Health center faces further delays

By Caryn Rosenberg

The manager of the ill-fated University Health Center project said the contractor is at fault and won’t be paid until it meets its obligations.

Scott Rogers, Capital Development Board (CDB) project manager, said the delay in the health center project is the responsibility of the contractor, Brand Asbestos Control Company.

Because of rising asbestos levels, the health center had to move out of its building in the summer of 1990 before state money was allocated for asbestos abatement. But waiting for money was only the beginning, as the contractor caused a three-month delay in completion of the project.

“The abatement should have been complete by December 19,” Rogers said. “Brand assured us that the project was proceeding on schedule.”

However, that was not the case.

“Double shifts of people were used by Brand in December in order to speed up the process, but by then it was too late,” Rogers said.

Mike Penick, Group President at Brand, previously said the cold weather in November was one of the problems causing the delay.

According to Rogers, however, this is not a valid excuse.

“The three-month delay is the contractor’s responsibility,” Rogers said. “If the cold was the problem, it’s their responsibility to heat the building.”

In addition, Penick said the abatement took longer than expected because the project itself was difficult.

Rogers said this excuse is not valid either.

“They had a chance to walk through the building beforehand,” Rogers said. “There is a pre-bid meeting generally two weeks before the bids are opened where (contractors) can review the site, pose questions and review the documents.”

Rogers said Brand could have expressed any concerns they had about the project at that time.

During the abatement, Brand recontaminated two floors and damaged the building. Rogers said the contract contains no clause governing damages.

“The Capital Development Board has no language in the contract for liquidated damages,” Rogers said. “If you are willing to put in incentive clauses, you can put in a clause for liquidated damages,” Rogers said.

“Basically, it turns into a cat fight about who delayed what and when,” he said.

However, Rogers said CDB can restrict Brand from doing any of its projects for one year.

“We have the power to disqualify them, but you can only do it for a year,” Rogers said. “Contractors who are not pre-qualified can turn in bids, but we will not accept them.”

Although Brand could bid after one year if its qualifications were pulled, Rogers said he would do everything he could to make sure it did not do another CDB project.

Rogers said CDB still owes Brand money for the project, but it will not give it to them until Brand meets its obligations.

In addition, Rogers said the contractor is responsible to pay for all of the architect’s fees after the scheduled completion date and said CDB will “insist that (it) receive a waiver from Beiling (Engineering Consultants, the architect) to show that (CDB) has been paid” before it pays Brand the remaining amount owed.

As a result of the delay of the abatement, the health center renovation also has been pushed back three months and the project will not be completed until Spring 1993.