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HCC, contractor negotiate final fees on Creative Arts project

Haywood Community College is negotiating with the architects and contractor who worked on the college’s new Creative Arts building to figure out who owes what.


Construction on the building started in 2011, and throughout the process unexpected costs cropped up — most notably, the need for $227,000 to purchase a pump to push water up a hill to the new building as well as an outdoor shed to house it.

Bill Dechant, HCC’s director of campus development, attributed the unanticipated expense to architect error. The Raleigh-based architects did not realize the water would lose pressure as it moved up hill and therefore did not foresee the need for the pump until the project was underway. When drafting the plans, the architects also made the door to one of the rooms too small for equipment to fit through.

After having to shell out money upfront to remedy such problems, the county board of commissioners has pressed HCC officials to recoup some of the dollars from the builders. And now that the building is complete, that is what the college hopes to do.

“What we are trying to do is come up with a conclusion to the project — a financial conclusion to it,” Dechant said.

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However, the contractors have bills for unpaid services.

“They are coming back to us, and saying, ‘you got this, this, this, this and this that you owe us for,’” Dechant said. “If you (HCC) are going to ask for money back, then we (the builders) are going to ask for this money that we feel we are owed in additional services. That is the way it always goes.”

HCC officials will negotiate with the architect and contractor, said Dechant, and give the commissioners an update on the talks at their next meeting. The goal is to find some common ground.

“Nobody wins if it goes any further than that,” Dechant said.

In a worst-case scenario, the college and the county could end up in a lawsuit with the builders.

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