Grand County building remodel will cost more than planned
March 8, 2009
Renovation projects have earned a reputation for a reason.They often take longer than expected, they usually end up costing more than planned, and they tend to disrupt lives more than anticipated.The countys administration building overhaul is no exception.County commissioners learned on Tuesday that with unforeseen changes and an unexpected run-in with asbestos on the top floor, the county may endure some hard-to-swallow charges halfway through its project.During the first phase of construction on the top floor in the beginning of February, disturbance to plaster in the original part of the building built in 1937 caused asbestos dust to go airborne. Air quality gauging and cleanup in the wake of the hazard amounted to $77,500. Project Manager Todd Ficken of F&D International, Niwot, estimates the county could pay $160,000 more than originally budgeted for asbestos abatement throughout the county building. Worst-case scenario, he said, the countys total expense on hazardous materials abatement, which includes walls, ceilings, lead paint, PCB lighting and floor tiles both inside and outside of what was budgeted could reach $300,000.Asbestos abatement personnel with Custom Environmental Services of Arvada are performing a strategic surgical demolition of deteriorated plaster containing asbestos throughout the third floor as an added precaution for future years. Commissioners approved the preventive measure on Tuesday.As much as $190,000 in renovation contingency money is available in the budget and could be applied to the asbestos abatement, Ficken informed commissioners.Commissioner Nancy Stuart complained that the company hired to inspect the building for hazardous materials prior to the renovation, Kumar and Associates Inc. of Denver, did not inform the county about asbestos in the walls and ceiling on the top floor. Because of that, she said, the county should not be responsible for the $77,500 associated with the asbestos release. Two phone messages left at the main Kumar and Associates office on Thursday were not returned by press time. Containment of the asbestos problem has put the project three weeks behind schedule and has shuffled the construction work load, according to Ficken. Workers were able to resume renovations on the 40-year old addition on the west-end of the building as abatement work continued in the 1937 part of the building.Air monitoring tests conducted by Sunrise Environmental Inc. of Littleton have confirmed air is safe to breathe on the two working levels of the three-story building, county officials said.In addition to the asbestos hurdle, commissioners reviewed with Ficken owner-approved add-ons to the $3 million remodeling project, questioning $487,000 worth of change orders.Ficken clarified they are not contractor-initiated change orders. About half of the amount are within budget and were allowances carried over from the judicial building contract to the administration building contract, he explained. Big Valley Construction of Granby has been the general contractor on both buildings.A county-approved $150,000 concrete snow-melt system is included in the carried-over allowances and is within the scope of the project, Ficken said. A $30,000 efficiency boiler upgrade, replacement drains on the roof as well as $102,000 worth of improvements to the north parking lot were upgrades added to the remodel project. After the project got under way and commissioners were able to visualize spaces, they approved other needed improvements to the interior, for people who use and visit the building, Ficken said. County assessor and treasurer departments are scheduled to temporarily move downstairs on Wednesday. That portion of the building will be the first to be completed. Those departments are due to relocate again when their second-floor wing is finished. Building, planning and zoning departments ultimately will occupy the basement level. The buildings renovation completion is slated for mid-summer.Remodels in homes are hard enough, Ficken said. Remodeling in a government building when people cant go anywhere else, when the building is 71 years old, is probably just one of the hardest things you can do. Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.