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Apr 22, 2014 2:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

In Bridgehampton, Rogers House Work Is Back On Track After Missteps And Mold

Apr 22, 2014 4:25 PM

The multimillion-dollar renovation of the 19th century Nathaniel Rogers House in Bridgehampton has resumed work under a new contractor after missteps by the old project managers led to mold behind the mansion’s delicate plaster walls, causing months of delays while it was remediated.

Representatives of Southampton Town and the Bridgehampton Historical Society, which are jointly funding the renovation work, acknowledged this spring that there had been problems last year with mold because the building had not been properly sealed against weather by the previous contractor. The waterproof coverings over the building’s roof and windows had been loosened by winds from Hurricane Irene in 2011, and water from the heavy rainfall in a series of storms later that fall seeped into the building, which was not under construction at the time.

After the discovery of the mold, the contractor, Apple Restoration & Waterproofing Inc., brought in a mold remediation firm to remove it. The removal, a complicated undertaking because of the building’s plaster walls, delayed the start of work on other parts of the renovation by several months. But it did not cost the town or historical society any additional money, officials said.

“We realized they were not securing the building and keeping it watertight, and when we went inside we found that there had been mold growing because of the water that came in,” town Community Preservation Fund Manager Mary Wilson said. “It slowed us down while they did the remediation, but since the contractor was responsible, they had to pay for it.”

Last summer, Apple was dropped as the project contractor, largely because the company had been unable to come up with a suitable plan for restoring the building’s historic stone foundation. A call to Apple Restoration seeking comment was not returned.

In January, the town contracted with RA Consultants, a foundation company that had been a subcontractor to Apple, to complete the foundation underpinning work.

Architect Kurt Hirschberg, whose firm, Jan Hird Pokorny Architects, is overseeing the renovation work, said that the complicated mold remediation work will not have a substantial effect on the historic elements of the house. He said a 4-foot strip of plaster molding from one of the interior walls was damaged by the mold remediation effort and had to be removed.

“We worked with several mold remediation firms, and we saved the portions of the plaster that were in [good] condition and were slated to remain,” Mr. Hirschberg said recently. “Ninety-nine percent of what we were attempting to save can still be saved. We only lost a 4-foot section.”

The rest of the walls remained intact, except for pinholes drilled in them through which an ethanol solution was pumped to remove the mold from behind. Mr. Hirschberg said the holes will be filled with plaster and will be unnoticeable when the renovation is done.

In all, about half of the plaster walls in the house, six rooms worth, were in a condition that made them restorable. The rest were too badly deteriorated at the outset of the project to be salvaged. Those walls will be replastered to closely match the original.

Historic preservationist Robert Strada, who had bid on the contract to oversee the renovation work, said that the work that has been done has altered historic features of the building’s interior. In a recent conversation, he and renovation partner Dick Baxter said that Mr. Hirschberg’s firm had altered the third floor in repairing the floor joists. Mr. Baxter said his examination of the building during the bidding process led him to believe the joists did not need to be replaced.

Mr. Hirschberg acknowledged that the joists had been replaced. He said the old joists had not been sufficient to support the flooring on the third story, which had sagged 9 inches from edge to center. He said the original joists were saved but had to be bolstered by a new support frame, which led to a 3.5-inch height change in the flooring and, thusly, between the floors and window sills.

“The third floor was originally an unusable attic,” Mr. Hirschberg said. “When the house was an inn, they had raised the roof and converted the attic to small bedrooms. But they never did any supplemental framing and ... the floor had sagged.”

Nathaniel Rogers had remodeled the 1824 house in 1840, and it was transformed into an inn at around the turn of that century. Far more recently, it was purchased by the Bridgehampton Historical Society and donated to the town with the goal of making it a headquarters for the historical society, as well as a public resource for the community.

Despite the missteps and the ultimate need for a new contractor, the historical society’s president, John Eilertsen, said the organization was happy with much of the work Apple had done in preparing the building for the renovation work, a task that included intricate removal of hundreds of pieces of flooring, window sashes and trim from the interior. Each piece was labeled and cataloged and put into secure storage, so that it can be replaced in the building when the interior work begins.

Mr. Eilertsen said that the historical society is happy that the work has re-started.

“The exciting news,” he said, “is that we’re under contract and working again.”

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Maybe the lesson learned should be.... the lowest bid is not always the best bid.
glad at least the project is moving forward to completion.
By tito (56), e hampton on Apr 26, 14 9:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
Tha hurricane is the excuse for the windows leaking? That's funny stuff.
By chief1 (2718), southampton on Apr 27, 14 12:08 PM