Shoddy construction plagues West Tis School
West Tisbury school officials and selectmen want to repair at least 18 windows in the West Tisbury elementary school before classes resume in September.
The needed repair work results from shoddy construction practices more than a decade ago, according to a recent inspection report.
Vineyard Haven architect Geoffrey Kofer, in a May 28 inspection report to assistant school principal Bob Lane, wrote that he found "extensive" termite, mold and water damage around the windows, sheathing and interior walls during a mid-May inspection of work performed in 1994-1996 by JK Scanlon Company of Falmouth.
"This is very disturbing," selectman Richard Knabel told fellow selectmen last week. Yesterday, Mr. Knabel emphasized the need for quick action. "We've only got six weeks until Labor Day. We need to determine who's responsible for this and get it fixed," he said.
Mr. Lane, school officials, Kofer associate Peter Marzbanian and Richard Scanlon, a Scanlan company principal, met at the school last week to assess damage and discuss liability, if any, to the contractor.
Mr. Lane said Mr. Scanlon took photos and notes and promised a timely response after discussing the situation with his brother. The Times made three unsuccessful phone calls this week to reach the company for comment.
While repair costs are not final, several builders familiar with home remodeling said repairs could be $50,000 and as much as $100,000, depending on final damage assessment. The Scanlan company built two wings of similar design and size between 1994 and 1996.
Only one, the so-called "C Wing," has been inspected for repair needs. The wing houses first and second graders. Executive secretary Jen Rand confirmed that insurance would not cover the loss. Mr. Lane said the damaged windows would not affect the habitability of the wing for students.
"Extensive damage was found surrounding the window and grille caused both by rot and a termite infestation," said the report. "The termite and rot damage in this area was both structural and cosmetic and the water infiltration has caused mold to establish itself on the wall cavity side of the interior gypsum board. The principal cause of the water infiltration appears to be the poor quality of the joint between the windowsill and the side casings. However, please note that the window installation in general was poorly done and 'normal' good construction weatherproofing practices such as the installation of the proper flashings and "window splines(sic)" were not included in the original work."
The report also said detailed building plans for the wing were not followed by the builder.
The four-page report is critical of several other construction techniques, including "the lack of a galvanized metal "sleeve" connecting the through-wall HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) unit with its exterior grille..." The lack of a sleeve permitted wind blown rain to enter the wall and did not allow the unit's condensate (sic) to drain properly. This may also have allowed termites access to the wall cavity," the report said.