RACINE — A local contractor who lost a bid to demolish 1516 Washington Ave. has taken issue with cost overruns on the job, but city staff say his concerns are misguided.
Dan Macemon of Macemon & Sons, Inc., raised questions about the cost overruns last week after the company that demolished the building submitted change orders asking the city to pay for the work.
The changes brought the total cost of the project to $52,350 — twice what successful bidder Azarian Wrecking originally bid.
The change orders were slated to be approved by the City Council last week but the Public Works and Services Committee will be taking a closer look at the requests at 5:30 p.m. this evening at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave.
Chief Building Inspector Ken Plaski and Sam Azarian, who owns Azarian Wrecking, say the costs were unforeseen.
Macemon said he finds that hard to believe. He doesn’t think the city should be footing the bill for either of the change orders.
In the case of a $3,750 change order, which was requested to pay for work needed to close up window and doorway openings, Macemon believes the work was spelled out in the original contract. He said the city shouldn’t pay for a $22,394 change order because he believes it was the result of a contractor error. According to the request submitted to the Public Works and Services Committee, the change order was requested to pay for roofing work and masonry repair to the parapet and the front wall of 1512 Washington Ave.
“I don’t think the city should have to pay these false change orders,” Macemon said.
Azarian said on Monday contractor error had nothing to do with change orders.
“I wrote right in my bid that there could be extra costs. Nobody knew what you were going to run into,” he said. “You don’t know what you are going to encounter when the walls come down so how are you going to put a number on that?”
Both Plaski and Macemon point to the bid specifications for the project to support their arguments.
Macemon says language in the specs stating that contractors should “establish ... proper closure of existing passages though” common walls means filling in windows and doorways should have been included in the original bid price. He says language stating that the contractor should “carefully remove the brick veneer from the Washington Avenue facade ...” means that the contractor should have taken care when removing that brick. Failure to do so, he said, would have caused damage to the adjacent building — damage that would have necessitated roof work and masonry repair.
Plaski counters that the same bid specifications stated that interconnections between 1516 Washington Ave. and adjoining buildings 1512 Washington Ave. and 1518 Washington Ave. were “not fully known” and that the “extent of the demolition of the walls” would be “determined during the course of the demolition.”
“I knew there was going to be fixes to (1512 Washington Ave.) because the walls were interconnected,” Plaski said. “Nobody knew how the buildings were connected. That’s why I had an architect help with specifications for the demolition.”
Plaski said he knew that there were going to be additional charges apart from the demolition even before the project was bid out. He added that it would have been impossible for Macemon, or any other contractor, to know what those repairs would have been.
Macemon, however, says Plaski and the Public Works and Services Committee should have known there was something amiss when Azarian’s bid came in at half the amount Macemon & Sons, Inc. and another bidder said they could do the job for.
Questions were asked
Public Works and Services Committee Chairman Sandy Weidner said committee members did ask questions about the difference in bid prices when the bids came in.
Weidner said public works staff told the committee that there was a difference between the bids because there were a lot of unknowns, and that Macemon and the other bidders “didn’t interpret the specs that way.”
She said she wants to make sure that the $22,394 change order work wasn’t the result of contractor error. She also wants to know why the city didn’t bid out the work repairs to the adjacent buildings if it was just hiring someone to tear down 1516 Washington.
“I didn’t have those questions originally,” Weidner said. “Macemon brought up a lot of issues that I think need to be addressed.”
The Bids at a Glance
Azarian Wrecking, Racine: $26,209
Macemon Inc., Racine: $53,233
Meredian Industrial Service Corp., Lake Bluff, Ill.: $55,500
Jaramillo Contractors, Racine: $85,000