Construction workers washed tools in commodes during Wooten Hall renovations, resulting in last week’s flood

Construction workers washed tools in commodes during Wooten Hall renovations, resulting in last week’s flood

Construction workers washed tools in commodes during Wooten Hall renovations, resulting in last week’s flood
January 31
00:51 2019

Wooten Hall renovations, which were supposed to be finished by December, are now expected to be completed Feb. 8. During the project, there have been several complications including the flooding of the first and second floors this past Thursday.

“The reality is Wooten Hall has been a problematic building since I first came here over 25 years ago,” political science professor Kimi King said. “The flooding has been particularly bad in the last eight years. It was our understanding that the whole purpose of this project on the bathrooms was to ensure that flooding would stop.”

However, King said that has not been the case.

“It has continued to be a problem,” King said. “We were told that even after they had finished, it had not met code. At this point, they are way behind deadline.”

King’s office was flooded last week due to an overflowing urinal on the second floor.

According to project manager Bill Myers from Vaughn Construction, the bathroom floor drain was stopped up because of debris from the renovations. This caused the water to overflow into the hallways, flooding the carpet on the first and second floors. Myers said they will have to replace some of the carpet, but Wooten is still on track to finish in February.

“What they did was the tile workers would rinse their tools in the commodes,” Wooten Hall representative Cece Hannah said. “They were flushing that down the commode and nobody was using them for four months, so that built up in the lines. And when they opened them up last week, and we all started using them, the water couldn’t go anywhere because they were stopped up with whatever the tile workers had washed off their tools.”

Vaughn Construction has faced many complications with the building including the asbestos treatments, wiring and piping complications, flooding and bringing the building up to code.

The renovations on Wooten Hall include four egress stairwells, an exit door, new sidewalks on the north and south side, brand new LED lighting, updated finishes on the corridors with vinyl sheeting, new paint, new wood ceilings, fire dampeners and a sprinkler system.

“It’s a very intensive and evolved project,” Myers said. “I think we could’ve completed it quicker if the building had been emptied and if classes were rescheduled earlier in the summer. Really the biggest obstacle was the working hours and being able to work a day shift and having to shift to night. I think we’ve done about as well as we could with working that tough schedule.”

The project started in May 2018. In June, construction started working on asbestos treatment throughout the building. During this time, the building had to be cleared to properly treat it. From there, the construction continued in the fall semester with students and faculty occupying the building.

The project was meant to reach its substantial completion in December but failed to because of the complications with Wooten.

“It wasn’t easy, but we survived,” Hannah said. “It was frustrating at times. There probably would have been better ways to handle it if they had somewhere we could go temporarily. The dean’s office offered for us to go over there if we needed to, but when you’ve got all your stuff, you don’t want to have to pick it all up and trek to someone else’s office. We think it looks very nice now.”

The budget for this project was $4.76 million and the project is currently within budget according to the project manager.

“It is up to management of facilities to have the will and the way to see to it this entire project gets done,” King said. “This is not about my office flooding, this is about renovating Wooten Hall and making sure that we get our money’s worth in the renovation. So far, we’re not getting our money out of the bathrooms. Let’s just hope the fire alarm system and the sprinkler system they installed are up to code.”

The building was constructed in the 1970s when life-safety regulations didn’t require a fire suppression system. The purpose of this project was to bring the building up to code.

Myers said UNT hopes to continue updating and improving Wooten in the future.

“At the end of the day, there’s now a sprinkler system in the building,” Myers said. “If there’s ever a fire, it will be contained and effectively save lives. It’s a building that when it was built 40 years ago, if a fire happened, the best you would have is a fire extinguisher. Now, if a fire does happen to break out, the building is completely protected and so are the students and faculty that are going to be in the building from here on out.”

Featured Image:Flooding on the second floor of Wooten Hall. Image Courtesy Cece Hannah.

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Rebekah Schulte

Rebekah Schulte

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1 Comment

  1. RBG
    RBG January 31, 21:23

    The best way to “update and improve” Wooten Hall would be to bulldoze it and start over. The contractor responsible for the tile workers washing tools in the toilets should have to pay for the cleanup of the flooded areas and repairs to the plumbing.

    Reply to this comment

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