Plans are moving forward to renovate the Madison Primary School. Last week, bids were opened for the construction project, revealing numbers nearly $4 million dollars than originally estimated.

Bids are in for the construction of the Madison Primary School renovation project with numbers shocking supervisors.

The seven bids were opened Thursday afternoon, with totals coming in far under the $11.1-11.75 million price tag originally attached to the project by cost estimators.

“This is a great thing for Madison County,” board of supervisors chairman Clay Jackson said.

The bids, all from pre-qualified bidders, ranged from a high of approximately $8.4 million from Kenbridge-based Kenbridge Construction to the lowest bid of $6,573,000 from Culpeper-based Taft Construction. The bids include allowances for an HVAC monitoring and control system and moisture mitigation. They do not include some alternates being considered by the CIP committee including a reduced size generator and adjustments to the electrical distribution. Currently, the project includes a large generator and the electrical configuration to run it which would be used to operate the school as an emergency shelter if needed.

“Because of the electrical configuration, it was easier to put [the large generator] in [for purposes of bidding] and then take it out if needed,” Madison County Public Schools Director of Administration Tina Weaver said.

The change would result in a $90,000 price reduction on Taft Construction’s bid. Other bidders estimated the reduction at approximately the same cost.

A second option would be to replace the perimeter concrete sidewalks. Doing so would add $154,000 to the project. Repairing and recoating existing metal fascia and metal panels is also on the table at a cost of $24,000.

“These are things we’re talking about,” Weaver said.

She said the overall bids were exciting.

“We’re very pleasantly surprised with the bids,” she said, noting the bids are nearly $4 million less than the originally estimated cost of the project. “The architects and estimators are looking at comparables and we’re way under.”

Weaver credited the team for the lower figures, which includes school and county officials as well as Grimm and Parker representatives and clerk of the works Curtis Elswick of Skanska.

“We had a great team that worked hard to make sure we had the clearest [bid] documents and we opened the school to contractors whenever possible,” she said. “That’s part of what made the difference.”

She said the team also “turned over every leaf” looking for contractors. Eight contractors were pre-qualified during the process, with all but one submitting a bid.

“Seven bids is unheard of,” Weaver said. “If we have three or four we’re thrilled. It’s unusually to have that many.”

Also part of what made the difference was taking the project from a phased approach with students in the building during construction to a non-phased approach with students vacating the building. Grimm and Parker previously estimated that the change would save at least $500,000.

However, the construction costs are only part of the project. The final number will increase. Weaver said some technology costs are included in the construction, but not all and the furniture/fixtures/equipment budget is still being finalized. Plus, there are Grimm and Parker’s costs which currently total approximately $259,000 for the initial development of the renovation plan along with the design development phase of the project. Then there’s the cost of hiring Skanska at $34,080 from November 2019 to June 2020.

Still, supervisors were pleased with the bids, noting how surprising they were. Supervisor Carty Yowell questioned how the estimate could have been so far off. Supervisors will discuss the project at their next meeting, Feb. 11. School board members are expected to vote to award the bid the evening prior during their meeting. Once the bid is awarded and the contract signed, those involved in the construction will begin ordering materials in March-April with construction beginning June 1.

Meanwhile, low bidder Taft Construction is no stranger to school projects. The company, created in 1994, is responsible for the Beville Middle School renovation and addition in Woodbridge; the Old Bridge Elementary School addition and renewal in Woodbridge; and the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School renovation in Manassas, among others.

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