By Chad Ingram
Published Nov. 16 2017
It looks like the new Minden Hills fire hall being constructed along Highway 35 could cost at least $115000 more than anticipated.
During a Nov. 9 committee-of-the-whole meeting councillors received a report from interim fire chief Mike Bekking on the additional expenses.
More than $40000 was spent on the excavation of soil and the hauling in of engineered soil during the construction of the building’s foundation.
“The contractor found there was unsuitable load-bearing soil at the site” Bekking told councillors explaining that soil was excavated from the property following which engineered soil was used for the building’s footings.
While Bekking said core-sampling could have been performed first he noted it would have been an additional cost and that the excavation and replacement of the soil would have had to be completed anyway.
To offset this additional cost the contractor – Huntsville’s Greystone Construction Ltd. – was asked to find cost savings elsewhere.
Some $20000 in savings were found through changes such as going with standard insulated doors instead of polycarbonate ones removing some steel columns from the design and using trusses instead scrapping plans for a vinyl window in the air-fill room and changing the building’s flooring material.
“The flooring is going to be changed from porcelain to vinyl” Bekking told councillors.
He noted the vinyl flooring is designed so that it is not slippery and is easier to clean and Mayor Brent Devolin said vinyl flooring was becoming the construction standard for such facilities.
“I’m disappointed at this cost addition” said Councillor Pam Sayne.
Greystone was the lone bidder on the $1.9-million project something that had concerned Sayne when the contract was signed and she reiterated those worries last week.
“I’m concerned the contact we have allows this going back and forth and downsizing if you will” she said.
Sayne said she was also disappointed at the lack of energy savings incorporated into the project.
“My understanding was this was going to be ICF [insulated concrete form] construction” Sayne said.
“I’ll remind Councillor Sayne that we discussed the ICF in this chamber” said Devolin referencing a previous discussion to move away from ICF construction for the entire building. “That conversation was known. If that was a surprise to you . . . I’ll just leave that.”
Devolin said that on a project with a price tag of a couple million dollars he didn’t consider this a large cost overrun.
“It’s within the statistical variance that I’m comfortable with and happy to defend” he said.
Other additional items being recommended include $5000 for a washer and dryer for bunker gear; $13000 for IT infrastructure including a wall-mounted 75-inch television to be used for training purposes; $23000 for furniture including desks and chairs for the building’s conference room and offices; $30000 for an electronic sign outside the fire hall; and $20000 in contingency funds.
It’s being recommended the cost be absorbed in the 2018 budget.