Renovation on state housing project slowed by construction problems

(Via KHON)

A state owned high-rise has been empty for close to two years and it could be at least another year before renovations are finished.

People that live in the neighborhood contacted us via our Report It feature on our website to ask what was going on.

We found out residents were relocated free of charge by the state in early 2015 so that the 28-unit building at 2907 Ala Ilima Street could undergo renovations. But after about a year of construction, the project was put on hold.

Now it’s been 10 months since construction crews have been able to work on the building.

For close to a year, the project was moving forward as scheduled, but that’s when construction crews started to run into problems.

Hakim Ouansafi of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority said that “When we started this project towards the end of 2014, we started going full speed ahead. A lot of progress has been done, as you see, and then all of a sudden, as we tested the pressure of the water, challenge number one, there is not adequate pressure.”

After testing the water pressure in the building and ripping out the drywall, crews found that the pipes running through the entire building weren’t up to code — not only that, further inspection showed issues with mold in some units.

“Any old building, you really don’t know what’s going on until you open those walls,” said Ouansafi. “This one was specifically challenging because it triggered a lot of additional design that is needed.”

The laundry list of issues facing the building prompted the state to go back to the drawing board, turning the building into a complete remodel, which the state says will extend the property’s life by another 35 years.

“I think a lot of people don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes,” Ouansafi said. “Number one priority is to make sure whatever we build is safe to the residence that’s going to be there, so we’re not going to ignore safety issues. Unfortunately, that will cost us more money, and it does cost us more time to make sure that whatever we put there is according to all the codes.”

The state said the final price tag of the remodel will come in at $5.7 million. Construction should start up by the end of the year, and according to the state, will take 10 to 12 months to finish.

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