The owner of a skilled nursing facility in Lynnwood, Washington, contacted Charter Construction at the end of 2016 to assist in an investigation of a small portion of a hallway that appeared to have water intrusion problems. We addressed this expected subsequent repair of property damage by removing the drywall at the hallway ceiling. We exposed a large amount of dry rot in this location and entered into a contract to repair approximately one-third of the roof, which included repairs to waterdamaged and heavily rotted ceiling joists and roof sheathing. The initial scope was limited in nature due to the desire of the owner to maintain occupancy at the facility. Once the extent of the damage was fully realized, it became impossible for the owner to continue to occupy and remain operational. As actual work progressed, additional previously concealed damage was discovered and identified. The owner decided to shut down the facility and relocate patients.
Deteriorated roof sheathing and unsafe ceiling joists were found throughout the roof using both visual inspection and infrared technology to survey undisturbed areas. A flat roof covers approximately one third of the building, and this roof is tied into other elements of the building. Replacement of the entire roof was recommended in order to capture the necessary structural repairs and provide a continuous, new building roof membrane. Charter removed many interior finishes in order to accomplish electrical and mechanical repairs arising from water damage.
Due to the size of the renovation undertaken, the jurisdiction required several large-scale code upgrades that extended the scope even further: a new electrical service to the building, a new fire alarm system and a new sprinkler system throughout. The new electrical service necessitated a new emergency generator because the existing generator was not sized for the new service. During renovations, it was also discovered that the building boiler system had failed and a large majority of the plumbing piping was damaged and leaking, so the owner directed Charter to replace the water piping throughout.
It should be noted that the boiler heat was radiated into patient rooms with baseboard heaters, and that the Department of Health would not approve these in a new installation, so some other means of heating the patient rooms was required due to the boiler failure. We put heaters high up in the walls to accommodate the DOH request. A new corridor HVAC system was also priced and included to provide heat and cooling to the corridors and office spaces.
Code upgrades, scope creep and changes, and the age of the building all contributed to a very challenging project with all trades involved, from earthwork through electrical. Many previously undisturbed locations, when opened, were found to be poorly built or suffering from decay, and were in dire need of not just repair, but complete replacement. These conditions occurred almost everywhere in the building, from the crawlspace through the attic, and in most of the wings of the building. We were also dealing with a very particular and scrupulous municipality that provided Charter with a detailed education on code interpretation for the IEBC.
(Above) The physical therapy gym prior to remodel, showing the existing flat ceiling to be replaced with a new gabled roof structure. (Below) The physical therapy gym after remodel, including a new Occupational Therapy Kitchen, bathroom and shower for patient rehabilitation. The French doors lead to a new raised outdoor deck installed by Charter.
Creative Solutions Utilized
Based on past experience with senior living facilities, Charter recommended to the owner that a suspended ceiling be installed in the corridors in order to provide a small chase for legacy wiring, sprinkler piping and other elements that would be concealed in newer buildings, but were in many cases exposed in this building. The entire roof framing system had to be raised in place by 6 and a half inches. New drop-in LED fixtures and new grid and tile would also provide better lighting, easier future maintenance for the facility, and a lighter and brighter finish in the corridors. Charter worked with the owner to provide a complete remodeling scope on the fly throughout the project, even as changes were demanded by the code enforcement agencies and IEBC. Even though our in-house architect provided drawings, very often Charter would produce field sketches and documentation for incorporation into final designs so the project could keep moving.
After demo, the new kitchen includes a walk-in cooler and freezer and a thoroughly redesigned cook and serve line.
Financial Synopsis of the Project’s Value
The initial estimate for this project was approximately $1M and a six-month timeframe, due to working in an occupied facility. After city-required code upgrades and additional owner requested upgrade elements were factored, the final cost was over $5M. However, the owner secured an essentially entirely new building for this cost, which is probably half what a new build would cost for a project this size. Apart from new interior finishes and an updated roof, new electrical, plumbing, fire sprinkler, HVAC, nurse call system, and fire alarm infrastructure were all designed and installed as part of the scope of this project. The facility kitchen and laundry room were upgraded, modernized, and rebuilt with new fixtures and equipment. The nurse’s stations and all patient rooms were upgraded with all new finishes and fixtures, leading to a demonstrable improvement in the quality of life for both residents and staff.
Cost Savings to Client
Charter employs a full-time architect on staff who generated the drawings and worked with the city to permit the project at a significant cost savings to the client versus hiring an outside firm. Additionally, the close working relationship between Charter’s field and architecture teams meant that questions and problems could be easily resolved with phone calls and emails rather than a more formalized (and often slower) RFI/ASI process.
A Unique Project
This project grew from a very straightforward roof replacement into a multidisciplinary full remodel of an existing facility requiring the expertise of architectural and structural professionals and the full range of subcontractor specialists. Charter’s long years of experience with both complex and health care projects ensured that the owner felt very positive about the project despite delays in completion that extended the schedule far beyond what was originally planned.
As the structural condition of the building was under investigation, we recommended that the owner consider the State of Washington’s Imminent Collapse guidelines. We thought the owner had the possibility for insurance recovery under policy language for Substantial Structural Impairment (SSI). We proceeded with our investigation and documentation as if we were preparing for this type of claim coverage. Our company has a strong background in large insurance claims, investigation, working with thirdparty consultants, reconstruction and restoration work.Each of these areas of expertise helped with this project’s progress and preparation for an SSI claim.
The roof was torn off during one of the worst winters in the area. We came up with a unique scaffolding tenting system to cover the entire flat roof system so the project could progress as scheduled through the weather event. The building’s interior did not have any water intrusion during the project because of the system put in place. We manage large, complex projects in occupied structures better than anyone in the business. We are able to do this because we are proactive, and we operate with a sense of urgency, active accountability and a level of execution second to none.
This article was shared in C&R with the permission of the Restoration Industry Association.