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Builders struggle with high oil cost

If the price of oil is pinching commuters, it could strangle builders.Last week, the Roaring Fork School District board of education accepted a schematic for Basalt Middle School. The school district originally budgeted $263,875 to fix the building’s leaky roof. When Aspen-based architects from Reno-Smith looked at the building, however, they said it would cost twice that – $500,000 – to fix the roof. Part of the problem at BMS is that water damage to the roof is more severe than planners thought. The damage is so severe that the best solution may be to replace the roof, not patch it. Another problem is that the cost of oil-based roofing materials – which both BMS and Carbondale Middle School use, and need replacing – has skyrocketed. The prices of oil-based roofing materials such as felt, tar, rubber, asphalt and shingles have increased 25 percent since September, said Walt Stow, president of Glenwood Springs-based Ace Roofing. And the price could go even higher by the time construction starts in the Roaring Fork School District. One manufacturer warned Jim Hayes, manager of the Fowler & Peth roofing company branch in Rifle, to expect a 10 percent price increase on July 1. The solution to cost problems is to look at alternative materials, Stowe said. The problem with that, particularly in the case of insulation, is that the materials cost less but also function more poorly so more material is needed, he said. Stowe is not directly involved with the school district’s current projects but has worked on the BMS and CMS roofs in the past. Those buildings use a board-type insulation covered with a urethane spray. The insulation works well as long as it is maintained and kept dry, he said.With the possibility of BMS going $250,000 over budget and the estimates for replacing CMS’s roof still to come, the district could find itself having to foot the bill itself, and not relying on bond dollars, or doing only part of the work needed, or taking amenities from other parts of the building, said superintendent Fred Wall. The district may also be able to save $571,355 worth of bond dollars by not demolishing Carbondale Elementary School. Though the demolition is planned and budgeted for, the town of Carbondale and the district may work together to save and use the building. But the district is far from any decisions and is still waiting for bid and real prices to come in, he said.


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