School board hears construction report
With most of the contractors now chosen through bidding, construction costs are estimated to be around $62.37 million, district business director Doug Bunton reported to the school board Tuesday night.
That’s higher than the pre-bid estimate, but Bunton said it’s a manageable difference.
The total project cost is the $70.8 million approved by voters in the 2006 referendum. The total includes non-construction costs such as furnishings, asbestos removal and fees for design, bid documents, blueprints and state fees.
The major items that came in at higher-than-expected costs were electrical work, stormwater management and windows, Bunton said. Some of those were re-bid.
The latest estimate leaves the project with a contingency fund of $1.72 million. The contingency fund would pay unforeseen expenses.
The architect had recommended a contingency fund of $1.65 million to $1.8 million, based on experience with previous projects, Bunton said.
About 20 percent of asbestos removal is complete. Asbestos is one of the “wild cards” that could involve using some of the contingency fund, Bunton said.
In a search for savings and in cooperation with contractors, Bunton approved some cutbacks. For example, windows that would have illuminated stairwells on the north side of Craig were eliminated, and the roof above the north-side addition was lowered.
Bunton said those and other cost-saving changes wouldn’t be noticed, but he didn’t think more savings could be found without reducing the quality of finishes or reducing square footage.
Other highlights in Bunton’s construction progress report:
-- J.P. Cullen & Sons was awarded $15.56 million worth of bids for concrete work, masonry, demolition, structure erection and carpentry. Cullen did not win every contract it bid on, however. As general contractor, J.P. Cullen also receives about 1.9 percent of the construction cost.
The bidding process included a requirement that J.P. Cullen submit its bids a day ahead of the other bidders. The requirement was to remove suspicion that Cullen got an advance look at bids before submitting its own.
-- The district received 280 bids on various aspects of the project. Other major bid winners were Rock Road Companies of Janesville, site construction, $3.06 million; Hooper Corp., plumbing, $1.99 million; McGrath Electric of Janesville for electrical work at Craig, $3.32 million; Rewald Electric of La Crosse, electrical at Parker, $4.22 million.
-- The HVAC work was not sent out for competitive bidding, but the district considered several proposals before selecting North American Mechanical of DeForest, at a cost of $14.6 million, Bunton said. North American has consulted on the project since before the referendum.
-- North American is applying for grants that are awarded for buying energy-efficient equipment. Bunton said at least $100,000 in grants is expected.
Some of the contractors are union shops. Some are not. Board member Kevin Murray said he had gotten calls from local union members asking whether, in a union town, the school board should give some consideration to union contractors, if all other factors are equal.
Bunton said the board’s policies do not address that question, although policies do require the district to choose the lowest responsible bidder and to buy locally when savings and quality are equal or better locally.
School board members were invited to tour the constructions sites, either on Wednesday, Dec. 12, or Monday, Dec. 17.