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Norway to choose Opera House contractor
NORWAY – On Thursday, the Norway Board of Selectmen will choose a company to stabilize the walls in the Norway Opera House, based on three wildly different bids and a recommendation from project leaders.
The bids range from $156K to nearly $400K.
An analysis of the bids will be performed by Town Manager David Holt and Alfred Hodson of Resurgence Engineering, the engineering company that is overseeing the work.
Last week, town officials opened bids from Bancroft Contracting, Chabot's Construction Company, and Ganneston Construction.
Bancroft Contracting Corporation, of South Paris, is the only local company to submit a bid. The company has done many local jobs, including converting the Newberry's building into the Norway Savings Bank's operations center, and replacing the gym floor at the middle school. The bid submitted by Bancroft was the highest of the three, at $398,900.
President Mark Bancroft said that a couple of different factors influenced the cost of their bid.
“The major factor is that we're very familiar with the condition of the building,” said Bancroft. “We had a plan to support the whole building while stabilizing the rear wall.”
Ganneston Construction, of Augusta, has completed local projects in Bridgton, including Camp Wildwood and Renys Department Store. The bid submitted by Ganneston was in the middle, at $286,600.
Chabot's Construction Company, of Greene has completed high-profile local projects such as the Poland Elementary School, and the Public Safety Building in Oxford. The bid submitted by Ganneston was by far the lowest, at $156,550.
The dramatic difference between the bid amounts points to a lack of standard pricing and to the amount of "gamble" that contractors are willing to take when composing their bids.
"When a contractor prepares a fixed price contract for work to be performed in the future, he is gambling that he can eventually make a profit after he has purchased all of the labor and materials and indirect tasks that will be needed," said Martin Heyman, a large-scale project estimator and engineer. "His bid usually includes some contingency for unforeseen difficulties. His level of profit depends on how much below his estimate he can purchase materials and labor, and on how little of the contingency he spends."
Contractors may not even put the same elements into a particular project phase, which can make it difficult to weigh them against each other.
For example, one phase of the project is for "Contractor General Conditions and Project Mobilization." Chabot's estimate for that work is $11,000, Ganneston's is $46,451, and Bancroft's is $60,700.
The town currently has over $200K budgeted for the project, including $150K in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money, $50K from the "Norway Maine Opera House Corp.," and $15K from a donation by Norway citizens Bea and Bill Damon. Bill Damon also sits on the select board.
In the Opera House, a set of supporting trusses have rotted over time, which has led to some of the more serious structural issues. Organic surfaces which are currently home to large mold colonies will also be removed.
The outside of the building will be altered to discourage trespassers from entering the building. An elevated walkway on the south side of the building will be removed entirely, and openings into the existing building will be sealed off. A portion of an old fire escape on the back building wall will also be removed.
Also, a two-story building addition will be removed.
It is hoped that the work can be completed by the end of the year.