Contractors raise price of Sciences Building for audiovisual system

Although an opening date has not been announced, the Saddleback College Sciences Building is expected to be completed during the summer, and ready for use during the Fall 2016 semester. The facility is anticipated to be a “top-notch learning environment,” outfitted with 26 laboratory spaces, gardens, a three-story atrium and an underground system for retaining storm water.

To stay consistent with the facility’s state-of-the-art theme, the South Orange County Community College District approved a “change order” during a monthly board meeting on March 28. The change order increased the contract amount to allow a new audiovisual system to be installed.

“The Sciences Building construction paralleled the college’s effort to evolve the [audiovisual] standard,” said a SOCCCD report. “The college Director of IT recommended that the college administration support instillation of the new system in the Sciences Building.”

A document from the South Orange County Community College District gives a price breakdown to the third change order. (SOCCCD)

A document from the South Orange County Community College District gives a price breakdown to the third change order. (SOCCCD)

The unanimously approved change order raised the contract amount by $665,512. Audiovisual “system modifications” will cost about $645,000, according to a report.

“We have allocated a certain amount of basic aid to cover the project,” said Trustee David Lang at SOCCCD board meeting on March 28. “If we got into an instance where for example, the colleges all of the sudden decided that they wanted to make a bunch of changes to the contract that hadn’t been there to start with, and maybe it wasn’t a basic aid money, that might be an instance where it comes out of the college budget rather than the basic aid funds.”

This is the case for the upgrade in the audiovisual system of the Sciences Building. Because the increase was not included in the original project plan, Saddleback’s administration agreed to fund the upgrade, the report said.

Other costs covered by the change order included “unforeseen over-excavation at observatory curb,” relocating a dome control panel, a concrete ramp and concrete v-ditch at the observatory.

The revised contract amount for the Sciences Building is now $55,545,633.

Two months before construction began on the Sciences Building, SOCCCD Board of Trustees approved a contract with C.W. Driver, with a “guaranteed maximum price” of $53,844,044. Since that time the cost of the building has increased by $1.7 million.

The first change order decreased the total contract by $218,772 on April 27, 2015. Three months later, during July’s meeting, the contract increased by $1.25 million. This increase was used to fund a new system of electronic key locks for the facility.

“I guess the issue I had on this one is back on April 27 back when we considered this we were all thinking, ‘this is great we got almost a $219,000 reduction in this contract,’” Trustee Lang said during the July 20 board meeting. “But by that date we had already had two items that were going to increase the contract by like a million and 59 thousand dollars. From a timing standpoint it didn’t sit well with me.”

The contractors knew the “finalized pricing” by April 7, 2015, according to C.W. Driver’s primary representative to the Sciences Building project who was at the July 20 meeting.

“We certainly knew by the board meeting which was April 27 when we approved the reduction in the contract,” Lang said.

In total, the board of trustees has changed the contract amount 3 times.

According to a report, the Saddleback College Sciences Building project has a budget “with an approved basic aid project budget of $67,258,346.”