Archive for Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Overseeing project: What’s the best route

December 10, 2003

School board members Monday night debated whether to hire a construction manager or to use a general contractor to lead the district through a possible school building project.

Superintendent Richard Erickson told board members that considering the scope of the project, it's possible a construction manager would serve the district better.

On Tuesday, Erickson said, a construction manager is a person or firm hired to coordinate a project, communicate with architects and sub-contractors and manage the construction process.

A general contractor, Erickson said, would make a single bid.

With a construction manager, there would be about 27 separate bids.

"As you break down each bid, there is an opportunity to save money," Erickson said. "Whereas if you're accepting just one large bid on the project, there's obviously less opportunity."

Erickson said if the district uses a construction manager, local contractors would have more of a chance to work on the project.

"There's more opportunity to take bids and to allow local contractors to make bids and participate in this project," Erickson said.

Jim French, architect with the DLR Group, the firm hired on a contingency basis to lead the district through planning and construction of a new school, said the decision was entirely up to the school board.

"A construction manager is different from a general contractor," French said. "One of the number one things you hire a construction manager for is to keep you in line with the budget."

It's imperative, French said, if the board is going to hire a construction manager, that they do it as quickly as possible so that he would be working with the district before a bond election is held.

And, as Erickson said, a construction manager could allow the district to have more input in the building process.

"One of the nice things about construction management is that you know who's going to build your building," French said. "When you go the general contractor way, you go with the low bidder."

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