Morse Engineering and Construction Industries

Site Work for Home Construction Can Be Done at Any Time of Year

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, December 13, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Home Construction

Building a new home can be done any time of year. And at Morse Engineering and Construction, we are used to doing site work for new home construction in the winter. So if you have been thinking about building yourself a new home, and you want to take advantage of the mortgage rates before they rise some more, you can! At Morse, we are experienced in site work in Western Massachusetts during all times of year.

We take extra precautions with the ground digging, laying down hay, leaves, wood chips, or other mulch to keep the ground from freezing. Additionally, specially formulated cement is used to pour your new home’s foundation during the winter. You do not need to be concerned about the elements. So take advantage of these mortgage rates before they continue to rise and feel free to start your site work for your new home building project.

Contact Morse Engineering and Construction for more information.

Resurfacing or Replacing An Asphalt Driveway

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, December 06, 2018

Your driveway has probably seen some wear and tear after years of winters, freezing and thawing. Patching the driveway is not always the best choice. If you have a few severe cracks and holes, or several smaller ones, it is not necessarily cost-effective or practical to patch them all. While patching the driveway does restore the structural strength it won’t look as nice, clean and neat as a newly resurfaced driveway. If you are concerned about curb appeal, resurfacing may be the best choice.

Resurfacing the Driveway

Resurfacing is completely removing and replacing the top layers of asphalt. The patching is done before the final top layer of asphalt is poured. This adds the structural strength and gives a look of a new driveway. And it’s a fraction of the cost of complete replacement of an asphalt driveway.

Resurfacing can fix many badly damaged asphalt driveways. But it is not the right choice in all situations either. Some driveways have damage that extends to the foundation of the driveway. Patching can fix relatively small failed areas but is not practical for bigger or multiple problems.

Replacing the Driveway

The older your driveway is, the more likely it is to need replacement. Driveways are exposed to massive forces and eventually these forces will take their toll. Patching or resurfacing an asphalt driveway that is more than 20 years old will be a temporary fix. Almost certainly a new problem or problems will develop after the repairs are complete.

Replacing the driveway is starting over. The upfront cost are higher but it is a long-term investment. With the right maintenance, a new driveway could be essentially trouble-free for another 20 or more years.

For more information on patching, replacing or resurfacing an asphalt driveway, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Benefits of Maintaining your Parking Lot Paving

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, November 29, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Parking Lot Paving

Your parking lot is the first thing customers and potential customers see when driving by or approaching your business. A well-maintained parking lot makes a great first impression, which can add to your brand, reputation, and image. But, a clean, crisp, and smooth parking lot also keeps customers and employees safe.

Benefits of a Well-Maintained Parking Lot

  • Give a lasting first impression to customers
  • Improves resale value of your property
  • Minimizes tenant turnover in commercial properties
  • Give pride to employees
  • Avoid accidents and falls caused by pot-holes and pavement cracks
  • Ensure code compliance for fire and ADA regulations

Asphalt in parking lots is weakened by sun and water, vehicle weight, temperature changes, and flexibility in the pavement. But, as business or property owners there are things you can do to prolong the life of your parking lot and your investment. A couple of important maintenance steps include: removing leaves, branches and other debris from the pavement to prevent moss growth which can break through and weaken pavement; and regularly filing cracks and sealcoating.

For more information on repaving or resurfacing a parking lot for a business, apartment complex, or school, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Happy Thanksgiving to Our Customers, Family, and Friends

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 19, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction

It is once again time to give thanks. If you have done business with us or are going to do business with us in 2019, it means a lot to us. The primary reason for this blog each week is to educate and inform our readers; as an ongoing act of giving thanks for the privilege of earning your continued trust and continued professional partnerships. So we're glad you're here.

We reflect today on the blessings that so many of you bring to both our personal and professional lives. Over the course of the last year, we hope that we have made a difference in both personal and professional lives as well. This is the true essence and a key measure of professional reward and business success.

It is our sincerest wish that all of you bask in the joy of reflection and thanks within the warm confines of family and friends this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

- from all of us here at Morse Engineering and Construction.

Reasons to Start Your Construction Project in Winter

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, November 15, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Construction

Winter is fast approaching, but that doesn’t mean you need to put your construction plans on hold until the spring. Although winter construction does pose a few challenges, most can be overcome (or planned around). And there are many advantages to starting work now.

1. Better availability of general and subcontractors

The most important and significant advantage to starting work in January or February is that, quite frankly, many think of construction as something that must be done in warmer temperatures. That means general contractors and subcontractors are more available to do your work, setting off a slew of related benefits.

2. Less downtime due to scheduling conflicts

Scheduling conflicts with subcontractors are a top reason projects miss deadlines. It takes a lot of strategizing and careful planning to make all the pieces of a project fall into place, and project managers build time into production schedules assuming there will be delays at some point. We all know that if one element of a project is delayed, there is a domino effect on all the work that follows. With less work typically being done in winter, there is less competition for subcontractors’ time. That makes it easier to keep your project on schedule. It may even mean your project will be completed more quickly due to less downtime.

3. Quicker permits/approvals

Because less construction is going on in winter, there are fewer permit submittals. That translates to quicker approval by municipalities. Many cities and townships are still understaffed due to the recession of 2008, and they can get overwhelmed with building requests during the busy construction season. Depending on the size of your project and the amount of permits, licenses and inspections needed, delays with municipalities can add significant time to your project. Submitting your requests and completing your work during “off” months can shave weeks off approval times.

4. Union rates haven’t been hiked yet

Unions standardly increase their rates in June, just as the heavy construction season is gearing up. Starting and completing your project before then can save you money.

5. Advance planning for larger projects locks in subcontractors

If you are planning a ground-up project for 2018, you can realize some of these benefits by starting your project timeline now. Locking in subcontractors for future work now will help you avoid delays later.

Of course there are certain construction projects that lend themselves to being performed more easily in winter. However, advancements in equipment and careful planning can make even outdoor winter construction feasible.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Can Home Construction Be Started in the Winter?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, November 08, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Repair

YES, you can start a construction project in the winter under the right circumstances. There are even some advantages to starting a project in the winter. Here are the pros and cons of starting a project in the winter months:


The subcontractors still need to work during the winter so you may be able to get a better price during the winter.

The subcontractors are less busy so they are more likely to meet your schedule.

By starting in the winter you will be off season of a typical construction schedule and therefore the subcontractors and suppliers may be less busy throughout your project. Example: lining up a foundation company is easier during the winter than in the spring or early summer, and finding a framing crew is easier during the winter than during the summer.

Subcontractors can continue to work while it snows verses rain.

The government agencies will be less busy so you can get your permits quicker.


Site work companies will need to be very conscientious about not letting frost get into the ground after the excavation is done and before the foundation is completed. This involves watching the weather very closely and covering the ground with thermal blankets if needed.

The days are shorter and colder and therefore the subcontractors have to work shorter days.

There could be more weather delays.

The site may have to be plowed and shoveled, which could incur some extra cost.

It can be harder to get large trucks in and out of your project.

You may need to use temporary heat to heat your home, the workers themselves, or some of the ground so you can dig.

Suggestions for starting a project in the winter months:

If your site gets a lot of sun you will have an easier time of starting a project in the winter.

If your building site gets very little sun or no sun at all, it is probably best not to start a project after the ground has frozen.

Cut some trees down to get more sun on your building site.

Make sure you have your excavation and foundation companies scheduled very close together so you have less chance of frost getting into the soil under the foundation.

Once the foundation and concrete floors are in, the major obstacles of starting in the winter are over. Sometimes the concrete floors can be poured after the house has been framed and temporary heat can be added to the area.

For more information, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Other Types of Septic System Inspections

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, November 01, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Inspections, Fiskdale, Sturbridge, MA

New Construction and Upgrades

A new or upgraded system does not require inspection. These systems receive a Certificate of Compliance from the local Board of Health. This certification exempts the system from the inspection requirement for any transfer of title within the next 2 years. This exemption continues up to 3 years, provided that system pumping records demonstrate that the system was pumped at least once during the third year.

Condominiums and Large Systems

The condominium association is responsible for the inspection, maintenance and upgrade of the system or systems serving the units, unless the association’s governing documents provide otherwise.

Condominium systems should be inspected once every 3 years. Condominium developments with 4 or fewer units should also have their system inspected every 3 years, or within 2 years prior to the sale of one of the units.

Large systems serve a facility with a design flow of 10,000 to 15,000 gallons per day. Large systems must be inspected on the basin schedule shown in 310 CMR 15.301(6), and then every five years afterward.

Changes of Use and Increases in Flow

These situations require a system inspection only if the modification requires a building permit or occupancy permit. For example:

  • adding a bedroom to a house
  • adding seats to a restaurant
  • changing the type of business operating at a commercial location.
  • Check with your Building Department or Board of Health to find out if your modification meets these requirements.

Any change in the footprint of a building also requires an inspection to determine the location of the system, to ensure that construction will not be located on top of any system components or on the reserve area. Check with your local Board of Health.

State and Federal Facilities

Title 5 applies to state and federal facilities as well as homes and businesses. MassDEP is the approving authority for state and federal facilities, so the inspection forms are submitted to MassDEP (310 CMR 15.003).

Cross-State Ownership

If a property is located in two states, with the house in one state but the septic system in another state, the state where the septic system is located has jurisdiction and the owner must follow the regulations for that state. For example, if the septic system is located in New York, but the house is in Massachusetts, the property is subject to New York's laws and regulations.

Voluntary inspections

A system owner may choose voluntarily to have an assessment of the condition of the system even if there is no requirement for an inspection. Results of these voluntary assessments are solely for the use of the owner, and do not need to be submitted to local Boards of Health or MassDEP.

For more information on septic tank inspections, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


Pros and Cons of Mound Septic Systems

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, October 18, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Mound Septic Systems

A mound septic system is an alternative to other septic tank systems. It rests near the top of the ground and does not use a container for the waste. This type of septic system disposes the waste through sand, and the ground will absorb the waste. The mound septic system has many good points and bad points. Below are the pros and cons of the mound septic system.

Protecting the Water Table

The purpose of a mound septic system is to keep the waste product away from the water table. The water table has to be maintained, and a damaged septic tank is a quick way to contaminate it. The mound septic system does a great job of protecting the water table and sometimes more so than other septic tank measures.


The mound septic system is easier to install than the other kinds of septic systems. The mound septic system is essentially a matter of excavating the area and installing pipes and filters. Other septic systems will involve casting concrete or metal to act as holding tanks. Once the holding tanks are filled, a professional needs to come out to empty it. This is not the case with a mound septic system, as the waste leaches into the sand. With the mound septic system, there are no costly repairs that you have to worry about. The ground merely needs to be turned over and then dug out again in order to reset the mound septic system.

The Mound

A mound septic system is very descriptive of what it actually is. Once a mound septic system is installed, you will be left with a mound of dirt that is easily seen by anyone looking at the area where it is placed. The mound can be as high as five feet. It is possible to landscape the mound but, in the end, you still have a mound to contend with.

Space Limitations

One main issue with having a mound septic system is the space needed to properly dispose of the waste. With other kinds of septic systems, a large container is placed underground and buried. It costs a great deal of money to install these systems, but they can be placed anywhere. A mound septic system has no container, and digging too far gets you too close to the water table. This means instead of digging down you have to dig out. This causes a problem because you need a larger space for the trench. This limits where you can place a mound septic system, let alone if you can even have one.


Most septic systems you will not know is there because they will not smell. There is a possibility that the normal septic system container can overflow, but it doesn't happen often. The mound septic system is placed near the surface, which means you are not far from the sewage. If the waste does not leach fast enough through the ground, it can find its way to the top.

For more information on septic system design, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.


How Often Should a Septic System Be Inspected?

Joseph Coupal - Friday, October 12, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Repair

Inspect and Pump Frequently

The average household septic system should be inspected at least every three years by a septic service professional. Household septic tanks are typically pumped every three to five years. Alternative systems with electrical float switches, pumps, or mechanical components should be inspected more often, generally once a year. A service contract is important since alternative systems have mechanized parts.

Four major factors influence the frequency of septic pumping:

Household size
Total wastewater generated
Volume of solids in wastewater
Septic tank size

Do you have a service provider coming? Here is what you need to know.

When you call a septic service provider, they will inspect for leaks and examine the scum and sludge layers in your septic tank.

Keep maintenance records on work performed on your septic system.

Your septic tank includes a T-shaped outlet which prevents sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling to the drainfield area. If the bottom of the scum layer is within six inches of the bottom of the outlet, or if the top of the sludge layer is within 12 inches of the outlet, your tank needs to be pumped.

To keep track of when to pump out your tank, write down the sludge and scum levels found by the septic professional.

The service provider should note repairs completed and the tank condition in your system’s service report. If other repairs are recommended, hire a repair person soon.

Maintain Your Drainfield

Your drainfield—a component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank—is an important part of your septic system. Here are a few things you should do to maintain it:

Parking: Never park or drive on your drainfield.
Planting: Plant trees the appropriate distance from your drainfield to keep roots from growing into your septic system. A septic service professional can advise you of the proper distance, depending on your septic tank and landscape.
Placing: Keep roof drains, sump pumps, and other rainwater drainage systems away from your drainfield area. Excess water slows down or stops the wastewater treatment process.

For more information on septic system inspections, contact Morse Engineering and Construction.

Extend The Life of Your Septic System

Joseph Coupal - Friday, October 05, 2018
Morse Engineering and Construction Industries - Septic System Repair

If your home has a septic tank, follow these 4 tips to extend it's life.

Most homeowners over-stress about owning a septic system. There's no reason to stress over owning a septic system.

By and large maintenance is easy. You just need the correct information. So here's a quick break down of my rules for avoiding being that over-stressed homeowner.

Here are four ways to extend the lifespan of your septic system.

  1. Know the specifics about your system

    Know where it is, how many gallons the tank holds and when the last time it was pumped. If you have the original plans, permits, and maintenance records that makes it easier, but if you don't, it’s not too hard to get you up to speed. A quick call to the local health district or agency’s septic system permit office will get you the original permits, as long as it was permitted, and those will provide answers for the first two things.

    When was the last time it was pumped? Either you know that or you don't. If you don't, you really want to get the tank opened up so we can measure the scum mat and determine how close it may be to being ready for pumping.

  2. Follow the time table

    Your septic system’s individual pumping schedule is based upon factors that are not identical from system to system. There are handy tables available that tell you - based on the number of people who live in your home and the size of the tank - how often you're due for pumping.

    Set a reminder for the next time your due in your personal calendar. Then be sure to schedule out your pumping when you get your reminder and don't be lax about it. Note that using the garbage disposal regularly will add solids to your septic tank and will increase how frequently you need to pump by up to 50 percent. So, if you are a heavy garbage disposal user, stop being one or pump your septic twice as often.

  3. Make it accessible

    This is by far one of the most confusing things to understand about your septic system. The septic tank that gets pumped out is buried on your property. Following the installation of the septic tank, it usually stays out of sight and out of mind.

    But one of the best things you can do is install risers to bring your septic system’s lids to the surface. The most obvious and critical reason to do so is that the pumper truck needs them exposed so they can clean the tank out for maintenance. If you've ever had to dig them up or pay for it, you don't ever want to do that again. It costs money to install risers and it sure beats the price of locating and digging them up every few years.

  4. Check with your health district or agency before landscaping or adding new feature

    Most health districts or agencies have regulations about how close landscaping or other features can be installed to the septic system. They might sound like bureaucratic nonsense, but those rules are really in place to preserve to structural integrity and life span of your septic tank and leech field.

    As a rule of thumb, bushes and grass have short roots and are about the only landscaping acceptable in a ten foot radius of your system. Roots will always find the closest source of water even if they have to bind up your leech field and break open your tank to get it.

Pools close to your system require a barrier to avoid chlorine getting in and killing the septic system. Driveways should never been over any part of your system, as the weight will crush the tank and pipes over time.

Landscape and other companies usually don't take septic systems into consideration when put together proposals, so it’s up to you to ensure that there's nothing they are doing that's going to affect your septic system.

For more information on septic systems, contact Morse Engineering and Construction