County construction projects stay on budget & on schedule
By County Manager Chris Coudriet
In any construction project, whether it’s building a new home or renovating your kitchen, it’s important to know how much things will cost. And it’s even better to know you won’t go over budget.
That last point is key, as construction prices increase and the cost of materials goes up. Predicting how much a project will cost a year from now can be difficult.
Knowing that, New Hanover County decided to use the model of Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for two current construction projects: the Health and Human Services building that is being constructed on Greenfield Street (to house the consolidated departments of Public Health and Social Services); and the Juvenile Justice Building that will be constructed on Fourth Street over the next two years.
By using the CMAR model, the county secures a construction manager early in the design process to deliver each project within a guaranteed maximum price, based on the construction documents and specifications at the time of the contract. So any costs exceeding that guaranteed maximum price (that are outside of any change orders) are the financial liability of the CMAR. This gives the county a higher level of cost control from the start.
This process has worked incredibly well for the new Health and Human Services building, which is projected to be fully complete, with Social Services and Public Health staff moved in, by early 2020. I am looking forward to its completion because it will provide more convenience for customers and create greater efficiencies in the services we offer to our community.
Monteith Construction Corporation is the CMAR for that project, so they have assumed the financial liability if things get off course. But the building is on track and has actually moved along quicker than originally anticipated, even with delays from Hurricane Florence.
It also appears that it will be on, or possibly under, the project’s budget of $23 million. This is good news for New Hanover County and our tax payers, especially considering we received $19 million from NHRMC for the sale of the Health Department property to help offset the cost of this project.
The other CMAR project the county has underway is a new Juvenile Justice Building that will replace the current facility on Fourth Street. The new building will be three stories and 35,000 square feet, and will house court and support functions related to the juvenile court system.
New Hanover County has contracted with Bordeaux Construction Company as the CMAR to ensure the project comes in on budget. The county is working now to finalize construction documents and permitting, so that a final budget can be confirmed and the guaranteed maximum price can be established.
This building has become a priority for the county because in 2017, North Carolina Legislators passed the “Raise the Age” law, meaning that nonviolent offenses alleged to have been committed by 16 and 17 year olds will be heard in juvenile court instead of automatically charging these teens as adults.
This law goes into effect in December of this year and will necessitate increased service requirements for the juvenile court system. With the anticipated growth, this new building – which is expected to be complete in early 2021 – will allow our court system to efficiently and effectively serve those teens.
Both of these projects are important to our community. They will help to ensure we are serving our residents in facilities that are functional, easy to maintain, and relevant well into the future. And by using the CRAM model, we are minimizing the county’s risks and ensuring your tax dollars are invested wisely.
New Hanover County continues to lead in our innovative business practices and stewardship of taxpayer resources – and these two projects are prime examples of that.