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Builders expect the first phase of the Catoosa County Courthouse renovation to cost $950,000, up from their original estimate of $740,000.

RINGGOLD, Ga. -- Catoosa County will spend another $90,000 on its courthouse renovation.

The Catoosa County Commission approved a change order on its construction project Tuesday morning, pushing the estimated total cost for this phase of the courthouse renovation to about $950,000. The panel originally estimated the project would cost $740,000.

"I've been somewhat disappointed in this project, the timing and everything else," commission Chairman Keith Greene said. "I know there's unforeseen things that occurred, especially with a building of this nature. You don't know what you're going to find until you get into the structure itself. The only thing I'm disappointed in is the project management. I don't know. We have to look at how we're managing this whole project."

The courthouse construction project will expand storage space for case files, add an entrance, enclose a breezeway between two parts of the courthouse and make the basement usable again.

Ross Andrews, the project's architect, said Tuesday that the latest added cost included installing a new fire alarm, putting darkened glass at one of the court's entrances and placing electronic doors in some bathrooms so they comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Andrews said the latest expenses would come for the county, sooner or later. Architects originally planned to renovate the bathrooms in the coming years for the second phase of the courthouse's renovation, which will add a second floor above Magistrate Court for offices and a new courtroom.

The county is paying for both phases with sales tax revenue.

Andrews also told the council that he believes builders will finish this first part of the courthouse renovation on Dec. 4. Three months ago, he predicted a completion date of Oct. 19, but even then he said the date was tentative. Workers couldn't renovate the building when it was rainy or, sometimes, when court was in session.

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Tuesday's meeting was the third time the commission has approved added expenses to the renovation. In January, it signed off on an extra $50,000 because builders found mold from a leaky roof. Other obstacles include an air duct workers had to take apart and put back together as they placed a beam above the 911 center, where the county is adding file storage.

In July, the commission approved another $70,000 change order so the contractor could buy more items, like a fireproof beam and handrails.

"What would you have done any differently?" Greene asked Andrews on Tuesday.

"I don't know that I would have," Andrews said. "[The changes] seem to be unforeseen."

Andrews said workers didn't know about many of the problems until they began working. In the south part of the building, for example, the contractor thought the walls were built with concrete. In fact, the original builder had used masonry.

Andrews said the walls' integrity was not as strong as it should be, and some walls were not even joined together. He said workers had to pump grout in between the walls.

"There were huge gaps," he said. "You wouldn't believe what I found."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6476.

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