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DSS construction could come under budget

WINDSOR – It’s a deal that the Bertie County Board of Commissioners found too hard to pass up.

At last week’s board meeting, Richard Andrews, the architect responsible for drawing the plans for the county’s new Department of Social Services office, introduced an option that has the potential to save a substantial amount of money on the project.

The 20,000 square foot office n complete with an access road off US 17, water and sewer improvements and a storm water holding pond n was estimated in the $3 million range. However, with Andrews’ option, the total package, including contingency and architectural fees, is under $2.5 million.

The savings, according to Andrews, would come through a process he referred to as Construction Management At-Risk. That procedure, commonly used by the state in its construction projects, forgoes the traditional bidding process. Instead, the county, after adopting a special resolution to use this procedure, would send request for proposals to construction firms. A selection committee is appointed who will review the proposals and chooses the construction manager based upon qualifications and guaranteed maximum costs.

It is the construction manager who assumes all the risks concerning costs, change orders, schedule delays and contingency.

“This is like having your cake and eating it too,” Andrews said. “The construction manager assumes all the risks. They cannot ask for any cost overruns if, for say, there are increases in materials or labor. This method saves time and money.”

As a licensed general contractor, the construction manager pre-qualifies and competitively selects each level of sub-contracting work. The manager oversees the entire project and takes on all risks for completion of the project on time and within budget.

“This method represents a savings to the county, but what I want to see is a contractor that will take on all these risks,” Attorney Lloyd Smith, counsel to the Commissioners, said.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said he had studied the construction manager at-risk procedure and came to the conclusion that this method was the fastest and cheapest way to go.

“I would recommend this method,” Lamb said.

“I trust Richard’s confidence in helping us find the right person to take on this project,” Rick Harrell, Board Chairman, said. “Our number one concern in this or any other project is that we make each and every effort to make sure we are wisely spending taxpayer’s money.”

Acting upon a motion made by Vice-Chairman Norman Cherry Sr., the commissioners unanimously agreed to instruct Andrews and Smith to develop a resolution to use the request for proposals method and to move forward in collecting a list of potential construction managers.