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Posted March 19, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

New building problems delay completion

By Alex Bridges

Plumbing and other problems plague the new Warren County Public Safety Building.

Meanwhile, failing to complete the project on time means mounting penalties against contractor Nielsen Builders Inc., according to County Administrator Doug Stanley.

County departments were scheduled to move into the building in December 2011. The county did not move in until fall 2012 almost a year later. The county agencies are using the building through a temporary occupancy permit until the facility passes inspections and the county receives the permanent permit.

"Still working on the issues," Stanley said. "The liquidated damages continue to roll. There's still stuff that we're continuing to address. But at least we're inside the building."

As of March 8, county officials estimate the contractor has accrued $632,500 in liquidated damages associated with the completion. The contractor also owes an extra $143,213 to Moseley Architects for architectural and engineering fees, more than $44,411 for utilities and $60,000 to cover the project manager's services for the past 14 months, according to county information.

Under the contract terms the contractor reimburses the county for the expenses, Stanley explained.

Officials now estimate a project completion date of April 30.

"Some of these issues have been there since day one," Stanley said. "It's not unusual to have large amounts of issues on a project.

"I think certainly we spent more time addressing these than we certainly would have liked to, and we got into the building a lot later than we'd like to," Stanley added.

While the issues may not affect the day-to-day operations of the agencies inside the building, Stanley did point out the delays impact the county in other ways.

"I think it's impacted in varying degrees," Stanley said. "We're all continuing to spend time on these issues because of the delay. It's certainly costing us a considerable amount of time and resources to continue to try to close out the construction."

Deputy County Administrator Bob Childress noted that crews work on the weekends to fix the problems inside the building to limit the disruption on the staff. Childress said that winter weather has caused workers delays in making necessary fixes to the outside of the building.

"They've been doing the best they can and will continue to have some work to do in the spring," Childress said.

Childress added that the contractor remains in contact with him, county project manager Jeffrey Hayes, and Moseley Architects representatives on a regular basis as crews work through the outstanding items.

"Light's at the end of the tunnel to get all the items finished up and get this project completed once and for all," Childress said.

The plumbing has not yet passed the final inspection. Dips have formed in places along the sewer lines serving the building, Stanley explained. The county has asked the contractor to use cameras in the lines to see if the sewage can still flow out of the building.

Pipes have been scanned twice and a consultant for the county identified three sections that appear crushed and could disrupt the flow of water or sewage, according to Stanley.

Building official David Beahm won't accept the facility until all remaining problems are fixed, Stanley noted.

According to county information, the "punch list" has been whittled down from 127 pages to three pages.

The project remains within the $15.19 million budget -- an amount that includes $11.83 million for construction and the remainder for other associated costs.

Similar issues arose at Skyline and Warren County high schools, Stanley said. Sections of sewer line became crushed or pushed down as a result of the construction of the buildings. Crews had to tear up the floors to reach sections of pipe that trapped water and sewage, Stanley explained.

Officials with the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority have required that the contractor take the same approach with cameras to check water and sewer pipes and make sure the lines buried underground work properly before the county will take the facility, Stanley said.

County documents state the erosion and sediment control does not meet building code requirements. The general contractor earlier this month began working on the issues. Grades around the building do not allow water to flow away from the structure; curb cuts were made in the wrong location and the stormwater "bioretention" pond has not yet been installed per the construction plans.

The electrical contractor failed to install a conduit for the audio-visual equipment in the community room, but a solution is being looked at, according to the county information.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


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