Weather ups construction costs

Due to unexpectedly large snowfalls this year, contractors working on Yale construction projects are absorbing the extra weather-related costs.

Dimeo Construction, a company hired to work on the Yale University Art Gallery, West Campus and the School of Management, factored in a fixed amount of money to deal with winter conditions at each site, but it did not anticipate the size and number of snowfalls this season, said Mike Camp, the lead superintendent in charge of the art gallery renovations. He added that his company, not Yale, will “take the hit” financially, though he and two other Dimeo superintendents said construction is still on schedule.

Camp estimated that he pays $6,000 whenever it snows to buy salt and sand,hire extra labor to shovel sites clear and bring in special equipment such as Bobcat machines for moving drifts.

“You can build in the winter. It just costs more,” Camp said.

So far, projects at the Yale School of Management and on West Campus have not gone over budget. At the SOM, the budget for winter conditions is $80,000, and they have only spent $49,000 so far, said Charles Fedon, the lead superintendent for the project.

At the art gallery site, Camp said the tightness of the work space has made the weather especially problematic, because there is no place to put the snow once it is shoveled.

“We’re essentially working in a space the size of a postage stamp,” he said.

But, he added, the weather has not impeded progress. In the past weeks, he has managed the removal of snow from the roof to allow for work on skylights and insulated the building with tarps to keep heat inside while laborers fireproof and caulk the interior. A “beefed-up work staff” has also salted and sanded pathways around the site so that pedestrians and workers can walk safely.

In the past, Yale contracted Dimeo Construction to help renovate Trumbull and Calhoun colleges. Lead Superintendent John Hennessy said he remembers being affected by snowstorms then, but that this season has been worse than previous ones.

“It is much worse than the last two seasons,” Fedon agreed in an e-mail. “But it is winter.”

On West Campus, Hennessy said that the weather “had not interrupted the flow of work.” Most of the construction he oversees takes place indoors, so the only difficulty he has encountered is delays to supply deliveries.

“I’m nice and warm and toasty inside,” Hennessy said. “Nothing has been delayed more than a day or two. And a day here and there doesn’t hurt.”

The landscape architecture firm Towers Golde has seen some delays in their work on the Cogeneration Plant for heat and energy at the Yale School of Medicine, said Channing Harris, an architect for the company. At the location, landscapers stopped planting trees and putting down sod because the weather became too cold.

The art gallery is set to reopen in 2012, the new SOM school in 2013.

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