The rising cost of building materials in the last year has led to more than $1 million in changes to the planned Labette Community College athletics building.
At a special meeting Wednesday called to discuss setting the guaranteed maximum price for the building expansion, Crossland Construction senior construction project manager Aaron Hight told board members they had to bring together everyone, from the design team to the subcontractors, to find every possible option to make cuts without actually changing the dimensions of the building.
“We’ve had a committee that has worked together since the (LCC) Foundation has exceeded their original campaign goal. The prices have also increased, so our committee has been working for quite a while to try to get a budget that is within the guaranteed maximum price,” Leanna Doherty, LCC vice president of finance and operations, said. “We need to get that as soon as possible before prices go up higher.”
After Wednesday’s discussion, the board approved a guaranteed maximum price of $5,688,996 at its regular meeting on Thursday on a 5-1 vote. Trustee Mike Howerter abstained. That price is for the athletic complex itself and doesn’t include other costs related to the project.
“It’s been a crazy couple months,” Hight said Wednesday. “As you know, we had a first round of bids last year, and it didn’t come in favorably. We had a second round of bids, and as everybody knows, prices of everything has gone up considerably, whether it be lumber, whether it be steel, copper, concrete, you name it, even down to flooring. … Everything has gone up. So it’s very volatile, the market right now, so when we had our rebid, it was still not favorable.”
The budget for the athletic complex is $6,194,502, including an additional $15,000 in donations just received. Board members were given two sheets, one containing the budget and the other containing value engineering options.
“When you’re over budget you have to go back to the drawing board and review what the current design is, look into ways that we could possible save a little bit of money here and there. Everything adds up,” Hight said. “So that’s what we were tasked to do.”
They had to ask what they could do and still meet the design intent and give LCC what it needs and wants but tweak a few things. In the value engineering list, numerous changes were accepted, others were declined, being deemed low-hanging fruit but too important to the overall design intent and aesthetic.
In the end, moving from having metal stud exterior walls and parapet wall systems to a preengineered metal building, moving from horizontal metal panels to vertical, changing the lighting system, decreasing the signage allowance, moving from cast iron plumbing to insulated PVC above grade, moving from copper wiring to aluminum on the main service, completely deleting landscaping from the project and eliminating re-skinning three sides of the existing gymnasium building were just a few of the changes that were decided upon by the Crossland team.
Moving to a preengineered metal building alone saved $480,494, and Hight said the college will still have a beautiful building. In addition, he said, while they will go with painting the existing building for now, the college can re-skin the gym at anytime in the future by taking off the old metal panels and putting on new panels.
In all, the team brought almost $2 million in potential cuts to the table. In the end, $1,032,367 in changes were accepted, and the other $944,637 in cuts were rejected.
Hight said the figures contained up-to-date pricing by every subcontractor Crossland uses and would be good for one week. The total figures for the guaranteed maximum cost of construction were $5,688,996. This amount does not include furniture, fixtures and equipment and other soft costs the college is responsible for separately, which total an additional $475,445, bringing total costs for the entire project to $6,164,441.
One thing of particular note was to get down into LCC’s budget, the end figures also eliminated any contingency funds for the project, which were planned at 5%, or $250,000, initially. While “a lot” of projects proceed without a contingency, it is not something the college was comfortable with, and Hight said it is not something he encourages. Costs were dropped to about $30,000 below the college’s project budget, and that small amount could be applied to the contingency.
Contingency funds are most often needed toward the beginning of the project as the companies begin dirt work and confront poor soil conditions. A minimum of 2% or 3%, around $150,000, is recommended.
It was at first suggested by a board member that the college forgo purchasing the $85,000 worth of new bleachers and using the funds for contingency, but LCC Foundation Executive Director Lindi Forbes informed the board that some of the donations to the capital campaign were specifically designated for new bleachers.
It was then recommended by a board member that the college simply keep in place the increased student fees for an additional year that are earmarked to help with the cost of the construction project. That would generate an extra $112,000 to be applied to the contingency, should it be needed.
Some board members felt it was an exceptional idea to consider. Still, a couple asked about costs of retrofitting the old bleachers and using them and pushing full replacement to some other point in the future considering the bleachers, though 35 years old, are not dangerous. Hight said he did not know what the cost would be to do that to offer a comparison.
After considerable discussion three trustees said while they would rather not spend the money on bleachers, and would rather have the funds in the contingency, they felt given donors’ expectations for new bleachers that the bleachers needed to be approved. In a final vote, the board approved purchasing new bleachers 5-1. Howerter opposed.
With the guaranteed maximum price approved, Hight said he would send out contracts and purchase orders to lock in the price. The next hurdle is getting the utilities moved. Doherty has already started that process, but there has been a setback. Fiber runs right through the site, and work can’t get started until it is moved. A utility company is waiting on conduit that is back-ordered. Hight said there has been a lot of those type of problems in the construction industry.
“We are ready to get started. We are primed to get started, but we can’t get started until those utilities are moved. That being said, I am anticipating maybe in the next month,” Hight said, adding that would be a more favorable time for dry weather for the earthwork and concrete phases. “Be assured, with the GMP (guaranteed maximum price) locked in, the numbers won’t go up on you.”
The board also approved the college’s soft costs 5-1. Howerter opposed.
The board also, on Wednesday, approved the college sending out bid requests for financing $2.3 million of the project over five years. The funds would be drawn down over the 13-month construction period, and only interest payments would be made during the construction. The financing is being sought because some donors’ pledges to the capital campaign will be fulfilled over the next five years. Bids from financial institutions will be opened May 3, and action by the board on the bids is expected May 6. Trustee Montie Taylor said Great Southern Bank would not bid on the financing to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest. Taylor is president of the bank. Howerter opposed letting the bid requests.
As expected, the board also approved naming the new athletic facility the Zetmeir Athletic Complex.
In other business, the trustees:
— Approved Karen Barger as the new Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator.
— Voted to require board approval for any other continuations of fees beyond the current seven years to be applied to the construction of the new athletic facility.
— Approved filling the workforce allied health coordinator position.
— Approved a graphic design program review.
— Heard the next board meeting is May 6.