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HCC won’t recoup construction overages from architect

Haywood Community College hoped to recoup $80,000 from the architect behind the new Creative Arts building due to design errors that caused the $10.2 million project to inch up in price.


But the college won’t see a dime of it. Instead, it will fork over an additional $30,000 in architect fees. 

The Creative Arts building was completed in February, but not before the project had racked up about 20 change orders. Some of the changes were the result of design errors or omissions — like a doorway that was too small for equipment to fit through or the unanticipated need for a water pump — that in turn caused HCC to tap into its contingency budget for the project. The college used just more than 70 percent of its $600,000 contingency budget.

But in the end, it’s the college that has to pay. Raleigh-based architect Mike Nicklas argued that he was due about $66,000 in additional services he provided above and beyond the original scope of work. HCC was able to talk the architect down to $27,000 on the condition that the college dropped all its claims. 

The settlement was the best the college could do, said Richard Lanning, vice-chair of HCC’s Board of Trustees. So they dropped $80,000 worth of grievances.

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“We could not get that money,” said Lanning.

A monitor with the state construction office was part of the negotiation process and was sympathetic to the architect, Lanning said.

“In this situation, it was as fair as we could make it,” he said. “I wish we could have done better, obviously.”

On the bright side, Lanning reminded the county that the building’s energy efficient design and solar panels will result in lower utility costs, and even money coming back to HCC from Progress Energy for the electricity it produces.

After some questioning, the Haywood County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to approve the settlement.

“It’s time to put it to rest and move forward,” Commissioner Mike Sorrells.

The commissioners were gun-shy about going to the mat to recoup what they felt they were owed. The county lost a legal dispute with a contractor surrounding cost overruns during historic courthouse renovations a few years ago and didn’t want to get trapped in litigation again. 

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