Steadily Forward

Steadily Forward

Progress continues on our new campus! Get the latest update at our Congregational Meeting this Sunday, May 15, at 1 PM on Zoom. Register to join us at

The high ceiling in the sanctuary will start being painted next Wednesday. This week, we’ve started work on lights in the grid area. The wood grain wall cover will begin installation on Monday the 23rd. Choate hopes to start stage framing on May 30th.

The grid lights on the second floor are done and ready for inspection. Friday of this week or Monday of next, teams will start laying ceiling tile. The carpet is on track for Wednesday of next week. Bathroom accessories will be installed on Monday, May 30th.   The elevator wrap-up will be finished by Monday or Tuesday at the latest, and then teams will begin masonry and electric work to finish it.

Sheetrock ceilings will continue installation through Monday and Tuesday of next week. The floor tile will begin on Wednesday of next week. Next Thursday and Friday, teams will begin polishing concrete.

HVAC startup of the cassettes (air conditioning room vents) is today. The other HVAC should be up on Monday of next week. Stripping is done in the parking lot. The dirt and stone in the ADA ramp by the playground will be filled on Monday and Tuesday. Sidewalks continue development through the rest of the month. The plumber has started working on the waterline.

As the OAC meeting closed, the fire marshal arrived and gave his initial blessing to have a temporary occupancy permit for the wing building. We still would need the building inspector’s blessing. The way the county treats a temporary occupancy permit is that furniture can be moved in, staff can work, and training can occur. No public access is allowed.

Momentum continues!

Momentum continues!

Our new campus was buzzing with activity today during our weekly on-site meeting known as the OAC which stands for Owner, Architect, and Contractor. The new parking lot is well underway, the painters are busy power washing and priming the exterior, and the sheetrock is finally going up in the sanctuary after having gotten the blessing in the hard ceiling inspection last Friday.  Crews are also onsite assembling our new parking lot pole lighting and bricking of the ADA ramp was wrapping up. Throughout the facility, finishes are starting to appear, and the construction site is beginning to look more and more like home.

Join us either this Sunday or next Sunday at 1pm for our Congregational Town Hall where Project Phoenix will share more information about the progress of our new campus. Register by going to:

Challenges and Triumphs

We are excited to share photos from our OAC walkthrough this week.  The building is coming alive with permanent power as new lighting is tested and turned on.  Motion sensors detect occupancy and turn on lights as you walk into closets and rooms.  The new LED panel, which will evenly light our historic stained glass, will give the effect of sunlight pouring through the windows whenever we desire, through the rain, shine, or night.  The string lights in the social hall provide a fantastic ambiance, and the gallery lighting is sleek and modern.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so we hope the attached photos give you a taste of what’s in store!

Our progress has been stymied over the last few months, primarily by DeKalb County inspectors and the permitting process.  Since March 16, 2020, the DeKalb County Department of Planning and Sustainability has operated “virtually” with remote operations due to Covid-19.  Getting permits pulled and inspections coordinated has been challenging and requires enormous effort and pressure to push through.  We are grateful to DeKalb commissioner Jeff Rader for his office’s help.  It’s still bumpy, but we’d be even further behind schedule without our commissioner’s assistance.  Today, we are still awaiting our hard-ceiling inspections resulting from delays in permitting and inspections and questionable additional requirements imposed by the fire marshal.  We are seeing some movement finally on this front and hope to have the ceiling inspection completed within the next week.

Elsewhere, we are still seeing some delays in specific trades.  For example, concrete is tough to obtain due to massive construction in the Atlanta metro area and difficulty in obtaining concrete mixing components brought to the SouthEast part of the country via long-haul truck drivers.  A labor shortage in the trucking industry has put concrete orders out to a five-week lead time even for companies as large as Choate.  We have will-call tickets in with five concrete companies in the metro area so that if other jobs cancel or a truck has left over, we are ready to take it on demand.

Due to all of the above, we have adjusted our schedule.  We now expect punch list completion in July, with our first service at our new home on August 7, 2022.  Our worship team and board will be announcing plans for July within the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned to the Weekly Update to hear about the exciting options to keep our community connected throughout July.

Unfortunately, our perfect safety record ended this week when one of our window installers had an accident.  While working on the upper transom above the exterior doors leading into the social hall, a subcontractor stood on the top step of a 7ft ladder and fell while holding the glass.  The site rules require not using the top two steps of any ladder.  The worker was wearing other safety gear, which protected him from the shattering glass.  The job site was shut down briefly and the injured man was taken to Urgent Care.  He was cleared by the doctor and returned to work (at a different job site) the same day.  Choate qualifies the incident as a “near-miss” and used the event as a teachable moment for other workers on the site with a real-life example of why safety rules are in place.  Choate is opening an investigation as the gentleman should have also had a second person with him but was not present when the incident occurred.  We are grateful there was no serious injury and that this worker was able to recover quickly.

Finally, we offer the disappointing news that SouthFace did not award us the third grant we applied for last month.  The news came to us over the weekend as a surprise.  We are thankful for the first two grants and will follow up with SouthFace to better understand why the final grant was denied.  SouthFace had recommended that we make energy-saving improvements at an increased project cost, including sanctuary EnergyStar windows, doors, and the vestibule. While we had counted on SouthFace funding for those impactful improvements, there is no doubt that the recommended measures will serve UUCA and our planet as we honor our 7th principle.

While it seems like we’ve nothing but disappointing news to report above, we are moving into an exciting construction phase.  Work began this week on our new parking lot and will continue for the next four weeks.  The exterior playground ADA ramp is coming along nicely, and millwork and cabinetry are showing up in the classrooms.  The elevator installation and the exterior painting of the building both begin next week.

“GoodUse provides technical assistance and funding in the form of matching grants to nonprofits to assist them with resource efficiency upgrades to their facilities. These upgrades save the nonprofit valuable funds on utility bills that can be reallocated into their mission. Information about GoodUse can be found here .”


Let There be Light!

Let There be Light!

Permanent power was delivered on Friday! All temporary power has been removed. This has set the tone for a productive week at our new campus.

Elevator installation is now scheduled to start in late April. We are back on Kone’s (our elevator engineering company) schedule; work could start earlier, depending on Kone’s availability. The elevator area roof has been completed. Water-damaged sheetrock has been removed and new sheetrock will be installed. Sprinkler heads are being installed. The kitchen wall Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) wall covering will start on Monday.

The interior vestibule storefront has been installed and is being glazed. The electrical room wall required by the Fire Marshall has been installed. The mechanical room will be foamed and painted once a crew is on-site. The new sanctuary doors are hung. All windows are now installed except for the second-floor materials in/out window. Cabinet work will start on Monday. Control wiring for the HVAC system is underway.

Social hall double door glass will be installed this week. The LED light panels to illuminate the stained glass windows in the Social Hall niche are installed. The mechanical room roof shingles will be installed early next week. All exterior brick infill should be complete by the end of next week. All wood trim repair and replacement in advance of exterior painting is complete. Sample brick paint color patches are available for review. Our earliest day to start exterior painting is April 25th, given the paving schedule. Choate will order the base paint and will confirm the estimated life of the paint. 

The sewer line and roof litres are complete. Curbing and sidewalks will start on Friday. The substrate for the new parking lot is planned to start on Wednesday. Choate had to hire a new surveyor, since the prior one was unreachable.

ECS has completed its preview inspection of the intumescent painting crew and set up and will conduct random spot checks of the work starting next week. The ADA playground ramp retaining walls and concrete inspections have started (we can expect completion by April 25). Our footers passed inspection. The sprinkler (dry system) drawings have been approved by DeKalb County, but have not been entered into the system. Once these approved drawings are uploaded, TSAV drawings are approved, and Transcend drawings are approved, the sanctuary ceiling cover and finish work can begin. This is planned for the end of next week.

Erosion control measures were taken in advance of Thursday’s rainfall. 


Onward in Progress & Complexity

Onward in Progress & Complexity

Work on our new home has slowed down as we feel the complexity created by labor shortages and supply chain issues.  We spent most of our OAC meeting this week navigating issues that inevitably affect our schedule.  Throw in some abundant rainfall and DeKalb County inspectors to round out these exciting times!

The paving of our new parking lot area is behind schedule as both supply chain delays and labor shortages come to play.  While UUCA quickly approved the change order, the submittal process to find an appropriate and available GAB (Gravel Aggregate Base) took two weeks.  This was a required step before scheduling could occur.  Choate grabbed the first available dates, but due to labor shortages and the number of jobs ahead of us, we’ve been simply waiting our turn these last few weeks.  The delay has created additional work in keeping sediment traps clean but otherwise hasn’t hampered the overall schedule.  The project will begin this Monday, April 11, and continue for three weeks through Friday, April 29.

Other items affecting the schedule include the intumescent painting of the spray foam insulation, which is going slower than expected, slowness in inspections by DeKalb country, and slowness by Georgia Power in electrifying our transformer.

The intumescent painting is in process, but the amount of protection to prevent overspray on already installed HVAC and lighting appliances while creating a safe workspace in the attic area has been difficult.  The painting of the spray foam in the wing should wrap by this Friday.  Painting of the spray foam in the sanctuary should both commence and wrap up next week.  This intumescent painting is one of the things we mentioned in previous updates that was sprung on us by the new DeKalb county fire marshal.  The other requirements were creating a sizeable demising wall in the sanctuary ceiling outside of the AV area (which will be completed by Friday), stairwell framing (targeted completion by Friday), and ongoing electrical room work.

We are waiting on several inspections from DeKalb county.  We continue to work as many lines as we can to push through these.  The most critical inspections outstanding are an electrical inspection and the dry sprinkler system inspection.

From several prior updates, we shared that getting moved off of temporary power and onto our permanent power routed through our transformer has been critical for moving our schedule forward.  Permanent power is required to power up and test all of our VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) equipment and for our elevator installation to begin.  This was held up previously due to supply chain issues in securing main power distribution components from the sole supplier in Mexico.  We finally received those long-awaited components, and the electrical subcontractor “Titan” had them installed within days.  Since then, we’ve been waiting for Georgia Power to come out to the site to energize the transformer.  We learned during the OAC that Choate has been hitting dead air in requesting updates on when Georgia Power would come to the site.  Upon learning this, Bryce rattled a few cages as the owner.  If Georgia Power upholds the promise made to Bryce over the phone and via email, we will be on permanent power by the time these notes go to press for our Weekly Update.

Between the inspections preventing ceiling cover and the lack of permanent power, the issue was raised during the OAC that the schedule may slip even deeper into June.  Hopefully, the power issues have been resolved, allowing full attention to coax DeKalb county to hasten its schedule.  We are discussing the timing of our move out from the treehouse, and alternative plans to fill the gap should our new home not be ready until late June or early July.

Wrapping up scheduling, this week’s work continues on creating the ADA Ramp foundation and walls between the childcare classrooms and the playground.  Grid lighting and grills throughout the building and lights in the social hall are going in this week, exterior patch brick has arrived onsite, and the new sanctuary windows and doors are on site and should be installed this week.  We missed our opportunity to install the elevator due to the power issues but hope to report the new install date next week, assuming Georgia Power brings our transformer online tomorrow.

We continue to discuss erosion and sediment control at each OAC meeting and communicate before, during, and after significant weather events.  In February, we created a dashboard to show our corrective action plan and provide reviews from 3rd party inspectors (ECS).  The dashboard is located at  You can find ECS (Engineering Consulting Services) information by visiting their website at  The environmental field inspections have been posted the day they are received by UUCA, with the most recent being March 25.  ECS inspects the site and reports after every rain event of .25″ or more.  We should expect a statement regarding the flash flooding event this week shortly.  We review these reports, post them to the website and take corrective actions called out within 24 hours.  Between OAC meetings, the Project Phoenix team is in communication with the onsite superintendent to make sure we are prepared for future events.  For example, Bryce was on site Sunday to inspect the remediations ECS called for on March 25.  On that same afternoon, an email was sent to Choate that the weather was shaping up to be a more significant event than had been previously forecast on Wednesday at the previous OAC meeting.  On Monday afternoon, Bryce followed up via telephone with onsite superintendent Brian Hogue that flash flooding was expected the following day, which came to fruition.  This flooding event happened during daylight hours Tuesday (which sets it apart from the most significant prior events that occurred overnight and on the weekend).  Choate was able to observe in real-time the flash flood and see the volume of water flowing through the job site.  The water was intense enough that it could move the sediment salamanders that had been placed.  Choate worked to take corrective action during the event and use these observations to mitigate future occurrences.

Beyond sitework, the severe weather event also caused a gash in the tarp protecting the elevator shaft, which allowed water penetration into the area around the elevator.  Sheetrock in the area near the shaft was affected by the leak and will be replaced at no cost to UUCA.

It’s an exciting time as our project gets closer and closer to being home.  These updates seem to increase in size and scope, alluding to daily complexities.  Your Project Phoenix team is keeping tabs on all of the issues above while also tackling more minute items such as product discontinuations (for example, the acoustical clouds in the social hall, which were ordered months ago), staging issues with subwoofer conflicts, and so much more.  The project is complex, but we continue to move forward in the process with the help of a fabulous team, a helpful board, and a great congregation.

We are pleased to announce that Georgia Power came out on Thursday and connected permanent power… a major milestone!