Public facility could be completed as late as April because of 'contractor error'
By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The new building planned to house the Warren County Sheriff's Office will open later than expected because of several errors made by the contractor.
The building, which was supposed to open as soon as December, is 110 days behind schedule, said Robert B. Childress, deputy county administrator. That puts the new opening date sometime in April.
Nielsen Builders Inc., the Harrisonburg-based contractors for the project, have made a few important errors, said Jeff Hayes, who is overseeing the construction on behalf of the county.
The flat roof portions of the building were not installed according to the contract, Childress said at an Oct. 17 building committee meeting. They had recognized this early on and brought it to the contractor's attention, he said.
"The contractor proceeded at their own risk," he said. "They've now got it about 98 percent completed."
According to Childress, the manner in which the roof was constructed will cause damage to the insulation.
"We basically put them on notice that we want [the roof] removed and replaced,"
Childress said. "We are not interested in discussing other options."
About 15 areas in the roofing also have leaks, according to Hayes' inspection.
Although Childress admitted that leaks at this stage in construction are not entirely uncommon, the number was excessive. He also added that Hayes had offered to show the project manager the leaks, and that he refused, saying he already knew where they were.
Additionally, Hayes found rust on the metal studs used for fastening drywall. Hayes said he found the rust as they were being installed, but that they were installed anyway. Now 95 percent of the studs are in place and 80 percent are covered with drywall.
"We will probably have some interesting dialogue with the contractor about this," Childress said. "They should not be covered in rust, they have to be removed and replaced."
Of the $6.7 million the county is paying Nielsen Builders Inc. for the project, about 65 percent has been paid.
Childress said the completion date could end up being even later depending on the weather this winter.
"If we have a relatively mild winter I think the April date is realistic, but if we have a wet, cold winter we probably won't make it," he said.
The building is on a 16.7-acre parcel of what used to be the old Eastham Farm off of U.S. 340 across from Skyline High School.
The county broke ground at the site last Sept. 22. The 44,370-square-foot facility will serve as the new headquarters for the Sheriff's Office as well as the county Fire and Rescue Department.
County Administrator Doug Stanley said the delays affect certain "logistical issues" such as hiring custodial staff and ordering furniture, but for the most part they just prevent the staff from moving to the new facility. The Sheriff's Office, in particular, has needed additional space for some time.