Nolan County Courthouse repairs: progress made toward county projects

Rodney Harvey with Curtainwall Design Consulting led the powerpoint presentation and discussion regarding the state of the courthouse and the options available for repair during the special County Commissioners' meeting on Friday morning, March 16, 2012, in which several steps were taken toward the progress of the Nolan County Courthouse renovations as well as the construction of the new jail and sheriff's offices for the county.The three hour meeting included thorough presentations for the two projects from Wiginton Hooker and Jeffrey, the architect selected by the county, and allowed for in-depth dialogue between the commissioners and the presenters.The conditions of the courthouse exterior were granite veneer as stated on the original project specifications from 1976. The problem, however, came from the original installation. The types originally recommended weren't used, in which Mr. Harvey explained how the granite veneer was supposed to be installed. Pictures were shown of the actual project condition, which didn't allow for expansion and contraction.Other original conditions presented was the concrete block support walls, which were tested and confirmed to be a light weight block. The use of the block was common for the time and the 1976 building codes, which was pertinent to the original project as shown in the original construction drawings.The actual project conditions were then presented to the commissioners, with the block wall restraints not welded to the beams as specified. Thus, wind pressure felt in the area and the open space which trapped air and water because of the block was not filled in eventually led to the deterioration.In addition, the damage made an internal impact in the courthouse. Thermal imaging shown noted a 14-degree difference in temperature within the same room.The calculations on the existing conditions along with the results in some areas of the facility confirmed the building's inability to meet the original code requirements from 1976.Furthermore, the actual condition of the original perapet flashing were presented, which showed an open path that allowed for water intrusion in the cavity. Wind pressure and the deteriorating anchors led to moisture and the breakdown of the wall blocking.The punched windows were also of concern and were noted as a safety hazard. Fourteen windows are currently on the courthouse and to replace each unit to be energy efficient was estimated at $2,750 each. Additionally, the four vertical strips with the door are estimated to cost $9,000 for each to be replaced with a energy efficient unit. A video was shown of the windows, which were wobbly and insecure. Roc Construction, during their work of removing the granite from the courthouse, attempted to secure the windows for fear of more slabs falling from the building.At this time, two proposed remediation options were presented. As the courthouse is not to be completely reconstructed but only repaired, the work done will meet the building codes from the original construction date of 1976.Following the presentations, a Q and A was conducted in determining how the options will affect daily operations at the courthouse. Notable dialogue included the fact that the repair would present an opportunity to add insulation to the building, which will positively impact energy costs.Concerns were also raised about the granite, since the commissioners were leaning toward using a different exterior, and what to do with the extraneous slabs of granite.The commissioners approved an amended Option B, which removes the battered wall at the base. A new steel and aluminum framing will be installed along with two to three inches of insulation, followed by the installation of a new exterior. This option bypasses the existing concrete block wall.No costs were presented with the presentations, but the company agreed to come back to the county with a cost proposal based on the selected option in order to make another informed decision.