Beaufort County Courthouse renovations finally finished after delay

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comMarch 19, 2014 

Jacob Anderson paints an exterior wall between the jail and the courthouse at the Beaufort County Courthouse complex March 19, 2014. Exterior renovations to the County Courthouse are several weeks behind schedule but nearly complete, county officials say. The $14-million project began in August 2012 and has included interior and exterior renovations to repair and eliminate water damage discovered shortly after the courthouse opened almost 30 years ago.

JAY KARR — Staff photo Buy Photo

Major renovations to the Beaufort County Courthouse are finally finished, albeit two months later than expected, according to county officials.

"There are a few little ... items to be completed ... but overall the job is done," county spokeswoman Joy Nelson said.

The project was to be completed by the end of December, but a rainy year put Bluffton-based contractor Fraser Construction behind schedule, county engineering director Rob McFee has said.

Despite delays, the project stayed within budget, Nelson said.

The $14 million project began in August 2012 and included replacing the stucco facade with brick and renovating the lobby.

Contractors also enclosed part of the building's covered walkway and several patios to create 8,800 square feet of new space. Offices and courtrooms got new ceiling tiles and carpet.

Contractors discovered extensive water damage, which took more time than expected to repair, Nelson added. Water damage was first discovered inside walls soon after the courthouse opened about 30 years ago. Five years ago, the county received nearly $7 million in a legal settlement from the original contractors because of faulty construction.

About $5.5 million from that settlement was used to pay for the renovations. The county also used $5 million originally budgeted to build the St. Helena Island library; that money was no longer needed for the library after state and federal grants were awarded for its construction.

The rest of the money for the courthouse renovation was borrowed.

In fall, County Council authorized $100,000 for technology upgrades for several courtrooms.

New monitors, microphones, media presenters and speakers will be installed in courtrooms 1 and 3, Nelson said. Two Family Court courtrooms and Probate Court will also get new amplifiers and speakers.

Those improvements are underway, Nelson said. It is not clear when they will be completed.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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