They won’t be ready to begin construction for months, but the Lansing School Board did approve an important part of the planning for its multimillion-dollar construction project.
They won’t be ready to begin construction for months, but the Lansing School Board did approve an important part of the planning for its multimillion-dollar construction project. Hollis and Miller Architects are now designing a new high school with athletic facilities and renovations to the current high schools for that building’s transformation into a new middle school, all of which will be the product of a $73 million bond issue approved by voters in November. But before starting to move any dirt, Hollis and Miller’s Kirk Horner said there were steps to take. “There some different options in terms of how to build the school that maybe we might want to consider based on the project,” he said. Horner presented three different options for the project: The general contractor model, the construction manager model and the construction manager at-risk model. The general contractor model has in the past been the most common — the design specifications and plans are put out for bid, with the lowest bid taking the contract and hiring subcontractors to perform the work. That general contractor is responsible for ensuring that the project is completed. The benefits of the general contractor approach is that it typically is about 1 to 2 percent cheaper than the other two methods and includes less paperwork. But Horner said the method does require more hands-on observation on the district’s part and usually yields a slower response time for followup items. He said it’s also harder for the district to have any say in who the general contractor is. “We’re throwing it out there on the open market, and we can qualify a little bit, but we can’t control as easily based on qualifications or past experiences,” he said. In the 1990s, Horner said the state started to see more projects using the construction management model, under which the school district would hire a consultant for the project starting in the design stage. The district would hold contracts with the subcontractors directly and the construction manager would not be allowed to do any of the work. The advantages is that the method would require less site observation on the district’s part and allows the district to select the manager based on qualifications. However, Horner said this arrangement does make the district directly responsible for the work of the subcontractors, increases paperwork and is slightly more expensive than a general contractor. “For the past 20 years, these have been the two most common methods to deliver schools,” he said. In 2008, the Kansas Legislature OKd a third, Horner said — the construction management at-risk method, under which the district would hire a manager during the design process who would be allowed to do some work on the site and who would hire the subcontractors. “In my opinion, it takes some of the disadvantages out of both of them,” he said, referring the other two methods. The method would still make the total project costs about 1 or 2 percent higher but it can also help reduce the potential financial impact of change orders that general contractors can ask for with a guaranteed maximum price. Following the presentation, School Superintendent Randy Bagby recommended that the board approve using the construction manager at-risk method, mentioning the benefits of its hybrid approach. Board Member Bob Nye said he supported the measure. “We’re not experts, so since we’re not, we should pass the risks on to somebody who is, because it costs a little bit more, but we’re not going to make mistakes that are going to cost a lot,” he said. The board approved the measure.