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Board OKs $2.5 Million Middle School Roof Repair

This leaking skylight at Pottsgrove Middle School should be gone by next August

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – The cost of fixing the Pottsgrove Middle School roof and other portions of the building needing repair was trimmed Tuesday (Dec. 5, 2017) by $40,000, but school district taxpayers will nonetheless pick up the $2.5 million expense for what experts claimed was faulty installation of materials 20 years ago by the building’s original contractor.

The Board of School Directors authorized a design-build subsidiary of Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance in Ohio to complete a list of nine items that covers replacing the roof to demolishing and rebuilding deteriorating brick walls. They expect the work will be finished by August 2018, before the start of the next academic year.

Tremco representatives attending the board meeting reported it wasn’t the roof design that caused a host of leaks, “but the way it was installed.” Most property insurers would not have agreed to cover the ballast method used to anchor the roof in place, they said. Their replacement roofing, instead, will consist of individually fastened roofing sheets for greater stability and security.

Earlier installation problems were discovered only after the original roof warranty expired, according to district Business Manager David Nester. As a result, Pottsgrove lacks the ability to file any sort of claim that might help defray the cost, he added.

The $40,000 savings comes from the board’s decision to avoid replacing a long, leaking skylight located near the entrance to the school auditorium. The hole left by its removal will be filled with roofing material and accompanied by new lighting fixtures to ensure the area remains bright.

Besides the roof replacement, valued at $2,310,000; the skylight removal, reduced to about $22,000; and contingencies the scope of work also includes:

  • Removing and replacing a chimney cap, $6,300;
  • Replacing exterior wall joint sealants above the roof line, $11,800;
  • Creating a new joint control at a corner of the school gym, $7,300;
  • Replacing wall flashings at leak locations, $45,000
  • Demolishing and rebuilding a wall near the school’s air handling system, $65,500;
  • Rebuilding a joint control at the near the upper entrance pedestrian bridge, $14,600; and
  • Installing new wall flashing at a leak location near the cafeteria, $19,600.

Board Operations and Facilities Committee Chairman Bob Lindgren, who also is an engineer, said working with a design-build firm represented an important change in the district’s approach to addressing its building problems. Because Tremco will both design and install the work on the list, it alone is responsible for results, Lindgren said.

Earlier district projects, he explained, typically were of the design-bid-build variety. Those usually involved an architect that designed a solution, which was later handed off to the lowest responsible bidder to build. Finger-pointing occasionally occurred – with the architect and contractor blaming each other, and the district caught between them – when the work didn’t meet expectations.

The district in 2012 paid a different contractor more than $402,000 to replace the retaining wall outside the middle school, which was said to be disintegrating because of poor drainage and earth movement. Those problems also were blamed on the original contractor.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Dec. 5 meeting):

Photo from the Pottsgrove School District

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