MHS construction update

Prospective contractors survey the site with lead architect Tyler Riley.

MUSCATINE — More than 30 prospective contractors congregated in Muscatine High's Octagonal commons area. On the agenda today, contractors were learning the details for Muscatine High School's new gym facility. 

"This is so the contractors who are interested can come and see the site," said Tyler Riley, the architect for the project. "And then they can raise any questions that they have based on what they've seen in the drawings or the project manual. And this has been a pretty good turnout for a pre-bid meeting."

Companies ranged from Frye Builders and Swanson Construction to Winger Companies and Bi-State Contracting. 

"That's what we want," said Jeff Miller, director of facilities for the district. "That makes for tighter bidding."

Miller explained that the original problem with the project was it was bid as a construction management contract. 

"A construction management company would work with the architect but then what they would do is break out all of these bid packages," Miller said. "It could be for electrical, plumbing, masonry, and then each one of these guys is going to be a different trade that would bid on a different part. What happened with the old one, is we had 18 bid packages and out of those 18, eight only had one bidder. Contractor sees they're the only bidder, and the price goes up."

"But this is not a construction management bid. It's a (general construction) bid," Miller said. "Here, they're bidding on the whole project."

Would-be bidders are required to drop off two envelopes to the Muscatine Community School District Office by Tuesday, Oct. 17. In one, they will place a check in the amount of 5 percent of the bid they place. In a separate sealed envelop they will submit their bid.

"For the start of construction, I listed Nov. 1," Riley said. "We'd like to see things going on this winter, if possible, but we recognize that we are coming in the winter, so work may be limited to site grading, maybe some foundation work. Knowing that the metal building is going to have a lead time."

The pre-bid conference agenda listed June 1 as the date for substantial completion. But Riley said that he wanted accurate dates for the board, not guess work.

"(June 1, 2018) is what we would like to see. However, on the bid form, there is a spot to indicate when you anticipate to have substantial completion done. If you get it done sooner, that is terrific. We also understand that you guys are limited by material availability and pre-engineered metal buildings would be the first limitation. What we really want is when you think you will have it substantively complete. We want an honest answer on that for the school board, communications with community on when that building is expected to be completed. If you are looking at that June 1 date and saying, 'No, we are not going to be able to do it. It's going to be July 1.' Put it on the form. We are not using that to reject bidders — other than if they say Christmas 2018."

While the contractors who surveyed the space were quiet, Muscatine High staff and faculty seemed cheery about the thought of bids finally coming in.

"I'm excited," Miller said. "I think it is great for the district, the kids, the community. I love being part of a project, being right in the middle of it." 

"I think that this building is going to be a huge asset to our school and our community," said Mike Morgan, the athletics director. "I'm looking forward to moving forward with it."

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