With major structural renovation on the north tower of Francisco Torres Residential Hall complete and the majority of internal work finished, the building is nearly habitable.

UCSB reported yesterday that the last of 13 construction contracts for renovation work on FT was awarded to Anderson Burton Construction Inc. of Arroyo Grande. All 13 contracts include renovation of both towers as part of the deal. Soltek Pacific is the company that manages the project for UCSB. Before all of the contracts were awarded, the university estimated the renovations would cost about $18 million, said Jim Pinard, construction manager for UCSB at Soltek Pacific.

“We are within 1 percent of the budget, and on an $18 million project, that was fantastic,” he said.

Pinard said 95 percent of the structural work on the north tower is complete, 75 percent of the internal wiring and plumbing is done, and the painting of the interior just started. UCSB Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs George Pernsteiner said the project is progressing well.

“So far, we’re in good shape in terms of budget and schedule,” he said.

All of the renovations on the north tower should be completed in March, Pinard said. Students living in the south tower will then move into the newly retrofitted north tower, and construction crews will begin work on the south tower.

“It will be done in time for the fall,” Pernsteiner said.

Improvements to the two towers include seismic corrections, new fire sprinklers and alarms, new carpeting, replacing the sheet rock and drywall in the building, new bathrooms and removal of asbestos in place from when the building was constructed in the 1970s.

Pinard said the recent earthquake in Paso Robles did not affect the two towers, and a structural engineer who reviewed the buildings Wednesday said there were no problems.