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Construction of a new roof for the 15-year-old Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse could begin in the next three weeks.
The James City County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to award a contract to Norfolk-based Shaddeau Roofing and Construction.
The contract, valued at $703,499, will cover the cost of replacing the entire roof, which spans more than 30,000 square feet, and repairing the three cupolas.
Shaddeau has 180 days to complete the project and could do much of the work during the winter if construction begins this month.
“We’re very aware of the winter weather but there is a sequence they can go through that will minimize any dangers,” JCC General Services Director John Horne said. “We believe that [six months] is more than sufficient time to allow for some delays due to weather.”
Slate shingles began to fall off the roof as early as 2004 and the courthouse has suffered from leaks originating from the roof for several years.
A reviewing group of experts and courthouse representatives organized by Horne last year found that installation issues, specifically “improper spacing and attachment of the shingles,” triggered subsequent roof problems.
Since Horne presented the roof issues to the Board in July 2014, general services staff has focused on designing the new roof and determined the slate shingles should be replaced with ceramic tiles, which can last for 50 to 75 years if installed properly and have been used “with good long-term success” in Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William & Mary.
“If you walk by the Wren Building and look up, the roof looks like shingles but in fact it’s ceramic tiles,” Horne said.
Additionally, an ice shield will be applied to the roof to provide additional protection from wear from weather and water.
The replacement was delayed until funds could be accumulated to finance the project, Horne said, adding the county put out the bid in the fall so it would not compete with other roofing jobs that specialty firms like Shaddeau complete.
Horne said James City County will budget for the entire cost of the project but intends to discuss a cost-sharing arrangement with the City of Williamsburg.
The county requested two warranties for the project: a three-year warranty for installation and a 75-year warranty for the ceramic tiles.
There will be representatives from the tile manufacturer as well as the roof’s concrete plank manufacturer on site during construction.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hipple, a builder by trade, said he appreciates the additional precautions.
“We can’t protect from everything but we can be smart enough to protect from most of the things coming up,” Hipple said.
The courthouse will continue normal operations through construction. Horne said he anticipates this is the last time significant work will need to be done on the courthouse roof “in anyone’s lifetime.”
“This is a very important, very actively used facility and having a watertight roof will ensure it keeps operating,” Horne said. “It’s been able to keep operating when we’ve had this defective roof on it but it’s going to get progressively worse if we don’t accomplish the work.”