Consultants report on DSS building issues

Published 8:59 pm Thursday, December 12, 2013

$128,493 left in loan proceeds

Polk County Commissioners were presented recommendations on appropriate repairs to its department of social services (DSS) building during a meeting Dec. 2 by special consultants recently hired.

The county has a total of $128,493 left in its loan proceeds for the building project and is now in negotiations with the bonding surety company, which will hire contractors to make repairs to the building.

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Al Henderson and Kevin Day, with MBP Carolinas Inc. out of Raleigh, spoke with commissioners about the issues they found with the building and offered recommendations on how to properly make repairs.

Day said there is a lot of duct leakage and issues with wiring. He showed pictures of duct and wiring in the building that does not meet standards.

“A lot of the general quality of the design is not what we usually see,” said Day.

Henderson added that some ductwork is not aligned properly and hangers are not plum, which causes problems. He said MBP shut down the HVAC unit and started it back up which caused it to bulge. Henderson said that means there’s either too much airflow or the duct isn’t braced properly.

Another issue MBP mentioned is the sewer system. Henderson said it was obvious there was a 10 foot section in the sewer line where there is a swag and standing water was observed.

“That line should be uniform and flow,” Henderson told commissioners. “That needs to flow without obstruction or you could get some backup.”

“The Polk County Health and Human Services (HHS) Facility (Project) was constructed by Able Constructors Inc. (Able) out of Greenville, S.C. with owner acceptance being achieved on Dec. 9, 2011, approximately one year after construction of the facility started,” states MBP’s executive summary to commissioners. “However, since completion of the facility in December 2011, the facility has continued to experience multiple indoor environmental conditions and mechanical system operational issues leading to facility occupant discomfort and physical damage to the doors (warping). The facility has also experienced sewer line blockage issues resulting in sewer backup and overflow.”

The recommendation to fix the sewer line is to replace it, meaning the floor would have to be torn up in order to reach and replace the line.

Henderson said contractors need to repair the quality of installations, such as wiring. He said the wiring in the building is single stranded, which is cheaper than stranded wiring.

Recommendations for repairs include installing a hot gas bypass for the HVAC system to fix humidity issues. Henderson said a hot gas bypass tells the compressors they don’t need to be turning on and off like they are currently doing. The humidity is caused from the compressors shutting on and off, according to Henderson, and a hot gas bypass will allow it to run longer and allows the coils to cool and drop humidity levels.

“The design should have included a hot gas bypass,” Henderson said.

Commissioner Keith Holbert asked if it is going to be more cost effective to replace the HVAC system or repair it. Day said repair would be the most cost effective.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said a lot of the repairs are not major expenses and he thinks it’s just a matter of doing them. He also said he thinks it’s important to note that the last payment made to Able Constructors was in April 2012.

“We knew we had problems in April of last year,” Gasperson said. “The county is still holding $75,000 in retainage that’s never been paid.”

Commissioner Michael Gage said there is another punch list of repairs needed.

“If the previous board knew of the problems, why did you move into that building?” Gage asked.

Henderson clarified that the computer system for the HVAC may not be adequate but it was done with the understanding if it didn’t work it was to be replaced. The computer system is what controls the DSS building’s heating and air conditioning.

Costs the county is currently incurring, such as paying MBP Carolinas is coming out of leftover funding obtained from a $1.85 million loan for the project. At the end of construction last year, the county had about $141,000 leftover from the loan. The county withheld $75,000 from Able Constructors because of the issues discovered and out of that $75,000 the county has $38,975 left, according to the Polk County Finance Office. The total funding, including the $38,975 from the loan is $128,493 currently left in the project.

After construction when the county still had $141,000 left from the loan, the county paid Camp Electric $11,502, Johnson Controls more than $23,000 to make repairs to the HVAC system and $551 to Ohmstead, a plumbing company.

So far, the county has spent $13,083 on MBP, with the last payment made on Nov. 21.

The county contracted with MBP to make recommendations to fix the building and could use MBP later to serve as expert witnesses if the county decides to sue for costs of the repairs.

Able Constructors are in bankruptcy, which is causing delays in getting repairs done. Able Constructors’ bonding agency for the project must hire any contractors to complete the repairs.

Interim county manager Marche Pittman said the county is currently in negotiations with the surety company to make the necessary repairs to the building.