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Schools: Roof design delays Coastal Montessori building

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Construction of the Coastal Montessori Charter School is almost two months behind schedule because its roof design didn’t meet Georgetown County’s design code. Work had already started on the project last fall when the error was found, said Steve Goggans, whose firm SGA Architecture designed and is managing the project.

“We didn’t find out about it until we were well under construction,” he said. The roof trusses had to be reordered.

Goggans helped create the design standards and chaired the board that reviewed appeals from property owners before he was elected to Georgetown County Council in 2014. While he acknowledged the mistake was embarrassing, Goggans believes that the contractor will be able to make up the lost time. “I’m still optimistic,” he said.

The design code calls for a 6/12 roof pitch. The school was originally designed that way, but the roof was changed to a 4/12 pitch after a review of the cost, Goggans said. If Georgetown County had reviewed the building permit for the school, the difference would have been spotted right away. But school buildings don’t need local approval. Their permits are issued by the state Office of School Facilities.

“OSF signed off so we assumed it was OK,” Goggans said.

The county spotted the roof issue in October or November, said Joanne Ochal, the county zoning administrator. “It didn’t meet 6/12 on the majority of the roof,” she said.

The school could have sought a variance to the code. “As one who helped write those guidelines, I didn’t want to do that,” Goggans said.

The school’s contract with FBi Construction calls for the building to be completed in early August, just before the start of the new school year. Coastal Montessori opened in 2013 in a vacant wing of Waccamaw Middle School, and Georgetown County School Superintendent Randy Dozier has said it can stay there until it is ready to move.

FBi “is beginning to recover some of the down time he had,” Goggans said. “It’s going to be a little dicey relative to the opening of school.”

The school has a wood frame construction rather than masonry walls, so work is moving quicker now that the roof trusses are in place.

Coastal Montessori will hold a “topping ceremony” next week. It takes the place of the groundbreaking that it passed up in order to get the work moving.

The ceremony will follow a Scandinavian tradition of raising a tree to the top of the structure “to pay tribute to Mother Earth and her contributions to the project,” according to the school.

It will be held April 8 at 4 p.m. at 111 Old Plantation Dr. It will include a building tour.

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