Years of water damage and exposure to the elements at the Old Courthouse has racked up unforeseen costs for the city, pushing the $775,000 roofing project over the $1 million mark.

At the Dec. 2 meeting, City Council approved a 12th change order for the roof project that totals more than $91,000 for decorative crown moulding installation and repairs to rotten soffit boards integral to the building’s gutter system structure.

“It was the worst of the worst when it came to the soffits,” said city planner Nancy Baker. “For the most part, it’s things that are not immediately apparent. From the outside, you don’t see how bad the substructure is until you tear it open, then it’s everywhere.”

Baker said the Old Courthouse has sustained an alarming amount of water damage. Though patches and repairs over the years temporarily fixed leaks and cracks, she said they were mostly Band-Aids covering up more severe issues.

“It’s really obvious, with some of this work, that if it wasn’t done now … the roof wasn’t going to last much longer,” Baker said. “You’d either lose the building or it would be incredibly more expensive to

reconstruct the whole thing if something collapsed. Whatever would be left would not have maintained the historic fabric of the building.”
Baker said the reason the cost was so high for the change order was because the work was very labor intensive. The material cost was not expensive, but lift rental and precision work quickly ran up the bill. The soffits also were loaded with nesting material all the way around the building and workers cleared out buckets full of it.

More soffit restoration will be needed soon, and the city will bid out more projects next year. For now, the contractor Renaissance Restoration only completed work necessary to the integrity of the building.

The final roof project this year will include another change order estimated at $10,000 for snow guards to be installed on the roof over the Courthouse doorways and above the public-access patio areas to prevent snow from falling onto patrons.

In addition to roof work, the Courthouse stairs are proving troublesome. A change order of about $23,000 was made to the $168,350 contract, bringing the stair work total to $191,692. The original contract included replacing the Sheriff’s House stairs with new limestone and railings and repairing the limestone stairs and installing railings in front of the Courthouse. After workers exposed the remaining limestone of the Courthouse stairs, they found the limestone was totally fractured. The city had to order additional stone and complete masonry repair to the steps’ foundation walls.

Baker said the city will need to continue with projects on the Courthouse to retain the historic landmark including masonry, window and brick and stone work.

“Snow and rain is coming through and causing damage,” she said. “Water makes its way in all different directions.”

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