Friday, November 07, 2008

Pay Here

Spring soon became summer and despite the well meaning efforts of the QC team, we were making progress. The basement walls were framed and drywall was applied. Taping and painting followed and since the basement was always at a uniform temperature, we decided to keep our tools down there. We would all meet there early in the morning and enjoy a cup of coffee before opening the 'gang' boxes and beginning work at 7.

One morning, as I was about to go down the stairs, I noticed that the lights were out and it was pitch black in the basement. I hunted around on the first floor for the temporary power box that fed the basement and found it connected and it appeared to be on. I assumed that a circuit breaker must have failed so I grabbed a flashlight and went down the stairs. Oops! My flashlight revealed that the basement was filling with water! The water was easily 5 foot deep and climbing.

The construction management team found the problem at about the same time and quickly disconnected all the power to the basement. Pretty soon there were half a dozen pumps in action as they tried to drain the basement. This took most of the day and that night and it wasn't until the next day that we could go back down and see what damage had been done.

As I had written earlier, this building sat directly in the path of a underground river and a very large and powerful sump pump had been installed to keep the basement dry. This pump had been placed on a 'dedicated' circuit so that it would never be without power. 'Never' is a funny word. Not to be trusted!

With the pump in operation again and an army of laborers mopping and vacuuming, it was time to assess the damage. And there was plenty. The walls had been painted and since they had also been insulated, the insulation had become wet and soggy. We had to open up all the walls and remove tons of wet fiberglass. Along with tons of soggy drywall.

Of course we were paid for the damage, as were all of the other trades that had been affected by the power outage. And it was quite a bill!

Something to remember; the power company paid us. After all, it was their building and it was their circuit that had failed. But they simply passed these costs on to the rate payers. Their customers. So this decision to build in the middle of an underground river was already costing the customers of Sierra Pacific and would continue to do so as the building continued.

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