The Whactom County Courthouse is undergoing some major improvements as crews work to fix the “water intrusion” issue that has plagued the building for decades.

‘Water intrusion’ has been an issue since 1990s expansion project

BELLINGHAM ­— The Whatcom County Courthouse is receiving exterior  repair of a problem going back to a major expansion project in the early 1990s.

County Executive Jack Louws identifies the issue as “water intrusion” that in some places is causing exterior insulation to separate from the building as well as other signs of damage.

Dawson Construction LLC was awarded a $5.4 million contract to do the work and is now busy at it with scaffolding up around one side of the six-story building.

“We are fixing and upgrading roofs and sill caps, repairing and sealing the exterior walls including the brick and EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System), and replacing many windows that have broken seals,” Louws said in an email.

Project completion is expected in November.

Beside Dawson’s work, however, the full project budget includes research, design, project management, contingencies and other miscellaneous costs totaling to more than $7 million.

“I’m pleased to get this project done this year,” Louws said. “It has been a long-standing issue for many years. It will take the commitment of future administrations and councils to adequately fund a scheduled maintenance program for the exterior of this building to keep it in good repair.”

An original squarish County Courthouse goes back to the 1930s. One addition happened in the 1970s. The building was practically doubled in size with an east-side expansion and addition of a rotunda entrance in 1991-92. The exterior look is red and white stone, with blue-tinted windows.