SAULT STE. MARIE: The $6.9 million repairs to the Civic Centre windows and cladding on the exterior of City Hall is set to see completion by December 2020. Since the project began in June 2018, it has had some setbacks that have resulted in what would have been a 14 month project that is now in its second year and yet to be completed. The major delay being a subcontractor change, which is basically starting the project from the beginning again. Lucky the pandemic hasn’t had a halt in delaying the repairs, it has only changed the contractor’s processes, protocols and procedures as well as enhanced safety rules as the project is considered essential construction.
“I would say it was minimal because it was deemed essential construction by the province. The contractor didn’t stop. The contractor, like all contractors, had to come up with proper safety, enhanced safety procedures because of the pandemic. That happened to all contractors, that was standard for all essential construction,” said Don Elliott, Director of Engineering Services.
With the pandemic having less of an impact, the worry surrounding the completion is why has it taken so long? Conversation has stewed in the city that the job was anticipated to be completed by January 2019, but seemingly six months was never a part of the conversation.
“Its original construction time wasn’t six months, it was probably more like 14 or 15 months. The major, I mean it’s typical to have some delays on projects but I think it’s fair to say the biggest delay on this project was the fact the general contractor had to switch subcontractors in the process. That is a lot of time.”
Currently the contractor is working on building the curtain wall, installing glass, and installing new white cladding. This is one of the many exterior jobs, while there is also still work being attended to on the interior.
“The contractor is taking the old windows out from the inside. The new windows go on the outside and he has to take the old windows out. So, he’s in office to office. He has to take the old windows out and build the wall out to the new curtain wall. There is a lot of work on the exterior and quite a bit of work on the interior that they need to do also.”
As mentioned, the project is now in its second year of upgrades, and the price has remained the same for the city.
“The contract that we have with this general contractor is what we call a lump sum contract, what we pay the contractor is fixed. In some stance, whatever time it takes is his business and we have a completion date. He has to tell us the completion date but the cost does not increase because it takes him longer.”
“I will say this though, we have a design engineer, there is additional cost to the city for the engineer, if the contractor takes a lot more time. But there are ways we can recover those costs, from the contract. There may be a marginal increase in costs to the city, but it’s not the longer it takes the contract the more we pay, because it’s a lump sum contractor at around $6.9 million.”
It is made clear by the City the windows and cladding project is not happening for aesthetic reasons. It is to update the existing 45-year-old building, as the current state of the windows and cladding presents health and safety concerns from degradation.
For more information on the project please visit https://saultstemarie.ca/Newsroom/June-2018/Civic-Centre-Windows-and-Cladding-Project-to-begin.aspx.