Costs begin to pile up with nursing home work

Source:, September 30, 2011
By: Bethany Rodgers

Snags in the construction of a new nursing home had the Frederick County Commissioners shaking their heads Thursday as costs and delays continue to pile up.

At their meeting, the county board authorized five work changes that could add up to $430,000 to as much as the cost of building a new space to house two county-run facilities, Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. Three of the changes stemmed from errors or omissions on the part of the project design team, according to county staff reports.

“I think it further solidifies that one, we shouldn’t be in the construction business as a county, and second, we shouldn’t own a nursing home,” Commissioner Billy Shreve said at the meeting.

A difference between blueprints led to one of the problems because construction wasn’t following the pattern laid out in plans approved by inspectors. Commissioners President Blaine Young said he wasn’t pleased with the work change directives and thought the issues show that both the county and private sector can run into tangles during building.

“You can experience the same trials and tribulations either way,” he said. “No one is immune to change orders, whether (it be) the private sector or the government.”

And especially in tight economic times, these types of hitches are to be expected, said Commissioner David Gray, who added that county employees are hard at work to pull off the project.

The five changes approved Thursday were work change directives.

A change order modifies a contract between the county and builder — in this case Donohoe Construction Co. — before the additional work is completed.

On the other hand, a work change directive comes up when the two parties can’t agree on a price, according to David Ennis, who heads the county Department of Program Development and Management. In this case, the county lets the builder complete the work and later determines how much it costs. Work change directives set an upper limit for the added cost, Ennis said.

“It’s very unusual to have this many at once,” he said of Thursday’s cluster of work change directives.

So far, the project has seen 108 change orders and 18 work change directives, with the cost of nine of them still undetermined. That means a project with a contract cost of $28.1 million has grown by about $658,000. Costs could increase by up to $640,000 after additional work is priced out, Ennis said.

The opening date for the facility has also moved further into the future. In the past, some estimated that construction could wrap up by November. Now, builders are talking about March or April, according to Chuck Nipe, head of the county’s Department of Construction Management and Inspection.

Still, work is progressing, Nipe said. At this point, workers are setting doors on their hinges and brushing paint onto the walls.

“We’re moving along pretty nicely,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *