Historic status could decrease $20,00 in Watson House repairs

mhankerson@newsobserver.comMarch 4, 2014 

MECHELLE HANKERSON — mhankerson@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • The Cost of History

    Here are Oakley-Collier’s estimates for some of the most expensive projects the company identified would need to be done at the Watson House:

    1. Outfit the home with a plumbing system: $40,000

    Franki Joyner, who presented the estimate, said there probably was a plumbing system in place at some point but right now, the home doesn’t have a toilet and will need new plumbing.

    2. Install new electrical system: $20,000

    According to Oakley-Collier’s report, the current electrical system is not up to state building code or National Electric Code. The report said it is probable that the current system would not support the home’s electricity use, but that would have to be determined at a later point, during renovations.

    3. Raise the structure, new insulation, reframe porches: $20,000

    Joyner told Council this cost was optional, although the report suggests doing this structural work to bring it up to code. As a historical structure, there are certain requirements the Watson House does not need to fulfill.

    4. Fix roofing: $10,000

    Oakley-Collier’s report said the current shingles on the Watson House are not the original shingles. It said there is no evidence of severe flooding, although there are some questionable spots around the chimney, in the attic and upstairs.

    5. Painting interior and exterior: $8,500

    The report did not have a separate section to identify problems with the paint on the home, but there are suggestions to look for environmental problems, like mold and asbestos within walls and floors.

— Town leaders are considering the cost of rehabilitating the Watson House at 700 N. First Ave. in the historic part of Knightdale to make the property into a public space.

The house, which was part of the land acquisition that became Knightdale Station Park, has been untouched for two years until December, when the town paid $3,000 for Rocky Mount-based architecture firm Oakley-Collier to assess the property.

At the last Town Council meeting, Oakley-Collier came with an estimate for repairs to bring the house up to code for public use: $226,462.

“What I’ve tried to give you is a worst-case scenario for bringing this property up to speed,” Oakley-Collier architect Franki Joyner told the Council.

The report suggested the town hire an exterminator to assess termite damage and bring in professionals to check for asbestos and mold.

Structurally, the firm said the house was mostly OK, although they suggested raising the entire structure, a $20,000 project. That project, however, would not be required.

Luckily for the town, Joyner told the Council, there are certain things that can be left alone because of the house’s status as a historical structure.

Some things, like accesibility standards according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, don’t have to be in place in the house for it to be up to code because of its age. Oakley-Collier did include some of those cost projections in their report, though, since the house would eventually be used for the public and accesiblity for all residents would be important.

The firm included all estimates but Joyner said they can remove those from the final number if the town wants to.

Town Council decided to hold off of any major decision on the property until Mayor Pro Tem Mike Chalk was present. He wasn’t able to come to the Feb. 19 meeting.

Mayor Russell Killen suggested the town move forward with asbestos testing as soon as possible though.

“(I think that might be) the deciding factor,” Killen said.

Right now, the town doesn’t have a plan for the house once it is up to code. A lot of that decision depended on its condition.

“We really don’t have a good idea of what we’re going to do with this property,” Town Manager Seth Lawless said.

In 2011, when the town first acquired the home, the decision of what to do with the house was left to the Old Town Oversight Committee. Former owner and former Knightdale Mayor Billy Wilder suggested the idea of a museum that doubled as a place to hold small events, but the committee didn’t take any steps to assign a purpose to the building.


Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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