Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Faulty school roofs face new, pricey woes

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 11/13/2013

Problems with roofs at two Ottawa elementary buildings continue to hang over the school district.

“[Garfield Elementary School] doesn’t meet building codes to support the existing roof, much less a new roof,” consultant Greg Leslie told Ottawa school board members at their meeting Monday night.

Problems with roofs at two Ottawa elementary buildings continue to hang over the school district.

“[Garfield Elementary School] doesn’t meet building codes to support the existing roof, much less a new roof,” consultant Greg Leslie told Ottawa school board members at their meeting Monday night.

“Your roof structure is not centered over the structural beams,” Leslie said.

Leslie is a technical consultant with The Garland Company Inc., a building materials company that has worked with numerous school districts in the Kansas City metropolitan area. His revelation Monday was the latest chapter in an ongoing battle between the school district and Manning Construction Company and its subcontractors.

The Ottawa school district filed a civil suit April 13, 2011, against Manning Construction and several subcontractors, seeking damages for what it claimed was faulty work — citing leaks in the roofs and cracking in the floors of Garfield and Lincoln elementary schools within a year of the projects being completed. Manning was the general contractor in charge of the construction of Lincoln, 1102 N. Milner Road, and a major renovation project at Garfield, 1213 S. College St., which began in 2005. Both projects were substantially complete in early 2007, according to court documents.

Almost two years to the day after the civil suit was filed, the school board voted April 15 to approve a $2.5 million settlement negotiated between attorneys and representatives of Manning Construction and the school district negotiating team of then-school board president Susan Ward, school board member Dennis George and the district’s attorney, Michael Norris.

With the settlement in hand, the school board voted in June to accept Kansas City, Kan.-based Delta Innovative Services’ low bid of $1,140,000 to repair the roof at Garfield, and to approve Olathe-based Boone Brothers Roofing’s low bid of $1,141,300 to repair Lincoln’s roof.

The problem with Garfield’s roof substructure recently was discovered as workers prepared to install the new roof at the school, Leslie said.

Leslie told the school board Monday he thought the district executed the agreement with Manning in good faith, but he thought checks and balances that should have been in place on the construction end of the project fell through somewhere along the way.

“I think you should discuss with your attorney what action should be taken, because you didn’t get what you paid for,” Leslie said. “We’ve got copies of emails and documentation that says it was supposed to be 4 feet on center [from beam to beam] and it’s not — it’s 4 feet, 8 inches. [Delta] cannot proceed with a new roof until the substructure can be taken care of. The roofing contractor has gone through quite a bit of expense because he was getting ready to start when we uncovered all this.”

Board members questioned the safety of the roof.

“What about safety of the occupants right now?” Bill Allegre, school board member, asked.

Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa superintendent, said structural engineer Wayne Davis, with Bob D. Campbell and Co., Kansas City, Mo., recently inspected the roof and did not raise concerns about safety.

“The roof has been there since 2005, and we’ve had a number of heavy snows, wind and so on since then,” Stroh said. “Dr. [Brian] Kraus [Ottawa assistant superintendent] and I spoke with Wayne Davis on Friday, and he didn’t mention anything about having safety concerns. His big concern was [putting] the overlay on top of the roof. It won’t support the overlay, that was his concern, not that it was unsafe at the moment.”

Stroh asked the school board to approve hiring Davis to perform a safety analysis of the Garfield roof structure at a cost of $9,600.

“We’re asking that the board [commission] Wayne Davis’ firm to do a full safety analysis [of the roof structure in its current state],” Stroh said. “And that analysis will let us know what steps need to be taken to ensure that the roof is done the right way and is safe in the future — because it should be a lifetime roof.”

The school board voted 6-0 to approve the safety analysis.

With regard to the roof at Lincoln, Leslie said, all of it, except for the office area, was designed to minimum standards.

“It does meet code, but it won’t support another roof without taking the existing panels completely off and then putting the new panels on,” Leslie said, which would come at an additional cost beyond the original estimate.

“Any guess as to what this is going to cost?” David White, school board president, asked.

“My nearest guesstimate is $100,000 to $150,000 to remove those panels [at Lincoln],” Leslie said. “I couldn’t even ball-park Garfield at this point, not knowing what [the structural engineer] is going to have to do to change the substructure. At this point, we can’t even take off the existing panels and put on the new panels.”

The conditions of the recent $2.5 million settlement prevents the district from filing further litigation against Manning Construction for roof and floor problems at the two schools, Stroh said. But, she said, school district attorney Norris is reviewing the settlement agreement documents to see if the district does have some recourse it can take against Manning Construction to offset the additional costs.

Leslie told school board members he would like to be included on the conversation with the attorney, because he thought the roof and the roof structure — where the newly discovered problem at Garfield exists — are two separate items.

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