Courthouse design flaw costs $36,000

ALAMOSA — Using a pre-engineered metal building for the new Alamosa County judicial complex was supposed to save the county money, however, it may become more expensive than originally anticipated. At their Wednesday meeting the commissioners approved a $36,000 change order to fix a design flaw that lead to the installation of defective beams.

"I'm not happy with it," said Larry Schreiner of Sage Constructors. "Nobody is happy with it. I'm pointing the finger a little bit at everybody and I'm getting a little bit of help out of everybody."

Located in the clearstory—the raised section of the roof that lets in natural light—the beams were deflecting over three inches, making it structurally unsound and able to break windows and drywall.

"Metal buildings are a lot different than structural steel buildings," said Schreiner. "They're built to move and sway a little bit. But I can't have that much flexing."

The beams' 3-and-a-half inch wide, 24-gauge metal studs will be replaced with 8-inch wide, 18-gauge metal studs. Originally designed to withstand 70 mph winds, it can now handle 120 mph gusts.

"It was under-designed and now we're probably over-designed, but it is what it is and it's what I need to do to move forward," Schreiner said. "I will continue to work on this and keep hammering on it to see what I can do to reduce the cost even more."

Both Alcon Construction Inc. and GH Phipps Constructions Companies said that they would partially help, cutting the cost by a total of $9,200.

The money for repair will come from state judicial reimbursement funds so the county does not need to dip into the roughly $1 million contingency fund set aside.

"This seems like it's a critical thing," said Alamosa County Commissioner Helen Sigmond. "I don't think we really have a choice. We have got to go with it."