulching over root zones
        4. Management of soil moisture in soil adjacent to trenches or soil cuts for retaining walls.
        5. Soil protection specifications such as plating or other cover to protect root zones if vehicle traffic is unavoidable.
        6. Irrigation, if necessary
    3. Arborist needs to work with the applicant and entire design team, geotechnical and civil engineers, architect, landscape architect, to assure all details of the design are consistent, as much as possible, with retention of tree roots, root habitat and branches.
    4. Identify construction phase oversight.
  3. Arborist needs to be available at specified construction phase times.
    1. Preconstruction meeting with the demolition and general contractors at least, and key equipment operators.
    2. Be available at times identified above as critical. (Such as to inventory roots already cut, or decide whether a root in a trench must be preserved or can be cut.) It is not useful to have the arborist on site simply to observe, if there cannot be discretionary field adjustment around roots.
    3. Meet with the landscape contractor prior to their work. Temporary fencing must be removed at this stage and the landscaper must understand limitations of how they perform their work under existing trees. For instance, they cannot cut deep irrigation trenches or drive forklifts over tree protection zones.
  4. Arborist should document the above events, after the initial report is complete, with memos to the planner.

Joseph McNeil Consulting Arborist | Pleasant Hill

Serving northern California and the western United States, including Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Lafayette, Orinda, Pleasant Hill and San Ramon, California.