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Water leaks in state-owned buildings

A series of severe storms in October 2016 activated or worsened numerous water leaks in state-owned buildings.

The Department of Enterprise Services is responsible for the stewardship, preservation, operation and maintenance of the state Capitol Campus in Olympia. It is a top department top priority to investigate and fix water leaks to prevent water damage to the structure, finishings or contents of the buildings.

About 20 leak sites have been identified in five historic Capitol Campus buildings – the John A. Cherberg, Insurance, Legislative, Irving R. Newhouse and John L. O’Brien buildings. Some buildings have more than one leak site.

Another 20 leak sites are spread among state-owned facilities in Kelso, Sedro-Woolley, Tacoma, Tumwater and Yakima.

In late 2016 and early 2017, Enterprise Services remedied the most severe and high priority Capitol Campus leaks:

  • Long-term repairs were made in seven Capitol Campus leak sites.
  • Temporary repairs were made at six other leak sites on the campus.

By June 30, 2017, the department plans:

  • Repairs for at least six additional high-priority leak sites.
  • To work with building design consultants to scope what needs to be done at remaining leak sites.

Maintenance needs

As buildings on the Capitol Campus age, their maintenance requirements increase – including the need to address potential water leaks.

A building’s exterior shell – the roof, windows, insulation, and exterior walls and doors – is designed to keep the structure water-tight and maintain a comfortable temperature for people working or visiting the facility.

For historic buildings, this building envelope can be extremely complex. On the Capitol Campus, our historic buildings have numerous architectural features that interconnect with each other. Issues with leaks are often due to breaches that occur where different types of building materials overlap.

Roofing and other building envelope elements have an effective lifespan. Once exceeded, Enterprise Services must either replace major portions of a building’s system or make temporary repairs.

Repair highlights: Capitol Campus

Recent work

Cherberg Building: An emergency repair with a construction cost of $60,000 was conducted to fix a water leak that resulted in moderately-high volumes of water entering the basement of the historic Cherberg Building, where members of the Washington State Senate and their staff work. Enterprise Services found that the leak was the result of a collapsed underground roof drain leader backing up into the building as well as an aging concrete basement wall. In the course of the repair it became evident that the soils around the Cherberg building have very poor drainage. Ultimately, the building will need more extensive repairs to correct drainage issues near its basement walls.

In March, 2017, Enterprise Services also repaired a new and chronic leak that materialized during wet weather in March when a roof drain seal began to fail.

Enterprise Services has obtained cost estimates for repairs to additional leaks at the Cherberg Building, and is scheduling the work to begin in May. Most of the leak locations originate on the building’s roof or its roof-level mechanical equipment room. Two repair locations are in the basement and will require work in interior spaces as well as excavation work along the south side of the building.

Legislative Building: Enterprise Services believes it has found and repaired the source of the most critical leaks in the Legislative Building – the capitol building for the state of Washington. The investigation, diagnosis and repair for one location in the south west corner of the building was fairly complex and included electronic field vector mapping to identify possible breaches in the roof membrane that allow water through as well as partial flood testing of the roof membrane and drains. Ultimately it was determined that there were multiple leak locations in the building’s parapet walls and caps. The construction cost for these repairs was $34,000.

The department also installed a new metal roof above the State Reception Room where there was an active leak as part of the West Campus Exteriors project. Until this year, the only cover over this portion of the building was exposed sandstone. The new roof was bid as part of a larger West Campus Exteriors project, with a $54,000 construction cost for the roof portion of the project.

DES completed an emergency repair in January, 2017, to fix multiple leak locations in the building's southwest corner parapet walls and caps. In February, 2017, new and chronic water leaks in the mini-dome features materialized that have caused damage to components of the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. DES has hired a consultant to investigate and scope the leak repairs.

Insurance Building: Enterprise Services fixed a leak originating in the roof by repairing failed junctions between the roof’s membrane and an aging metal roof systems as well as a roof drain. The temporary repair cost $10,000. Without a full roof replacement, more temporary repairs will be needed. Work is dependent on funding.

John L. O’Brien Building: Enterprise Services has hired a consultant to investigate and design repairs to fix leaks in this building, where members of the Washington State House of Representatives and their staff work. Repairs to numerous leak locations, most of which originate on the roof or the building's roof-level mechanical equipment room, will begin in early May.

Temple of Justice Building: Work included in the West Campus Exterior Buildings Project that started in February 2017 is focused on maintenance of the stone exterior on the Washington State Supreme Court building. Cleaning on the Temple of Justice building was completed in April, 2017. Masonry repair work will continue through June, 2017. Much of the masonry repair work focused on the building's parapet walls, which have been a historic source of water leaks.

Irving R. Newhouse Building: Leaks in this building appear to be related to needed masonry repairs. Enterprise Services is working to scope and gain repair estimates.

Prior work

Natural Resources Building: A new $3.2 million roof was installed on the Natural Resources Building in 2012.

Department of Transportation Building: One of several recommended roof repairs was completed in 2015, at a construction cost of $45,000.

Employment Services Building: A new roof costing $50,000 was installed as part of a $300,000 elevator repair project that was completed in 2015.

Construction costs

The construction costs described above reflect only the amount Enterprise Services paid to a contractor for their scope of work for each project. For most projects, construction costs represent only about 60 to 70 percent of the total costs – and don’t include associated expenditures such as:

  • Taxes
  • Permitting, design and consultant fees
  • Project management and continuous maintenance support

Leak prioritization

Leak repairs are prioritized based on a number of factors:

  • Severity and frequency of the leak.
  • Potential impact to business operations or public spaces.
  • Historic nature of the building and or materials that could be affected/damaged.