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School floor has costly crack-up

Removal of the concrete flooring began Tuesday as crews used a jackhammer in the southeast corner of the new Career and Technical Building at Oak Harbor High School.    - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Removal of the concrete flooring began Tuesday as crews used a jackhammer in the southeast corner of the new Career and Technical Building at Oak Harbor High School.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

Cracks in the concrete floor recently poured for the new Career and Technical Building at Oak Harbor will require the 27,000 square feet of concrete to be removed and replaced over the next two weeks.

Midway through the pour, a testing agency noticed the concrete was unevenly distributed, Gary Goltz, capital projects director for the Oak Harbor School District, said. The architect’s specifications called for the floor to be four inches thick throughout, but in several places the floor was only half that thickness.

Ebenal Construction added a new layer of concrete to confront the problem.

“It looked terrible,” Goltz said at Monday’s school board meeting. “But the contractor said he could polish it, or grind it out.”

The following Wednesday, the general contractor of Ebenal Construction discovered one small section of concrete, the site of the future wood shop, that was less than an inch thick.

“His subcontractor noticed a series of cracks in that area. He grabbed a hammer and broke right through the concrete,” Goltz said.

The contractor reported the problem to the school district and voluntarily chose to remove the entire concrete floor and start over again. On Tuesday, crews brought in jackhammers to begin breaking up the concrete.

“Ebenal stepped forward with this and are not hiding their work. We have our concerns but we will watch the process carefully,” Goltz said.

Removing the concrete will not impact the structure of the building, which is already framed in. The general contractor will also be responsible for funding the setback.

“I imagine it will be costly to fix,” Goltz said.

The uneven distribution was likely caused by a laser screed, which uses laser technology to level the floor. The machine may have been dropped, Goltz said, and not re-calibrated.

Goltz said he’s confident the new CTE building will be finished on schedule. He added that the contractor estimates it will take 10 days to remove the concrete and pour a new floor. Crews will begin in the southeast corner and pour in smaller sections.

“To make up for lost time, they will work six-day weeks for the next couple months,” Goltz said.

The school board commended Ebenal for fixing the work and maintaining their professional integrity.

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