Seaver Construction ordered to stop exterior work on Tisbury ESF
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Seaver Construction has been told to stop work on several elements of the building envelope on Tisbury's new emergency services facility (ESF).
Project manager Michael Lawrence of HKT Architects issued the order in a letter dated May 20, addressed to Seaver vice president of operations Ken DellaCroce.
Mr. Lawrence based his order on a seven-page report plus appendix, prepared by Building Enclosure Associates (BEA), an independent consulting firm based in Cambridge.
In his letter, Mr. Lawrence instructed Seaver Construction "to stop work on all elements of the project outlined in the report as having deficiencies until the investigation of the deficiencies and identification of appropriate corrective action has been completed; and protect all work related to those elements that is currently in place."
The ESF project already has experienced several delays. At the time of the groundbreaking, in April 2010, the contract completion date for the 13-month project was set for June 4, 2011. Even before this latest setback, the construction schedule was at least two months behind.
On the recommendation of the ESF building committee, the Tisbury selectmen hired BEA to evaluate significant water leaks and associated issues, and to make recommendations for remedial and weatherproofing work.
Committee chairman Joe Tierney reported at the selectmen's May 3 meeting that the building is still not weather-tight after more than one year of construction. The building committee called for an independent analysis so that problems with water leaks, moisture, and humidity might be addressed as soon as possible, Mr. Tierney said.
BEA conducted a site visit on May 11, to review the building's current condition, to identify the sources of reported water leakage, and to recommend remedial work to address leak issues, as well as other concerns with weatherproofing the building.
"The construction of building enclosure elements is in various stages of completion," the BEA report's summary of findings said. "The leakage that is occurring at the Tisbury Emergency Services Facility is due to a combination of incomplete work and deficient work."
The report includes a list of items and recommended fixes under the headings of concrete, masonry, metals, thermal, and moisture protection, and building openings.
"It should be noted that the condition of unprotected building materials susceptible to moisture or ultraviolet rays will also need to be evaluated at the time when remedial work is performed," the BEA further states. "It may be necessary to replace, in entirety, building materials that are damaged due to weather exposure."
Called by The Times for a comment Wednesday, Seaver Construction president Scott Seaver said the report highlights many problems that stem from personnel no longer at work on the project.
In response to Mr. Lawrence's letter, he said, "We've got our own building envelope guy, who has put together, with what we agreed with the architect and the owner, a plan to address the issues.
"There are some things in the report that are extreme that we don't think we have to address, particularly on the roof," he added. "Some of the report relates to incomplete work and some of it to deficiencies, and frankly, obviously the deficiencies would be corrected as we complete the work."
Mr. Seaver said HKT Architects and owner's project manager (OPM) David Lager of NETCO Project Managers requested a written plan from Seaver for the exterior work.
In the meantime, Mr. Seaver said, "Some things we could still continue to do, like installing Tyvek on the outside of the building. Once we got that done, we stopped work on the exterior until we could get this document put together.
"We will submit something next week, and we want to start as quickly as possible, once we get their blessing," Mr. Seaver added. "In the meantime, we will keep going on the inside and can still do some work on the site."
About additional costs that will be incurred, Mr. Seaver said, "I'm sure they're going to be sending a lot of that my way."
In a phone conversation with The Times on Tuesday, Mr. Tierney said Mr. Lawrence made a site visit to the ESF construction site last week to verify all of the BEA report's findings.
One inaccuracy in the report involved the roof. Mr. Tierney said although the report listed an ice/water protection membrane as missing, the BEA inspector did not actually go up on the roof to verify that; he and Mr. Lawrence did go up and found the membrane had been installed. The report has been corrected.
The decision to halt work on the building envelope stemmed from discussions between Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Lager, the ESF building committee, and town officials, Mr. Tierney said.
At his request, the Tisbury selectmen scheduled a joint meeting with the building committee to discuss the BEA report at 5 pm on Tuesday, June 7, in the Katharine Cornell Theatre.
Tisbury and Chilmark complaints
In a telephone conversation with The Times on Friday, May 20, Mr. Seaver said his company has taken steps to address complaints recently made by the Tisbury and Chilmark selectmen about the company's work on municipal projects in their towns.
Seaver Construction, based in Woburn, is the general contractor for three such projects on Martha's Vineyard. In addition to Tisbury's ESF, the others are Chilmark's Middle Line Road affordable housing project, and the Dukes County Sheriff's Office Communications Center next to Martha's Vineyard Airport.
The projects are Seaver Construction's first on Martha's Vineyard and definitely required an "Island learning curve," Mr. Seaver told The Times.
"It's a different environment, more so than we thought, frankly," he said. "We knew we'd have challenges, obviously, but they have been more than we predicted. And we had some personnel problems along the way, which were exacerbated by being on an Island."
Tisbury emergency services facility
Seaver Construction was awarded a $5.52 million construction contract to build Tisbury's approximately 18,500-square-foot ESF on West Spring Street across from Tisbury School.
The Tisbury selectmen berated Seaver Construction vice president of operations Ken DellaCroce at a meeting on May 3. They complained of poor communication and response time from Seaver, a long list of items on a corrective action log (CAL) that had not been addressed, and ongoing problems with the project superintendent. The town requested his removal in April.
Mr. DellaCroce said Seaver already had appointed an acting superintendent and proposed to make him the superintendent, pending the architect and owner's project manager's (OPM) approval.
In response to questions in a recent email from The Times, Mr. Tierney said the acting project superintendent has already addressed many of about 70 CAL items.
The project's biggest stumbling blocks have been concrete placement and the coordination of subcontractors, Mr. Tierney said. "We are now on our third concrete subcontractor," he noted.
As Mr. Tierney explained, hiring subcontractors has had a domino effect on the project's progress. For example, to make the building weather-tight, Mr. Tierney said Seaver needed to hire a sidewalk-and-trim subcontractor, but had run into delays in doing so. Mr. DellaCroce said at the selectmen's May 3 meeting that the person Seaver lined up had decided he did not want to work on the Island. Until the exterior trim was installed, the roof could not be finished, Mr. Tierney said, which contributed to the building's current problems with humidity, moisture, and leaks.
"While there have been some stumbling blocks, we have a good set of subcontractors, and at this point, I am cautiously optimistic Seaver will see this job through," Mr. Tierney's email said.
Tisbury and Seaver Construction are still at odds over how to resolve a botched job on the concrete slab poured for the building by a subcontractor last November. The selectmen also approved the building committee's request to hire an independent concrete consultant to provide more information for possible solutions.
Chilmark Middle Line Road project
Seaver Construction was awarded a contract for $1.9 million from Chilmark and began nine months ago to build three duplex affordable rental-housing units as part of the town's Middle Line Road project.
On May 18, the Chilmark selectmen, architect David Handlin, OPM Michael Josefek and other town officials met with Mr. Seaver, Mr. DellaCroce, and project superintendent Rick Senna. Many of the issues they discussed about the Middle Line Road project were similar to Tisbury's. Among them were a 90-item CAL that included improperly installed insulation and sheet rock, and concrete floors that are too shallow.
Criticism was aimed at the project's overall management and not at Mr. Senna, who reported that all of the CAL items for the three buildings have been addressed. As a result of the meeting, the Chilmark selectmen granted Seaver Construction a 30-day extension, until mid-August, to complete the project.
As discussed with the selectmen, Seaver Construction added a second supervisor at the Middle Road construction site on May 23, Mr. Seaver said last week. Also, weekly inspections by Mr. Handlin, which were already included in the terms of the contract, will now be done in a more formal manner, he added.
Dukes County Communications Center
So far the third Island project has proved to be the charm for Seaver Construction. The $1.5 million construction project to renovate the basement of the Dukes County Community Corrections Center will provide new offices for the Communications Center, which dispatches emergency response Island-wide for all 9-1-1 calls. After completion on November 11, the communications center will move from its cramped quarters in a small building across the street.
Sheriff Michael McCormack said he attends construction meetings every other week with the architects and representatives from Seaver Construction and the state division of capital asset management. So far, the project is on track, he told The Times in a recent phone conversation.
Mr. Seaver agreed that the Communications Center project is running smoothly. And as of last week, he said, "We've got a solid schedule put together in Chilmark; we're just trying to smooth out the process.
"Our biggest challenge is in Tisbury," Mr. Seaver concluded. "Tisbury is basically in a stage of transition."