BHS project closeout nears

Published 8:46 am Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WINDSOR – Two of three contract retaining funds, part of the project closeout for the new BertieHigh School, have been released with a third to be held until some outstanding issues with the facility are resolved to the satisfaction of both the county Board of Education and Board of Commissioners.

At the regularly scheduled Commissioners’ meeting on Nov. 17, County Manager Scott Sauer recommended release of the technology services contract retainage, a sum totaling $115,939.27 due K.H. Smith Communications of Rocky Mount.

“They did all the wiring, and their work is done,” said Sauer as he spoke before the Commissioners. “The Board of Education is satisfied with it and we believe that can be released.”

However, Sauer felt the retainage for the architect, Hite and Associates of Greenville and subcontractor, WIMCO of Washington, NC should be withheld pending the resolution of the structural issues.  Hite’s retainage was $40,000 and WIMCO’s totaled $452,887.61.

“Quite frankly the concern we have is in the gymnasium where the wood-strip flooring appears to be buckling, and a couple of places in the hallways and the foyer of the auditorium we’re seeing some cracks develop that appear to be in the concrete coming up through the tile.” Sauer reported. “I think before we release funds it’s in our best interest to hear from our Board of Education and from the architect and the contractor.”

Jimmy Hite, president of Hite and Associates, and Robert Smith, WIMCO Senior Project Manager, were present at the meeting and spoke to the Board.

Several commissioners, including Chairman J. Wallace Perry, vice-chair Charles Smith, and John Trent, stated that they had toured the facility and expressed their concerns.

Smith said not only did he follow the specifications of the architect, but that his group had been advised of the humidity problems with some of the classroom doors and the effect of sticking on the door’s lamination.

Hite said he was aware of floor buckling in the gymnasium, but was unaware of cracks in the concrete beneath the floor tile.

Calling upon his contractor background, Trent had several questions about the doors and humidity’s effects.  The doors were supplied by C.H. Edwards of Greenville.

“We’ve got situations where I’m looking at a warranty that says delivery of the doors to the building site after the HVAC system is operating and balanced, and obviously it doesn’t if the doors are swelling and had to be cut down,” said Trent. “I also have a question as to whether these doors were re-sealed after they were cut down.”

County Schools Maintenance Director Matthew Bond was also present at the meeting and said that during the tour on Nov. 13 he could not feel a sealant at the tops of the doors.

In addition, Smith stated that WIMCO was responsible for ordering the doors and the process of their installation.  Trent said he feared the validity of the warranty based on adjustments that had been made to the doors relating to the circumstances of their installation.

“I want to give you your money, but I can’t,” Trent cited. “I’m looking at a warranty that spells these things out and carries on more humidity that the warranty claims it should carry.”

Trent also stated that the Board had not heard from a manufacturer’s representative regarding the gym floor.

“We’ve heard give it 10 days,” Trent said. “Now we’re hearing give it two months. What do we do?”

Hite explained that representatives had told him that the boards in the gym floor should dry out and lay flat again.

“I think there’re ways to test it,” Hite claimed. “I think what we need to do is see if what I’ve been told is correct; and for that we need to hear from him.”

Commissioner Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson said the county needed a written guarantee as to who would be responsible for fixing this to the board’s satisfaction and that no one had given the board that assurance.

Hite said he didn’t fault WIMCO for the buckling and that it was probably caused by the lack of a dehumidifier not being present during construction, or once the building was occupied.

“We have since added that to the gym and that’s why I believe the floor has buckled,” said Hite. “And that’s my responsibility, and I accept that. I want it fixed just like you do.”

Hite said he’d been assured by the manufacturer to not make adjustments to the floor, but let it dry out and that it would lay down; but barring that, he would return and re-set any flooring to the board’s satisfaction.

County Attorney Lloyd Smith said he had been contracted by WIMCO’s attorney, saying he had been told that the buckling of the floor was due to a design omission, not anything due to WIMCO’s construction.

Hite accepted responsibility for the floor buckling, absolving WIMCO of any construction culpability.

“I can’t see anything they (WIMCO) have done that would contribute to these floors doing this,” Hite stated.

Hite further stated he would be in touch with the manufacturers, whom he called a “lifetime business partner” and see what they would be willing to do.

“They’re one of the leaders in the industry,” said WIMCO’s Smith.

Trent said the concern with the doors was being cut down due to the high humidity levels and if there were something to address the door swelling.

Attorney Smith asked if rather than compiling a list, if someone from Edwards could come and look at the doors.

They’ve made project visits before,” said WIMCO’s Smith. “They have to come and certify the installation of the hardware, so I can get them to come back.”

Hite requested a list of the areas where cracking beneath the tile was occurring, where the concrete had been scored, or cut.

“It’s underneath the tile,” said Trent. “So you’re unaware of where it’s located until the tile starts to raise up.”

“You are going to have some settlement,” said WIMCO’s Smith. “Typically during the 11 month warranty period is where you’re going to have some issues addressed.”

Commissioner Rick Harrell asked when the 11-month inspection would take place and was told sometime in May of 2015, since the Certificate of Occupancy was in June of this year.

“We’ll make it happen,” Hite reiterated.

Trent again expressed a desire to have the issues addressed by representatives, corrected, and resolved; and that it is done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

WIMCO agreed to have a door representative and the project manager inspect the work late last week and agreed to meet back at the Commissioner’s Room on Monday, Nov. 24.

It was during that meeting that the Commissioners deemed the issues to have been reviewed sufficiently and ordered the release of the contractor’s funds.

At the Monday morning meeting, Trent made a motion for the release of the retainage funds and it was seconded by Wesson.

Smith, the WIMCO contractor, was there for the Commissioner’s call meeting to receive the check for the retainage amount ($452,887.61).