In last week’s update, we shared with you several unexpected complications from the DeKalb Fire Marshall. Last Friday, after the weekly update had gone to press, the Fire Marshall and Building Inspector met with Choate onsite at our new campus for a complete walk-through. The full list of changes that Choate will make to appease DeKalb county follows:
  • The sanctuary ceiling stage right will be changed from ACT Grid to Sheetrock.
  • According to the fire marshall, the winch in the sanctuary for the Moravian star must have a smaller access hole. Choate proposed making a metal plate with a hole and rubber washer to enclose the gap as much as possible. Inspectors approved the Choate proposal.
  • Choate proposed a demising sheetrock wall in the attic of the sanctuary stage left so that we can keep the ACT grid ceiling over the A/V areas. The inspectors approved the Choate proposal and advised that all the conduit penetrations must be fire-caulked.
  • Choate will confirm and document that all access panels are either metal or rated for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Choate must apply an intumescent coating to the spray foam insulation throughout the education and admin wing. The inspectors agreed that ECS, UUCAs third-party inspector, can verify the levels of the intumescent thickness to comply with tested data.
  • Choate will seal up and patch the perimeter wall with sheetrock mud and fire caulk all electrical penetrations.
  • The mechanical room on the second floor must have a hard ceiling. Choate will change to 5/8″ rock type X per the inspector’s request. Additionally, Choate to patch floor openings in the 2nd-floor mechanical room to provide a 1-hr rating.
  • The stairwell framing must not be a suspended type of framing. Choate to provide a 3-5/8″ stud to hold up the core board.
  • Stair B off the social hall must have a rated ceiling at both levels. The underside of stair B must be protected with either rated walls or intumescent paint. The stairwell metal framing cannot be left unprotected in either kitchen storage or the kitchen.
As mentioned previously, the level of requirements, especially in spaces well covered with fire sprinkler suppression, has caught everyone by surprise. We’ve since heard that fire marshalls across the metro area, including Fulton, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties, have become much more stringent in their code interpretation and are erring on the side of overdoing it. We appreciate the eye for detail and safety, but this comes at increased costs and will undoubtedly delay our opening.
We anticipate that Choate will pick up a sizeable amount of the financial costs to bring the project up to the fire marshall requirements, but we also anticipate seeing change orders on the UUCA side. Since August, the critical path, which is the longest possible time the project would take, has remained on track to deliver the project turnover on May 18th, 2022, with punch list completion on June 1st. This week, due to all the items above, we saw the project turnover date shift to June 10th and punch list completion on June 24th, a delay of slightly over three weeks.
The primary reason for the delay is the required work for the sanctuary ceiling. By this point in the project, we anticipated the hard ceilings in the sanctuary to be installed. Now that we finally have guidance on what must be done to advance the project, the required fireproofing can proceed, followed by an inspection. Once those steps are complete, the contractor can install the sheetrock overhead. The ceiling itself requires a level five finish, the highest possible quality. This finishing itself will need time to achieve due to how large the room is and the complexity of the design. Once the level 5 finish is achieved, the wood-look film will be applied, which is also a time-consuming project. All of this ceiling work must be complete before the stage can be constructed at the floor level.
For context, the critical path was in danger last month due to a delay in getting the fabricated power distribution panel components from Mexico. Choate was able to adjust the schedule to keep crews busy in other areas, and then after a delay, the parts shipped. That supply chain issue endangered the timeline, but we never had to adjust it as the delivery occurred just in the nick of time. The timeline is always a “best guess” using all the available data present at the time. The critical path shifted to the sanctuary ceiling based on the detailed descriptions above. Choate will be working hard to do everything they can to reduce this path, but we are now planning for a three-week delay.
While this update has been mostly filled with details regarding the completion delay, lots of exciting things are happening in other areas of the project. The new energy-star-rated windows for the sanctuary are now on site. The protective clear glass to protect the stained glass has arrived and is ready to be installed. The painters are inside the building, and the gorgeous color pallet is starting to reveal itself. The electric car charging stations are on order and will arrive soon, and we are only days away from switching to permanent power. We expect the elevator to be working within the month, the new parking lot to be paved, and so much more to take shape. We will use any delay in project completion by the contractor to plan and prepare for our move and opening weeks.
Stay tuned to the Weekly Update and the Project Phoenix blog on the UUCA website for developing details each week.