2014-03-21 / Community

Board votes to hire firm to manage project

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Regional School Unit 21 board of directors unanimously decided Monday to begin the process of hiring a construction manager to oversee the renovation projects of Mildred L. Day School in Arundel, Kennebunkport Consolidated School and Kennebunk High School.

The vote came after board member and Facilities Committee member Tim Hussey recommended, as representative of the committee, that the board move forward with the prospect of a construction manager.

Fees vary from firm to firm; the district will have a more approximate idea after board members send out a request for proposals and a construction management firm will counter with an estimate.

Dan Cecil, principal architect with the Portland-based Harriman Architects + Engineers firm and architect for the renovation projects, has encouraged the board to take this route for a few months.

Board member Diane Robbins, in asking about a construction manager, said, “Would it be the same person for all three projects or would it be a different person for each project? How do you see that working?”

Cecil explained the difference between a traditional general contractor and construction management.

The traditional delivery method is design bid-build. “They prequalify general contractors and put the project out to bid. The bids come back and typically the low bidder is the entity that the school district would sign a contract with, that’s the way you did this building,” Cecil said in reference to Kennebunk Elementary School.

The construction management process, Cecil said, “provides a number of advantages for you, in particular in this construction market.”

One of the major differences in the two avenues is “a construction manager is a general contract . . . it’s a firm, but what that firm does is provide you with pre-referendum and pre-construction services, which a general contractor in the traditional system can’t do,” Cecil said.

As opposed to hiring a contractor through a bidding process, hiring a construction manager is much more similar to hiring a district employee.

“Advantage number one is that you get to pick the person who has that key role your construction project.”

The idea, Cecil said, is that one entity would work with all three projects to allow for alignment of infrastructure and hardware in each of the three facilities.

The pre-referendum and pre-construction process involves aggressive pricing of materials, for example, thus leading to a more accurate cost estimate.

According to a memorandum distributed by Cecil, “the owner/architect, construction manager team can work together to prequalify the subcontractors to insure equality and reliability ... the CM develops a preliminary Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) ... any remaining funds in the GMP at the end of construction should be returned to the owner.”

In Maine a district has to apply through the Maine Bureau of General Services for construction management projects, and there are eight remaining spots available.

“I think this would be a perfect use for that because of the ability for you to control the process better, to know what you’re getting in advance, to have a contractor on board to help you with the price increases that are coming up,” Cecil said.

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