Issues delay opening of Rock Haven
JANESVILLE The new Rock Haven county nursing home is behind schedule and over budget because of a combination of factors—controllable and uncontrollable—county officials said.
In the last two months, the Rock County Board has approved an additional $317,903 for the $25.7 million project. The additional money is a 1.23 percent increase from the original amount and comes after the county spent all of the project's $1.29 million contingency fund.
The good news is the additional money won't require any new tax dollars.
The bad news is the project's "substantial completion date" moved four months—from Sept. 30 to Jan. 31.
Building a nursing home involves an architect, builders, engineers, inspectors, inspectors and more inspectors.
When asked why construction was delayed, Rock County Nursing Home Director Sherry Gunderson described it as "a combination of things."
Plans are developed and submitted to a state engineer, who reviews the plan and gives a conditional go ahead, Gunderson explained.
"At intervals, the state comes and inspects the building and identifies concerns," Gunderson said. "They're usually life safety and code issues."
Local fire inspectors also go through the building at intervals.
"Some of the various costs we've had to incur are related back to the interpretation of the state inspector of codes," Gunderson said.
Gunderson stressed the "intent is good" behind the inspections. State and local inspectors want the residents and staff to be as safe as possible.
"It can be discouraging when those kinds of things add costs," she said.
Those items also can cause significant delay.
For example, exits from mechanical rooms in the mezzanine areas of each of the four "households" featured standard entrances and pull-down, attic-ladder-type exits.
Randy Terronez, assistant to the county administrator, said the state required a different, more formal exit from the mezzanine—even though the areas would not ever be used for offices.
Claire Smith, a spokeswoman for the state department of quality assurance, said some of the items in the initial plan review were listed as "non-compliant" and "continued to be a non-compliant issue during construction."
The mezzanine exits were one of those issues, Smith said in an e-mail.
Either way, the redesign and addition have cost $159,658 to date and resulted in delay of almost two months.
Soil testing and transfer was another unexpected cost.
Gunderson said it was difficult for builders to predict how much soil might need to be removed or replaced because the facility is so spread out—it takes up more than 20 acres.
The increase to the soils section of the contingency fund was $107,000.
Money for the changes will come from the nursing homes "net assets," Gunderson said.
Like other county departments, Rock Haven has an annual budget that is approved by the board. If the nursing home has a better year than expected, any additional revenue can be placed in the "net assets" account. The account can be used to cover the costs of items such as new beds or used to cover costs during an off year.