Construction manager at risk contract with RJM approved for ice arena

Erin Browne

A contract with RJM Construction as the construction manager at risk for the ice arena project was approved this week by the Watertown City Council.

In August, the council deemed it was in the public’s interest to solicit a construction manager at risk. The contract took several months to be drafted and presented to the council due to the ironing out details – particularly those relating to financial transparency.  

With the increased cost of construction materials and long procurement times for the items, the council wanted a full understanding of the scope of tasks RJM Construction will complete.

Dick Strassburg and his colleague Mike Van Klei from Tegra Group were present via Zoom to address the council’s questions.

“It’s a difficult time within the construction industry in terms of taking on risk with cost escalations the way they are at the market,” said Strassburg.

Buying steel, prefab concrete panels, roofing and insulation early in the construction process has become necessary in these times of shortages and inflation. For example, steel orders were eight weeks out but now take an entire year to receive, Strassburg said.

“Some of the world events that are happening right now may create other challenges,” he said.

Contracting with a construction manager at risk provides an alternative to the hard bid situation that would traditionally occur on large construction projects. Van Klei explained to the council why a bidding situation is not in its best interest.

Mike Van Klei of Tegra Group

“It would create more of an adversarial role between owners, architects and contractors because there is quite a lot of emphasis put on what is shown on the drawings. With the construction manager at risk procurement process, you bring a partner on early, and you bring them on through qualifications, not just price,” he said.

More:Initial plans for new Watertown ice complex unveiled; main sheet will have capacity of 1,523

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