Canterbury, NH Building Needs Committee - 2001

Minutes of Meeting
– December 3, 2002–
(as reported by Secretary Billie Richert)



Meeting December 3, 2002 at 7:00 PM at Sam Lake House


Kent Ruesswick, Chairman

Kevin Bragg – Historical District Commission
Mike Capone – Selectmen representative
Charlie Cook
Bob Fife
Gordan Jackson
Ken Jordan
Ginger LaPlante – Historical District Commission
Billie Richert
Jeremy Slayton
Ted West

Steve Atherton, Cobb Hill Construction (CHC)


The Chairman opened the meeting by notifying members that Tom Burke, of Sheerr McCrystal Palson (SMP), died over the weekend. Tom had attended several of our meetings and had been working on the design for the Town Hall addition and Life Safety Building design. Kent asked the members to sign a sympathy card that was sent on behalf of the Town.

Due to Tom’s death, SMP representatives were not in attendance as previously scheduled. Steve Atherton was in attendance and Kent asked Steve to explain the construction management that his company can perform for the Life Safety Building and the Library.

Steve began by clarifying that for the Town Hall addition, his company was operating as a general contractor and his previously submitted proposal was presented as such. Steve explained that under the concept of construction management (CM), for each construction project there is a team composed of the owner (Town of Canterbury), the architect (SMP), and the contractor (the Team). Typically, an architect has more upfront contact with the owner. When an agreement is reached as to what the Town wants, then CHC gets to look at the structural part of the project in working with architect for value engineering; that is, look at options to save money, etc., along with input from owner.

For construction management of the proposed work, CHC would charge a fee for the job; usually five to six percent for this service. Steve explained that he likes to bring HVAC/plumber/electrical engineers in early to commit to work with design-build format with architect rather than having architect obtain bids for this work. All other trades (sub-contractors) go out for competitive bid. In a typical construction project there are sixteen (16) divisions of work, such as division one which includes on-site trailer, phone, etc.; division two includes such things as grading, concrete, etc.; all the way through to the sixteenth division or breakdown of the project’s various tasks to be completed.

Steve then stated that CHC presents to the Team its selected sub-contractors for doing bidding on projects. These potential sub-contractors must have adequate insurance and CHC attempts to obtain the absolute lowest price for the work by putting work out for competitive bid after receiving input from the owner.

CHC puts together a pre-construction schedule with drop-dead dates; identify long-lead items; and it is during this process that the budget is fine-tuned.

Steve informed the committee that the construction management approach cuts 20 to 25 percent off entire construction time. There is usually a contingency for budget increases, maybe ten percent, but this is reduced as the plan becomes more specific. At the end of the pre-construction process, CHC then presents a guaranteed maximum price for the completion of the construction project and begins operating as a general contractor under a construction contract with the Town. So basically there are two phases to any construction project; the pre-construction phase and then the actual construction contract phase. Steve stated he is willing to do project for the Town similar to what he has done for the town of Boscawen. He explained that CHC will continue working with SMP and will charge the Town for the pre-construction phase only if the Town votes to fund the project. Typically, pre-construction fees are one to one and one-half of the entire project; sometimes can be honed down. Steve explained this amount is deducted from the total fee of five to six percent of the entire construction management fee.

Steve continued explaining the services CHC would provide during the project including providing a construction schedule, weekly meetings with owner and updating subcontractors’ schedules; basically Steve explained his company would oversee the project from beginning to end.

Steve explained that on the Town Hall addition, to show progress, I’ve fine-tuned my price and I’ve given pricing closer to reality to Kent. Steve continued explaining that the construction management concept doesn’t work well for small jobs like the Town Hall addition; although we can negotiate whatever you want. Steve said he finds it very hard how to make it work. He has removed job trailers, etc; and perhaps the Town can get better prices with guys the Committee may know. CHC is not committed to anyone (subcontractors). Steve said he would like to get on Town Center project as the Town gets further along on it.

Jeremy asked Steve how flexible and reactive is the process when the design is done by SMP and CHC prices it out and we find it’s too much.

Steve replied that the budget dictates scope of work. Architect (SMP) works with contractor. It is a three-party decision-making process (architect, contractor and owner).

Jeremy asked if the Committee should look at the budget first rather than design first.

Steve replied that Eric (SMP) would have his conceptual drawing and might say that drawings reflect Town’s priorities, for example.

Charlie stated that time is getting short here; selectmen need meetings.

Steve replied we have come up with a fairly good price of what you are going to have to ask for.

Jeremy asked how could you have this (information) without bidding for the lowest prices.

Steve replied that Eric (SMP) and CHC work closely together and have other similar projects from which to draw.

Discussion ensued on approach to use for presenting to the Town.

Steve indicated that usually he and Eric would answer detail questions during the Town meeting and that the Committee should be prepared similarly to Boscawen who had four scenarios and what was included in each (and costs).

Jeremy asked Steve if he would present four scenarios to the Committee and to the selectmen.

Steve replied he would rather do three of the five buildings and here’s the cost of three or five buildings all middle of the road (that is, standard building materials).

Jeremy replied that it’s important to get everyone on board; can’t do three of five buildings, for example.

Steve then discussed the process Boscawen went through in developing different options.

The Chairman then indicated he wanted the discussion to continue on the topic of construction management and asked if everyone were happy about the concept and having CHC perform this service.

Charlie then stated that the Town Hall addition blinded us.

Jeremy stated his concern was that this was done in a competitive way. It’s clear that with construction management, competitive aspect is there.

Steve stated that HVAC and electrical were key areas to save money; all others competitive.

Charlie stated that construction management could go sour; for example Pittsfield high school never finished; architect hired subcontractors. I (Charlie) think Steve is saying this isn’t right; make changes; Steve is going to bring in the HVAC contractor. With HVAC/electrical engineering; part of architectural design; that is, he who designs it, builds it.

Steve said he would interview three, along with the Town, to decide who would do HVAC/electrical engineering.

Jeremy asked if this take places before town vote.

Steve replied that it does, but they (HVAC/electrical engineers) would want to be paid. I’m not sure you need that before town vote. We can get a close estimate.

Ted stated that pre-construction does not end with town vote.

Steve replied that bidding is part of pre-construction.

Ted so we’ve started project before having construction contract in place.

Steve said no; only area to look at briefly are a couple of ideas on remodeling Highway Department building; how to reheat; we might be able to do ourselves (CHC) for a ballpark number.

Jeremy asked if there is a road map between now and March; can you and SMP help us with this before first town meeting.

Steve replied yes, if I’m on board.

Gordon then asked where is our authority to accept CHC where selectmen are concerned.

Mike replied that one way, you make a recommendation; another way you decide. I’ve been back and forth on this. To be safe, make a recommendation. Frank and I discussed this at great length last night; the problem is we have to compress the time for everything else; our board can’t do things in five minutes. I have to explain these discussion points. I try to bring people up to speed on issues. This is not the only decision we have to make. We can’t give you an answer in five minutes.

Steve then said if there are any particular contractors you want, let me know.

Kevin stated it must be an open process with HVAC/electrical bids.

Kent asked Mike if a decision can be made at his next meeting and Mike said he would pursue as quickly as possible.

Charlie then stated that he recommended CHC as the construction management firm to the selectmen; and that we have interviewed two other companies, Hutter Construction and Brush Construction.

Kent then asked for a vote and all voted in favor with none opposing.

Discussion regarding town hall addition ensued. Steve asked if work was going to be done before town meeting.

Kent asked if CHC could do work using construction management concept.

Steve said yes, but fee goes up; need to cover costs.

Ted asked construction management? Why can’t you do as general contractor?

Steve replied that he would gladly entertain subcontractors. I will go with lowest (price) subcontractor that has insurance. Cost between $61,000 and $63,000; getting more detail; $80,000 to $85,000 for entire addition to completion; need $3,000 to $5,000 to cover additional costs for having two phases versus one. Steve explained his fee was included in the $61,000 to $63,000 quote.

Jeremy asked how would numbers change.

Steve said we wouldn’t have fees but a percentage. Our construction costs included everything if we manage project.

Gordon asked if selectmen would be comfortable with this and Mike said we are fine.

Ted asked do we need to do the Town Hall addition rather than rolling it into total work; it’s more money to do in phases.

Mike indicated money in warrant articles; you can encumber the money and roll it forward to next year.

Ginger stated we do not have enough money to finish; what kind of management would we have if can’t complete project we start.

Mike stated that it makes more sense and would be more responsible to roll addition into total work being planned for the Town Center rather than doing addition piecemeal and by itself.

Steve stated that by rolling project into the overall, larger project, the contract management price goes down.

Mike stated that he had spoken with a small group of people who had not seen any benefit for getting Town Hall addition in ground to show something.

Gordon asked Steve if rolling Town Hall addition into larger project would get a better price and Steve said yes.

Mike then stated he needed to talk with Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) to see if we can roll over funding.

Ted stated this would be simpler for Town and made a motion to postpone the Town Hall addition until later with larger project and not break ground this fall.

Kent asked all if favor; all were in favor and there were no dissents.

Kent stated that we also get LCHIP funds.

Steve asked how much was requested and Kent stated up to $62,000.

The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 8:15 p.m.


Tuesday, December 10, 2002, 7:00 p.m. at Parish House.

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