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Part 3: Plumbing Upgrade's Challenges and Additional Costs
By Dan Hounsell
March 2012 -
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Young and his department now will have to expand and replicate the template they created for plumbing-system upgrades, which he knows will not be a quick process.
"It's going to take a long time because we're doing it in-house, but there are big opportunities there," he says. "So we've created a schedule. Our challenge is that we started with 557 water closets and 108 urinals that need to be looked at. Quite a few of them are 3.5 gpf water closets and 1.5 gpf urinals. We've replaced about half of them, and we're looking at a schedule to get them all done by June 2013."
Beyond meeting that deadline to complete the work, Young also must ensure his staff has adequate time to perform their other duties, in addition to the plumbing system work.
"Our biggest challenge now is scheduling staff to do the work," he says. Beyond that issue, future projects will present an added degree of difficulty.
"Our other big challenge is that in one of our larger buildings, the (Ventura) Hall of Justice, we've got 122 of the water closets that have push-button controls on the wall," he says. "So the flush valves are behind the tiled wall. What we have to do to retrofit those is break open the tiled walls and pull the whole flush valve and repipe it so the flush valve is outside."
The estimated costs for the remaining plumbing upgrades include about $219,000 in materials and $60,000 in labor, Young says. He acknowledges that the upgrades will test the skills and abilities of in-house workers.
"Absolutely," he says. "We might have changed one or two fixtures before, but nothing on a building-wide basis." Despite a looming deadline, Young says he remains committed to using in-house staff to complete the upgrades.
"We'll try to use in-house first if we've got time available and we can work it into their schedules," he says. "We want to challenge them, and sometimes they want to do that work, too. If we can work together and get it done in a reasonable amount of time, then that's the way we'll go.
"With the Vanguard Building, we had the time. With the rest of the program, as long as we can move this project toward completion in a reasonable amount of time, then I'll use in-house staff."
Part 1: County's Successful In-house Plumbing Upgrade Delivers Savings
Part 2: Plumbing Project Outline