Agency CM

February 13, 2019

Quake-damaged middle school has faced design questions since it was built in the early 1980s

Source: http://www.alaskastar.com, February 12, 2019
By: Matt Tunseth

Engineers had serious questions about whether Gruening Middle School could withstand a powerful earthquake from the time the school was built, according to a collection of news stories written about the school’s troubled construction in the early 1980s.

“A major earthquake would produce significant damage and a possible partial collapse,” at the school, California engineering firm Forell/Elsesser Engineers Inc. wrote in a 1983 report to the Anchorage School District.

The firm was commissioned by the district after consultants determined the building — which was supposed to open in the fall of 1983 — was seriously flawed, news stories said. An investigation found errors in the engineering calculations and pointed out that the plans for the school didn’t receive oversight from Anchorage building inspectors, who some Eagle River builders resisted at the time. The district eventually retrofitted the school (which opened to students in 1984), but Forell/Elsesser warned inherent design flaws would likely always be an issue.

“It is not possible to overcome all deficiencies without major and costly reconstruction,” the company wrote.…

February 8, 2019

Builder of collapsed FIU pedestrian bridge had troubling construction failure at Port Everglades

Source: https://www.floridabulldog.org, February 6, 2019
By: Dan Christensen

Two months after last year’s fatal FIU pedestrian bridge collapse in Miami, the company that built the bridge was responsible for a troubling construction failure at Port Everglades.

Munilla Construction Management LLC, which operates as MCM, was hired by Broward County in 2016 as the prime contractor for the Slip 2 expansion project at the north end of the port. The $18-million project, completed in August 2017, saw low-bidder MCM extend the length of the slip about 250 feet to the west and deepen it 50 feet to accommodate larger cruise and cargo ships.

Last May 4, however, something unexpected happened.

“One of the new fenders that MCM installed along Berth 4 fell off the wall this morning and into the Slip,” a port representative told an MCM manager in an email obtained by Florida Bulldog.  “We have already fished it out, and brought it back over to the storage yard, and temporarily hung a tire in that vicinity…This is now causing the Port to be concerned about the other fenders that MCM installed.”…

February 6, 2019

How Texas’ Uncommon Law Is Different on Design Defects

Source: https://www.enr.com, February 6, 2019
By: Scott Van Voorhis and Richard Korman

With land surveys, contractors often expect some information will be missing. But how much? Fifteen years ago, El Paso Corp. decided to replace a 68-mile-long pipeline with a new one that would carry butane from Corpus Christi, Texas, to inland Air Force bases. The energy company hired a Houston-based survey mapping firm to draw the route with rivers, roads and crossing rights of way. In all, the mapping company counted 280 survey crossings included in the bid package. No one pretended the count was final, and El Paso encouraged potential bidders to do their own survey.

Coral Gables, Fla.-based MasTec, at that time a newcomer to pipeline projects, hired an industry veteran who conducted a flyover of the route, but much was missed, court documents show. MasTec submitted a bid of $3.69 million, well below the average bid of $8.1 million. It signed a contract in 2003 where it took the risk for overruns.

In the end, MasTec had to contend with more than 794 unknown crossings in the pipeline route and the extra welding that would be required, and it sued to recover its losses.…

February 5, 2019

The butler did it: subcontractors pass the buck in downtown library lawsuit

Source: https://www.businessreport.com, February 4, 2019
By: Stephanie Riegel

The Texas subcontractor blamed in recent court filings for the structural failure that has stalled the under-construction downtown library for nearly 10 months now is denying culpability and pointing the finger at a Mississippi engineering firm.

In court documents filed January 29, Houston-based Structural Consultants Associates, Inc.—which was blamed in early January for the structural failure by the library’s architect and project manager, WHLC— says Meridien-based Carter Miller Associates Ltd. prepared shop drawings for structural steel connections used in the project “that contained errors. … As a result … there was a failure of certain structural steel connections at the project.”

SCA also suggests construction on the project could have resumed months ago but that WHLC is intentionally stalling. SCA says as far back as April 30 it notified WHLC it would be safe for general contractor Buquet and Leblanc to resume “light duty construction activities” but that no remediation work began. In mid-May, SCA issued another letter to WHLC, giving Buquet and Leblanc the go-ahead to resume full construction activities.…

November 16, 2018

Builder sues over $2 billion San Francisco transit center

Source: https://www.chieftain.com, October 17, 2018

The general contractor that managed San Francisco’s troubled $2 billion transit terminal is suing the agency in charge of the project alleging faulty design and mismanagement.

The joint venture of Webcor Builders and Obayashi Corp. filed the lawsuit Tuesday in San Francisco. It alleges design and planning mistakes sent construction soaring and led to overruns that cost the company $150 million.

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which operates the Salesforce Transit Center, denied the allegations in a statement Wednesday and said it would hold the contractor responsible for its commitment to deliver the project.

The contractor said it submitted 12,000 requests for information and 1,603 change order requests to officials during construction of the terminal in downtown San Francisco.

The contractor also alleged that tardy responses added to the rising costs.

The project has been mired in litigation.

In May, the engineering firm Skanska USA sued Webcor, saying the contractor’s alleged shoddy instructions led to cost overruns. In addition, the owners of a nearby high-rise apartment building that is sinking and tilting sued the agency. The owners of the Millennium Tower blame the transit center construction project for the building’s tilt.

The terminal opened in Aug. 12 after ten years of planning and construction. It closed a month later after cracks were found in two steel support beams. Agency officials said they don’t when the new terminal will be re-opened.

November 16, 2018

Columbia Gas engineer’s failures at root of gas explosions, NTSB says

“Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com, November 15, 2018
By: Milton J. Valencia

Federal investigators Thursday singled out a Columbia Gas engineer with “limited knowledge” for errors in drafting work plans for a Lawrence construction site, setting in motion a chain of events that led to the Sept. 13 natural gas explosions that killed one man and left thousands without heat and hot water.

In the most detailed accounting to date of the catastrophe, the National Transportation Safety Board identified a series of missteps by the utility at the planning stages for a gas main replacement project in South Lawrence. The agency recommended “urgent” steps to increase oversight within the company and at the state level.

The NTSB investigators have focused on the replacement project and the failure of the engineer planning that job to account for a critical sensor in a line that was being replaced. Once the line was disconnected, the sensor detected a loss in gas pressure that caused the system to pump a huge amount of gas into live lines, leading to more than 120 fires and explosions across Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover, the report found.

“The Columbia Gas field engineer who developed the engineering plans told NTSB investigators that he developed them without reviewing engineering drawings that documented the regulator-sensing lines,” the NTSB said in its report.…

November 16, 2018

Design errors revealed in Miami bridge that collapsed

Source: http://www.globalconstructionreview.com, November 16, 2018

A federal US body investigating the fatal collapse of a bridge in Miami has concluded that there were design errors which could have caused concrete cracking observed before the bridge fell.

Engineers overestimated the load capacity of a critical section, its interim report said.

The report released yesterday by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) avoided saying these errors caused the collapse.

Six people in cars died when the brand new pedestrian bridge over a busy road at Florida International University fell on 15 March.

In response to the update, bridge engineers FIGG issued a statement to The Miami Herald saying “the investigative update is just that, an update,” adding that the report “underscores that no probable cause conclusion should be drawn from the update.”

For the NTSB investigation, experts from the Federal Highway Administration evaluated the available design calculations and construction plans for the bridge, and found design errors.…

November 7, 2018

Contractors face tough time covering construction delays

Source: https://www.businessinsurance.com, November 6, 2018
By: Gaven Souter

Delays in construction projects can cause huge increases in costs, but identifying insurance policies to cover the costs is complex and varies significantly depending on policy wordings, construction insurance experts say.

While traditional construction insurance coverages may apply or specific delay in startup insurance may be triggered, there’s rarely a straightforward solution to covering the construction delays, they say.

Most construction projects run late, and a significant proportion of projects run over budget, said Tony Rastall, divisional director, energy, at Ed Broking Group Ltd. in London.…

October 31, 2018

The cost of allocating design risk to contractors

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, October 30, 2018
By: Doug Tabeling of Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP on behalf of Consesus Docs

Design flaws are a constant risk in construction, but the contractual allocation of that risk can sway considerably from project to project. Contract terms can vary from fully expressing an owner’s warranty of the sufficiency of plans and specifications to transferring significant design risk to the contractor. On a traditional design-bid-build project, the default allocation of the risk of design errors is governed by the Spearin doctrine. That principle is derived from a Supreme Court decision holding that the owner bears the risk associated with inadequacies in the design it provides and on which the construction contract is based. But it is only a default principle. The Spearin doctrine is a gap filler, an implied term in a construction contract that can be undermined and limited by express terms to which the owner and contractor agree.

There are several reasons why construction contracts vary in their allocation of the risk of design failures. Some owners prefer to achieve the cost savings associated with limiting the contractor’s risk concerning the design and curtailing the amount of contingency in the contractor’s price. Other owners, however, prefer not to assume the residual risk that is not assumed by the designer under its standard of care.…

August 10, 2018

Contractor fights faulty Portsmouth housing construction claims

Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com, August 3, 2018
By: Elizabeth Dinan

A contractor accused in a federal lawsuit of faulty construction at the 100-unit Wamesit Place housing complex filed a court motion denying liability, while reporting if it is found liable, so too should five other contractors who worked there.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims poor construction caused mold to grow in apartments, that firewalls “are inadequate and/or nonexistent throughout the apartments” and remediation will require a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents.

One of the defendants, Portland Builders, filed a July 30 notice with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire stating it was contract manager in 2011 and 2012 for renovations that included roofs, windows, doors and siding at homes throughout the neighborhood. The contractor reiterates Wamesit’s claim that defects were discovered, beginning in 2015, that led to mold and the discovery of code violations.

Portland Builders, in its new court filing, states it performed its work according to the scope of its agreement with Wamesit, but if a jury finds it liable for damages, it will ask a jury to share responsibility with Goduti-Thomas Architects, Veteran’s Construction, Eastern Mechanical, Corey Electric, Bio Environments and an unknown cable company.

The contractor alleges the Portland, Maine, architect designed the plans and specifications it followed and the construction company was contracted to “perform services related to the firewalls.” The mechanical company performed plumbing and ventilation work at Wamesit, the electric company installed bathroom ventilation fans and the environmental company conducted mold testing and remediation. The unknown cable (or security) company did work at the housing complex after Portland Builders was done, which “damaged firewalls,” the contractor’s court motion claims.

Based on those allegations, Portland Builders reports to the court that it “is entitled to have the jury apportion liability during the trial of this matter.”

Wamesit’s amended suit filed in April reports that between 2015 and 2017, mold was found in apartments, “that is growing due to the condensation of humid exhaust air accumulating and saturating insulation in ceilings and attics.” Mold remediation was conducted by third parties and before insulation could be replaced, it would have to remove all insulation, including in building overhangs, and clean all surfaces in ceilings and attics. All ceiling drywall will also have to be replaced and proper re-insulation will be needed, in addition to new bathroom fans and duct work to roof vents, it’s alleged.

Tenants in the apartments will need to be temporarily relocated during the repairs and Wamesit seeks an unspecified monetary award to cover related costs. Wamesit is alleging breach of contract and negligence in the federal suit.

Portland Builders previously countered that change orders eliminated attic insulation, ventilation “and other work that was part of the original contract.”

The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director, Craig Welch, previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss the pending litigation and he assured no residents’ health is at risk.…