Building department is overextended

There will be a lot of work going on in Wilton this summer, and that might put unsustainable pressure on the Building Department.

This was brought up at recent meetings of the Board of Selectmen and the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee.

At the selectmen’s meeting, on Feb. 1, Building Official Bob Root said the three major projects slated for this year’s sunny season will have a “significant” impact on his department.

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, talking about the Miller-Driscoll School site, said, “Bob, you have somebody there every day?”

Root replied, “Yes — twice a day today, and probably twice a day for the next three years.”

“One of my inspectors was there this morning at 7, to do some of the footings, and then he was there again at 12, because they had more work done, because they’re planning to pour [concrete] every day at 12 o’clock. [The contractors are] working six days a week there.

“Once [the contractors] get the foundations in, then we’re there on a daily basis for an hour or two hours just doing all of the underground plumbing and electric.

“That’s in addition to all our other major projects,” Root said.

“We have three major projects coming out of the ground at the same time — 30 units at Old Danbury Road, 23 units at Wilton Commons, and then, of course, Miller-Driscoll. And then in the spring, it will probably be the parking garage at ASML,” he said.

“So we’re trying to balance our time. Some of us will be starting work at 6:30 or 7 in the morning, because all the contractors work early.”

“Then, in the summer,” Root continued, “[the contractors are] working seven days a week at Miller-Driscoll, and they’re probably going to be getting, on their own, another inspector to come in and do that, and that goes through their budget. We’ve already spoken to them about that, because there’s no way two of us can work seven days a week. There just isn’t money or time.”

At the March 3 meeting of the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee, Miller-Driscoll project manager Mike Douyard of Turner Construction confirmed he’d been in discussions with Root and said he thought that hiring an outside inspector would be “something that we would have to do.”

“There are three major projects, including ours, that are going in town this summer,” Douyard said, “and the building inspector would not be able to be there for immediate inspections.”

“[Root] suggested that we hire an outside building inspector with all of the [necessary] credentials, that can accommodate the speeds of the schedule that we’re going to have,” Douyard said.

“As we get closer to [summer], probably in April or May, we’ll start talking about what that looks like for us, and where it would fall in our budget.”

“I think it’s something that we would have to do,” he said.

At that meeting, Vanderslice, an ex-officio member of the building committee, said, “The building inspector told me that it’s approximately the equivalent of one full-time employee, to address all the inspecting needs of this project.”

For the upcoming fiscal year, the Building Department requested double the dollar amount it did last fiscal year to cover overtime salaries — $8,000 versus $4,000.

The department’s fiscal year 2017 budget request explains that “an increase is required for the upcoming year due to the large school projects that will require early inspections outside of the standard work day for the assistant building official.”