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The first concrete footings have been poured and most of the bids for work developing the new community and senior center facilities have been awarded, according to Public Building & Site Commission (PBSC) Chairman Robert Mitchell.
During a commission meeting December 19, Mr Mitchell and the panel learned that several bids came in over the anticipated amount budgeted and as a result, the architects and low bidders will be meeting to determine whether any value engineering can bring those specific costs in line with the project’s budget.
Value engineering can be defined as an organized effort directed at analyzing designed building features, systems, equipment, and material selections for the purpose of achieving essential functions at the lowest life cycle cost consistent with required performance, quality, reliability, and safety, as defined by the US General Services Administration.
“Some bids came in high and some bids came in low,” Mr Mitchell told The Newtown Bee. “The main concern is the major mechanical, electrical, and plumbing bids came in higher than we expected, so we’re dealing directly with the low bidder, since there were a couple of really expensive items that were included, which are more nice to have than need to have, so we’ll end up meeting the same functional requirements, just getting there in a different way.”
For example, Mr Mitchell said one of the bids for the main entrance to the community center included a very expensive glass door and entryway materials. But he said there are numerous other options for design and materials available that can save in excess of $20,000 and help bring in that component of the project at or below its original budget.
“Another example is we have a bid for stainless steel spiral duct work in the pool area, which is a wonderful way to go, but our project budget just can’t afford it,” he said. “So we’re going to an alternative, which is coated aluminum, which will save us almost $450,000. There are a few big ones like that, along with a bunch of little ones. We’re also going to explore alternative types of tiling. It’s all about sitting down with the low bidder and working out functional equivalents. We’re not cutting out rooms or making any rooms smaller, we’re just taking certain elements and bringing them more in line with our budget.”
Ultimately, the end goal is to bring the project in under budget and to maintain around $1 million in contingency.
“Right now we’ve got around $900,000 in contingency, and we’d like to end up with that being a little bit higher,” Mr Mitchell said. “Virtually all bids have been awarded except the ones we have pushed off to refine those over budget material numbers. We know the low bidder, we just haven’t awarded those few bids yet.”
High School Leak
It has taken nearly six years, but the PBSC on December 19 finally closed out the Newtown High School addition project. Although the addition was opened for occupancy in 2011, a troublesome leak in the area of the rear cafetorium had prevented officials from declaring that overall project closed.
Now, some $350,000 later, Mr Mitchell said that protracted repairs that involved completely rebuilding part of the exterior wall and roof are complete and have been tested and proven to be weather tight after both rain and recent snow events.
“We can finally declare that entire project through and complete, although there was a lot of discussion at our meeting about why the town was left to cover the added costs instead of the contractor,” Mr Mitchell said. “But we have now handed it off to the first selectman’s office and the town attorney for consideration. I think there is hope to recover some of the expense from the construction manager’s performance bond.”
He said town officials need to confirm that the expense to go after that will not cost more than might be recovered.
Another Award For Sandy Hook School
The Sandy Hook Elementary School building project continues to draw the attention and accolades of the school building industry, Mr Mitchell said.
The Engineering News Record’s (ENR) New England division recently designated Sandy Hook School as its top building project for 2016 in the K-12 Education category.
Mr Mitchell was on hand for a ceremonial breakfast in Boston, December 12, during which the award was announced.
“The judges not only evaluated the building and the process, but the quality of the finished project as a successful educational environment,” he said. “It was very interested to learn how the judges evaluated different buildings, and they hold off a year on announcing the winner to ensure the occupied project is functioning successfully for the occupants.”
A report in the publication quoted one project judge as saying, “They did a really good job including all these stakeholders and parents and still managed to deliver a product on schedule.”
Judges took note that the 20-month, $48.8 million project fast-tracked, at-risk project was completed for the 2016-17 school year, and came in $1.2 million under budget.
Another judge said he graded the project on its “merits as a construction process… They did a great job. It’s a beautiful project.” The same judge added, “I loved that the design had the [classroom] wings coming out like they were arms wrapping themselves around the students as they enter.”