Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — The Marshall County Board of Health plans to award contracts for a $2.08 million remediation of the new Health Department building Friday.
The new building requires the upgrades as it has not been certified as fit for occupancy. It does not meet Kentucky seismic code requirements and is non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act.
Dennis Smith, construction manager from Pinnacle Construction, said the repairs would require workers to remove up to eight walls of the building and the building’s roof. Bids were open April 16 from contractors in the fields of paving, contracting and general trades, masonry, roofing, door framing and hardware, gypsum board and ceilings, flooring, painting, fire protection plumbing, inspection, electricians and heating and air conditioning.
The number of contracts awarded totaled $1.89 million for construction. By the Department of Education emergency rule used for the project, the construction management’s fee will push the total price of the rebuild to $2.08 million. Smith recommended an extra 10 percent of that amount as a contingency.
Judge-Executive Mike Miller said he was not surprised by the amount and expected the project to cost between $1.7 and $2 million.
“We need the contingency because we are taking out eight sections of perimeter wall, removing the roof, and going into the slab. We will be going through electrical wiring, plumbing, voice and data cables, duct work and floor coverings,” Smith said. “When we remove the roof, we will be lining up and supporting the second floor and holding up the roof trusses. We may have to remove an air handling unit.”
With the roof contract, Smith said the bid mandated roofers only remove and replace what could be returned to the roof within a day’s time. This will reduce the building’s exposure to the elements and curtail possible damage. He added steps will also be taken to provide temporary environmental control inside the building to prevent dampness and mold growth.
“For budgetary purposes, we’re anticipating the eight openings will take 48 weeks, and the roof will take four,” Smith said. “We may be able to stair-step on the different openings and do that portion more efficiently. We’re anticipating it will take about eight or nine months to complete the project.”
Contractors will face the penalty of liquidated damages if they exceed the deadline. Smith said the penalty will be $500 per day before reaching substantial completion and an additional $500 per day before final completion.
“When we awarded the contract, we relied on professional services,” Miller said. “I’m not an architect, and nobody on our board is, either. We assumed we would get what we paid for, and this is why a lawsuit was filed against the architect and the contractor who built the building.”
Miller said any accusations of negligence on the part of the board were ridiculous. He called the building more stable than any on the Court Square in Benton, built before seismic codes, but acknowledged the building does not meet the current standard.
County Attorney Jeff Edwards said the county has filed motions of discovery and exchanged interrogatives in the lawsuit. Some of the delay had been based on time needed to determine the cost and extent of the rehabilitation.
“I think we will recover the money, but I don’t know how much and I don’t know when,” Miller said.
Martin Johnson, Benton City Attorney and board member, suggested delaying the awarding of contracts until a financier for the project could be selected. Miller indicated the Kentucky Association of Counties would be willing to fund the renovation. He added all local banks would be asked to provide terms of finance.
“It makes me nervous to commit to a project when we do not have the money,” Johnson said.
A second meeting will be held this Friday at noon at Magic Valley Catering to select a mode of finance and to award the contracts.
Smith said it might take up to two weeks to review bids and sign contracts. Time presented a concern to him as bids are only guaranteed for 30 days after opening.