Brait Builders ‘on schedule’ and ‘under budget’ at six-month mark
By Josh Farnsworth
Steven King photo Sutton – Representatives from Brait Builders said they knew six months ago they were walking into a difficult situation with a long punch list to overcome in the middle-high school project.
Tuesday night, all signs from the contractor and school bbuilding committee indicate they are set to make their April 2015 deadline of finishing the bbuilding to allow high school seniors at least a handful of weeks to enjoy the new surroundings.
Members of Brait Builders addressed the Sutton Board of Selectmen Tuesday evening to convey that the project is “at or ahead of schedule” and is coming in under budget despite several setbacks the new contractor needed to overcome.
“We have had significantly more activity than this time last year,” said building committee chair Wendy Meade. “Nothing is perfect, but we are doing well with regards to schedule and budget.”
Strategic Business Solutions project manager Jon Winikur praised the change in attitude at the site, calling it “vastly different” from the former contractor, TLT.
“We think the progress made is reflective of that,” he said.
Project manager Bob Brait noted the change among the subcontractors on site, saying that the positive attitude seemed to stem from getting rid of the “TLT days.”
Brait Builders was officially hired six months ago to pick up where TLT Construction left off. TLT’s contract on the project was terminated by the Town of Sutton last fall after not reaching a number of deadlines and amid claims that they were not paying subcontractors.
TLT has since filed a lawsuit against the town.
Winikur told the board about the number of challenges Brait faced when starting a project in midstream, including getting the subcontractors on board again after being “demobilized” for a period of time and making “significant progress” on the punch list of items needed to be completed. These included what Bob Brait said were “sheets worth” of areas leaking, a lot of which had to do with incomplete work prior, as well as repaneling parts of the middle school, which he called a “great task.”
There are still multiple items that need to be addressed, according to Winikur. The auditorium, while used with small crowds, is not yet ready to handle full occupancy. Bob Brait said there are trim work details that could be tripping hazards and new acoustic panels for the auditorium had to be reordered after they received the wrong sized panels. Some chairs had to also be taken care of due to “handle issues” on some of the new auditorium chairs.
Bob Brait also explained that there had been a leak that damaged some carpeting, which Brait replaced, while connecting the core building to the new middle school section. Brait assured the board that the problem was completely resolved.
As a result of the various updates necessary to gain a full occupancy permit, Town Administrator Jim Smith told the board that he has moved the fall town meeting this October to the Simonian Center for Early Learning, as the board had to sign the warrant that evening and a location needed to be secured.
Board member John Hebert said he had hoped the town could use the auditorium to show it off to the public. He, and various other selectmen, praised the look of the auditorium thus far as a showpiece for the community.
“The auditorium is world class,” said chair Ken Stuart. “And the whole building is going to sustain itself for many, many years.”
Winikur said the project has hit every critical milestone, with the exception of having the auditorium 100 percent ready, but stated his wish that the room “needs to be perfect” before moving forward with a full occupancy license.
He said that there are minor things such as trim work details to the exterior of the building. The main focus of the project this week is dry-walling the second floor of the new high school with the first floor right behind that.
When asked about the critical steps forthcoming, Bob Brait said they are on schedule to have construction done by April 2015 to allow the high school students and teachers to move into the classrooms. Once the middle school students move over to their new space – currently being occupied by the high school students – the next steps will be to remove the portable classrooms and begin work on the baseball field where those trailers, as well as construction material and equipment have sat.
Winikur stressed that the students would not be using the new high school space until everything was ready and cautioned against setting specific deadlines for opening certain parts of the building, such as the new gymnasium.
Building Commissioner John Couture told the Board that he has no worries that he will be issuing a full occupancy permit on time.
“We are going from the absolute worst contractor to the absolute best,” he said.