September 27, 2012Despite a year of pressure from members of the Guilford County Board of Education, the $5.3 million project to renovate and expand the gym at High Point Central High School will probably not be finished by the beginning of basketball season in November.
According to letters from HH Architecture of Raleigh, the architect on the project, sent to Kyle Davis, the owner of KMD Construction LLC of Salisbury and the general contractor, numerous elements of the gym project are behind schedule and the gym may not be finished by contract deadlines.
"As a result, Guilford County Schools is concerned that the Nov. 13 and 14 substantial completion dates are not realistic," Chevon File, the HH Architecture project manager, wrote on Sept. 21. "It is critical that an accurate schedule be provided and followed. Please ensure that the schedule submitted next week is an accurate, realistic recovery schedule with appropriate substantial completion dates."
A recovery schedule is a schedule for a project that has already slipped behind – something HH Architecture claimed in both letters has happened.
On Sept. 12, HH Architecture wrote KMD that 24 construction elements from an August 28 schedule had not been completed. According to the architects, those included things as basic as site utilities, storm drains and grading around the gym building; interior masonry walls, steel decking, insulation, brick veneer and doors; and roof decking, insulation and sheetrock.
In the Sept. 21 letter, File wrote Davis complaining about a revised schedule that KMD provided on Sept. 17.
"This schedule was not a recovery schedule and indicated substantial completion dates of November 13 and 14, 2012 for Phases 1A and 1B respectively," File wrote. "As discussed with Guilford County Schools on September 18, the revised project schedule had activities that need to be changed and additional entries added. GCS requested that the changes be made and a new schedule be submitted by noon on September 21, 2012. KMD has informed GCS that the schedule will not be available until sometime the following week."
According to File's Sept. 21 letter, Guilford County Schools, HH Architecture and KMD met at High Point Central on Sept. 20 to review the progress of the project and "a number of activities appear to be behind schedule already."
The gym project at High Point Central almost seems jinxed. KMD is the second general contractor on the project.
On Nov. 8, 2011, the school board voted unanimously to terminate its contract with Miles Builders of Charlotte, the main contractor on the High Point Central project, which had fallen more than a month behind. The school board claimed that Miles Builders has violated the contract in multiple ways, including falling months behind schedule and not paying subcontractors on time.
In April, the bonding company on the project hired KMD to take over, and, in November 2012, a year after the school board fired Miles Builders, the job still isn't done.
The HH Architecture letters show the project manager trying not only to speed up construction of the gym, but perhaps to create a legal record to seek relief from KMD's bonding company or to use in a legal dispute between the school system and the contractor after the gym is finished.
If so, the gym project would be going the same way as the $25 million construction of McNair Elementary School on Yanceyville Road. McNair was originally scheduled to be completed by July 18, 2012, in time for students to occupy the school at the end of August, but the project by early summer was obviously running behind schedule.
Guilford County Schools accused Farley Associates, the general contractor on McNair, of breaching the construction contract and the payment bond on the project.
According to Arty Bolick, the partner at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP who handles construction law for the school board, Hartford has chosen JE Dunn Construction Co., headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, as the new construction manager, and that Dunn is already on site at McNair. Bolick said Hartford has "an agreement in principal" with JE Dunn, the sixth largest construction company in the Untied States.
Bolick said that Guilford County Schools does not yet know whether JE Dunn will act solely as a construction manager or will be the general contractor to replace Farley Associates.
"That's between JE Dunn and Hartford, whether they'll be a construction manager overseeing contractors or a general contractor," Bolick said. "To us it's the same."
Bolick said that JE Dunn could keep or dismiss subcontractors as Hartford and the construction company see fit.
"It's totally up to them who they want to use," he said. "Everyone has acknowledged that it's in everyone's interest to use the same subs when possible."
Bolick said that Hartford has not yet provided a revised schedule with a completion date.
The High Point Central project had problems even before Guilford County Schools awarded Miles Builders its contract.
High Point Central was scheduled to get $5.3 million for renovations to the school's gym and lighting, and technology upgrades to its main building.
The seven bids for the project, when received on Oct. 14, 2010, were all over the construction budget, most probably because Guilford County Schools had larded the project with "add alternates" – a shopping list of options beyond the original scope of the project, which contractors can include in their bids.
Central Builders Inc. of Mebane was the lowest bidder. But the company's bid of $4.2 million was over the construction budget of $4 million, and did not include the cost of the technology package, which was to be bid separately.
The Facilities Department recommended rebidding the project after HH Architecture removed elements from the design to bring the project's scope within the school system's available funds.
After the High Point Central project was rebid, the school board on April 12, 2011 voted 11 to 0 to grant the contract to Miles Builders to do the gym project for $4 million.
Davis could not be reached for comment. His office said he was on vacation.