Contractor ‘on the hook’ for Courthouse construction delay

Published 6:07 pm Sunday, December 28, 2014

WINTON – Construction delays on the new Hertford County Judicial Center and Government Center will wind-up putting a small dent in the general contractor’s wallet.

At their most recent meeting, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved a request for a change in services for architectural oversight of the project. This marks the second such request since the contractor – A.R. Chesson Construction Company – has missed the original substantial completion date of Oct. 5.

“Because the project is behind schedule, that changes our original architectural agreement with Ware Bonsall (the architects under contract with the county),” said Hertford County Manager Loria Williams. “This is the second additional services request. The first one was $36,000 and now this one is $50,869.31. Chesson is aware of these liquidated damages.”

She added that because the delay is the responsibility of the project’s general contractor, Chesson Construction is responsible to cover the additional work of the architect. The county’s contract with Chesson has a clause where the latter is responsible for up to $2,500 per day in liquidated damages for each day the project runs past its original completion date of Oct. 5.

In his request for additional funds, architect Paul D. Bonsall said the contractor was 66 days behind schedule of its last deadline of Oct. 23 and did not expect substantial completion of the project before Dec. 31. Bonsall said the delay had caused his company to spend at least 30 hours per week on the project over the past 66 days. He added he expects those weekly hours to grow significantly as the project nears the substantial completion deadline.

As for the added costs, Bonsall said the principal fee and construction administrator fee over the past nine weeks has amounted to a shade over $40,000. The remainder of the fees are associated with electrical engineers, mechanical/plumbing engineers, and civil engineers being involved with the project longer than anticipated.

The Commissioners approved the request for change in services.

In a later telephone conversation with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Williams said she met with the general contractor on Dec. 18 to discuss a timeline for completion of the project. That date is now Jan. 18.

“There could be additional liquidated damages since the architect’s most current request only takes the project through Dec. 31,” Williams stated.

The construction contract for the duel projects was awarded to Chesson on Dec. 4, 2012. It involves the Judicial Center (courthouse), a three story facility encompassing 45,456 gross square feet. The Center will house all departments in the existing courthouse plus the District Attorney’s Office and Child Enforcement Office, both currently in Ahoskie.

Additionally, the project includes a single story Government Center (10,385 gross square feet) that will be built adjacent, but not connected, to the courthouse. That facility will house the county manager’s office, tax collection office, tax assessment office, land records, finance office and economic development (planning and zoning) office. In turn, that space in the current administration building in Winton will be used by Hertford County DSS.

Combined, the price tag of the two projects is $12.225 million.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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