CMAR pre-approved for Bertie project

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2006

WINDSOR – The deal is nearly complete.

After months of behind the scenes work by county staffers as well as Richard Andrews, the architect responsible for drawing the plans for Bertie County’s new Department of Social Services office, it appears that construction is hopefully just around the corner.

At Monday’s Bertie Board of Commissioners meeting, a motion was approved to recognize Ellis-Walker Builders, Inc. as the firm submitting the lowest Construction Manager At-Risk (CMAR) proposal. The motion also authorized Andrews to launch discussions with the Fayetteville-based company in regards to the value engineering portion of the project.

Meanwhile, Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb informed the board that the deal has to be approved by the Local Government Commission. Additionally, the county needs to authorize their attorney (Lloyd Smith) to solicit bids for financing the construction. Lamb said the timetable to complete those two procedures is hopefully less than three months.

The deal to construct a new DSS facility has been the topic of several discussions during board meetings since earlier this year. Several ideas were presented, but it was during a March meeting that Andrews introduced the CMAR option, a unique process that foregoes the traditional bidding process.

Bertie’s Commissioners earlier adopted a special resolution to use this procedure and approved the sending of requests for proposals to construction firms.

Two construction firms responded with proposals n Ellis-Walker and Barnhill Contracting of Raleigh. Ellis-Walker’s proposal totaled nearly $3.8 million while Barnhill projected a price of $4.47 million. Both proposals exceeded the county’s estimated cost of $3 million.

However, with the commissioners opening the door on Monday for Andrews to discuss value engineering with Ellis-Walker, it is hoped the price will be reduced.

Andrews pointed out two significant cost-saving measures. One dealt with moving the new DSS facility, set for construction adjacent to the Bertie Memorial Hospital property, closer to the road.

“That change alone would save an estimated $300,000 on site preparation work,” Andrews said.

Commissioner Wallace Perry kept the discussion centered on that option. He said the original plans called for using the property near the front of the county-owned land open for future development. If the new DSS facility was moved into that space, Perry wanted to know if there would be room to add other buildings.

Andrews responded by saying that if moving the DSS building closer to road was approved, the rear of the lot would be targeted as a future growth area.

The other cost-saving measure would be to lower the height of the building by 3-to-4 feet.

“With value engineering, I feel we can lower the price to $3 million or less,” Andrews stressed.

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. The CMAT procedure is commonly used by the state in its construction projects. It is the construction manager who assumes all the risks concerning costs, change orders, schedule delays and contingency. Upon submitting a price, they are not allowed to ask for any cost overruns due to, for example, increases in materials or labor.

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.