Sunday, December 15, 2019

SASD school projects remain on schedule

School board updated on progress

The Sparta Area School District held a board workshop last week in order for board members to receive the latest updates on the construction projects currently underway. During the meeting, presenters also covered clarification of Market & Johnson’s fees, milestones for review, the reasons behind change orders, current proposal requests and a few miscellaneous subjects.

Market & Johnson’s fees

Craig Namyst from Market & Johnson talked to those present about its fee structure, which includes two components. The fee on the base project such as all the work categories and general commissions of work is 1.75 percent, which was dictated in the RFP; the fee on change orders is 1.8 percent.

“When all the bids came in and we’ve got the proposed general conditions, when all those are bunched together, we’ve got a fee of 1.75 percent. If general conditions come in less than we projected, the contract amount will be less and that fee will be adjusted accordingly,” Namyst explained. “Throughout the project as things are changed a fee to those will be added on at 1.8 percent. At no point will it climb over 1.75 for the base price, it will also at no time stack the 1.8 on top of the 1.75 because there’s a clear delineation between the changes to the project and the base project.”

Milestones for review

Architect Tim Ruppert from HSR Associates, Inc. explained before the team could even break ground on the projects there are all kinds of governmental bodies to go through for review such as the Department of Safety and Public Works, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and the city.

According to Rupert, typically on projects, teams try to have those milestones for review aligned with the state prior to soliciting bids.

“There is a lot of building going on and the state is very backed up in their review and their timeframes are about 12 weeks right now,” he said. “We did not align the state review with our bidding timeframe because as a team we felt we had to keep the project moving forward, however, when the state did come back they came back with a couple comments that did have a financial impact.”

If the team had waited to solicit bids until after the state review time, they wouldn’t have been bidding out until mid-summer, which would put the core of the construction time into the middle of winter.

Namyst added that once the foundations are installed, that is kind of a milestone when it comes to unknown conditions.

“You’ve got about 10 soil borings that you’ve spotted throughout the building pad but those soils fluctuate both in elevation and depth and we’ve got to have clean fill between the bottom of the footing and four feet below that so it’s all kind of a moving target,” he said. “Once you get through the foundations and know what affects the stability of the building, that’s another milestone.”

Namyst also explained basis of design as materials used in the drawings and specifications of the project and the approved equals of those materials. He said another milestone during the project is when you get through awarding the bids and finally determine what materials each individual contractor will be using.

“Once all of the submittals are in, reviewed and approved, now you know all of the parts and pieces that are going into this building,” he added. “They don’t necessarily match up exactly the way that HSR designed it using the original equipment so sometimes some modifications are required as far as sink sizes, elevators sizes and things like that.”

Change orders

Ruppert discussed the changes that happen during construction. Building codes, safety requirements as well as state codes can constantly change; getting manufactures up to speed of the changes can take some time.

Weather can severely affect progress as well.

“Anytime we design on paper versus reality, we always have to make that translation. We try to design as detailed as we can but we really do rely on construction expertise to make those final connections and make this thing come together,” Ruppert said. “That’s why we stay involved throughout the construction process; to maintain the design intent and the vision of the entire project throughout the entire phases.”

Namyst explained that there is usually an influx of changes at end of a project while reviewing the “need and want lists.”

“Just because we’re starting construction doesn’t mean we’re going to stop thinking about things,” he said. “There are hundreds of improvements you can make in a building and if we think of something as we’re going through things, it’s a worthy discussion to have.” 

Current proposal requests

Following the state review, in order to allow for construction on the site at Southside Elementary, the state required a wall that was previously a fire barrier to be converted into a firewall in the gym.

“Unfortunately there are costs associated with adding that steel,” Ruppert explained, adding if they had been able to review the state drawings before they were sent out for bid the cost would have been included in the overall bid.

“We really work as a team to minimize these,” he added.

At both Southside and Hermann Elementary, there have been numerous changes, both minimal and slightly more extreme, that were tweaked based mostly on design criteria versus what materials the subcontractors would be using. Namyst explained that sometimes the credits offset the cost.

“Things are going to come up throughout the construction process. They just do, it’s inherent,” Namyst said. “There’s always a balancing act when something hits the radar to take a minute and not overreact in order to come up with the best solution.”

According to Namyst, all of the modifications are being tracked carefully throughout the construction process. He also said both the Southside and Hermann projects are on schedule.  

 

 

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