$35 million maximum price set for jail replacement project

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Finance committee recommends GMP to county supervisors


By Steve Van Kooten


As the summer begins, updates to the county’s replacement jail project have come one after another, with several more to come as the weather heats up. On June 14, the county finance committee reviewed a proposed total project guaranteed maximum price (GMP) for the jail, which includes construction costs for the new addition, remodeling costs for the existing jail facility and soft costs for the entire endeavor.

The GMP represents the amount of money the county will contract for on the project. It will be used to set monetary limits for the county to borrow in June, inform the bidding process in July and help shape bond issuances for project funds by August.

Scott Fettig, president of Klein McCarthy Architects; Greg Callin, vice president of client services for Kraemer Brothers; and Mitch Gilbertson, with Kraemer Brothers, presented soft cost, design and construction details to the finance committee during the meeting.


Soft Costs

According to Fettig, soft costs are expenses that are not part of the construction budget.

Soft costs include insurance policies for the project, permits, design and engineering fees and a myriad of other project needs that are not directly related to construction.

Fettig said two percent of the soft cost budget had been allocated to furniture, fixtures and equipment, which is approximately $600,000. Similar projects have spent as much as 3–5 percent of their budget in that category.

Certain items, including the dispatch consoles and body scanner, could be wholly or partially paid for with grant money if the county qualified, but Fettig said Klein McCarthy did not want to budget based on money the county had not yet received.

“We just didn’t want to count on these in case something happens and they don’t get the full grant or anything.”

Soft costs for the project are estimated at $3.7 million, which is slightly higher than the schematic budget presented to the committee in April.


Design update

As budget costs have evolved, Kraemer Brothers and Klein McCarthy have worked together to hone designs for the addition and remodel.

“We have worked pretty closely with Kraemer Brothers on different ideas, whether that be means and methods, similar materials we want to switch out, or anything to reduce that budget and scope to make things easier, more affordable and more constructable [sic],” said Fettig.

At the GMP stage, approximately 65 percent of project drawings are completed, according to documentation from Kraemer Brothers. Callin previously said Klein McCarthy has delivered design drawings on time throughout the project.


Bid packages

In setting a GMP budget for the construction costs, Callin said, “This is really the stage where we get outside input on as many categories as we possibly can.”

As the budget progressed from the schematic stage to the maximum price phase, the county put out bids on certain costs in the construction budget. These “bid packages” are items with long lead times that subcontractors bid on to vie for a work contract.

Callin added that the subcontractors providing estimates on the GMP are companies that Kraemer Brothers has “a high level of confidence in.” Subcontractors provide budgets to the county at no cost in exchange for an early look at the project before competitive bidding takes place.

At least six items in the budget were bid on June 11. The county hosted a public bid for excavation and grading on the base site of the project, excavation and grading for the Hayden Street construction, the supply of precast concrete, the supply of rebar concrete reinforcement and the supply of all detention equipment.

The county bid out the Hayden Street portion of the project separately from the rest of the excavation work because it would need to be done in the late summer of 2025.

“That way we can start the building and not damage the adjacent street that’s obviously very tight to the site,” said Gilbertson.

For the supply of concrete, Gilbertson said Kraemer Brothers had found a quarry in Eastern Iowa that supplied material for the county’s administrative building, and it was a cost-effective option to utilize it again for the new addition.

Two national companies, one based in Wisconsin and the other in Florida, bid on the detention equipment, which  totaled $3.1 million, and the bids were within $60,000 of each other.


Total budget

The bids and other input from subcontractors have helped make the GMP more accurate than the previous budgets, according to Callin.

The construction budget GMP has five categories: site development ($817,567), general construction ($13,177,750), mechanical and electrical work ($11,595,000), miscellaneous equipment ($4,006,600) and contingency ($1,000,000).

The total GMP construction budget is estimated to be $30,262,917, which, when added to the soft costs, brings the total project’s GMP to slightly under $35 million, up from the $32.2 million total cost in the schematic budget in April.

“At the GMP stage, we typically budget to the thousands of dollars or even the five thousands of dollars, but given the fact we have bid components here. We have exact numbers,” said Callin. “I have a good feeling about where we are in our general construction budget.”

Several categories increased or decreased in cost as Kraemer Brothers put together the GMP, including site work, general construction, mechanical/electric/plumbing/fire protection and miscellaneous equipment. Callin said there were numerous reasons for the cost increases, with the HVAC system costs for both the remodel and the new addition being the biggest change in expenses.

“This is the category where we have had the cost creep from the schematic budget, and the villain, in particular, is HVAC,” he said. “As you look at those numbers, the mechanical and electrical was [sic] just under nine million, and we’re now at $11.5 million.”

The HVAC cost by itself accounted for $4.675 million of the mechanical/electrical budget, more than $1 million over its estimated cost in the schematic budget. HVAC increased dramatically per square foot of space due to inflation and because supply costs for things needed in HVAC systems, like copper, were “not favorable,” according to Gilbertson, who said, “Overall, there’s still a lot of volatility in the mechanical markets.”

Other factors that increased HVAC costs included a higher price for materials due to the smaller size of the new addition compared to other similar projects, state requirements and complications with the mechanical systems in the existing law enforcement center, which Callin said was “more complex and more intense” than what was originally anticipated.

“We just don’t have a lot of qualified subcontractors in close proximity able to handle the complexity of this particular location. Bidders are coming from further away which adds cost.”

With only $5 million currently bid, Gilbertson said Kraemer Brothers will continue to meet designers and sub-contractors to find “creative solutions” and engineering ideas to reduce costs for the remodel.

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